Vineyards to pop up in vacant city lots
Vineyards grow with Mount Diablo in the background in Oakley. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)
OAKLEY — Vineyards will begin growing from vacant city lots after the city council approved leasing two city-owned lots to local farmer Alan Lucchesi to plant vines on.
The two lots are currently not in use and the city hopes that the vineyards would provide an attractive landscape and add to the city’s heritage as a prominent grape-growing location in East County.
The first, one-acre lot is located northwest of the intersection of Neroly Road and Live Oak Avenue and sits adjacent to recently owned parcel purchased by Lucchesi. The lot was set aside by the county as a possible future site for a fire station, but the city said that the station would not be financially feasible within the next five years. Until then, the city felt that leasing the property to Lucchesi would save on maintenance costs as well as bring in a little revenue from the license fee.
The cost to maintain the lot was estimated to be $300 a year and the city will earn $2,400 in fees over the five-year lease. According to staff, the vines would not mature until the third year, which is when the fees will be charged, and that the estimated yield for Lucchesi would be $5,000 per year.
Another lot that the city leased to Lucchesi was a 17-acre triangle lot, dubbed the Cunha Donation Parcels, that sits just west of the Ironhouse Sanitary District building on Main Street.
According to the staff report, only three acres of the lot along the border with the sanitary district building are able to be planted. Due to the maintenance needs of the, the city is charging Lucchesi $100 ayear for two years of the five-year lease.
Lucchesi has been tending vineyards in Oakley for over two decades as part of the Lucchesi Family Farms, which was passed down from his grandfather Dionisio Lucchesi. Lucchesi looks after over 400 acres of private and publicly owned vineyards, ultimately sending some off to his brother Mark, who crafts wines at the Lucca Winery in Ripon.