Case Study: Scenic Easement at the Henry Ranch, CA

Scenic Easements for the Sattui-Henry Ranch II, Napa County, California

About the Property

The Henry Ranch is located southwest of the City of Napa in a 4,000-acre valley that has historically been held by two ranches, the Henry Ranch and the Alexander Ranch. Both cattle grazing ranches have remained largely unaltered until the last decade. The current landowner acquired the 530-acre Henry Ranch in 1993, constructed a reservoir, and planted 125 acres with grapes. Other than vineyards, the property is undeveloped. In 2002, the owner donated a conservation easement on 117 acres of the property along with several historic ranch buildings and barns to the Land Trust of Napa County

The Land Trust

The mission of the Land Trust of Napa County is “to protect the natural diversity, scenic open space and agricultural vitality of Napa County by preserving lands with significant conservation values for present and future generations and by fostering an appreciation and understanding of the natural environment.” The Land Trust is a nonprofit organization with over 1,350 members. The Trust receives no operating support from any government agency and is the only organization, either public or private, actively working to preserve open space and agricultural land in Napa County.


Sattui Winery (Wikimedia Commons)

The Easement

This easement is an excellent example of an agricultural land easement with scenic protection provisions. The owner of the Henry Ranch has reserved the right to construct a future winery, prohibited any future estate residential use, and protected a significant stand of oak riparian woodland as well as the scenic ridgelines on the property.

One of the conservation concerns both in Napa County and other parts of the country is the potential for excessive conversion of farmland and open space to wineries. To address the issue, the California wine industry has developed a series of best management practices to make viticulture a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly industry. In the case of this property, the easement limits grape growing to 150 acres of the 418 acres, and limits the size of the winery that the landowner intends to build on the site by setting a ceiling for production of 100,000 cases per year, fairly small for Napa County. A key environmental and scenic provision prohibits the location of the winery within 200 feet of either Carneros Creek or an unnamed tributary of the creek.