Warren and Barbara Winiarski's commitment to protecting the land of California’s famed Napa Valley has been sustained by them since 1968. Their contributions to land conservation and sustainability has endeavored to ensure that the Napa Valley will be a National Treasure to endure for generations to come.
Agricultural Preservation Act of 1968
In 1968, a few Napa Valley vintners and others in the community had the forethought to preserve grape growing agricultural land and prevent future over-development by enacting the nation’s first Agriculture Preserve. This land-use ordinance established agricultural land as the Highest and Best Use for the land in the fertile valley and foothill areas of Napa County. Initially, the ordinance protected 23,000 acres of agricultural land; today, more than 38,000 acres are contained within the Preserve and no land has ever been removed.
Winiarski was one of the first supporters of the Napa Agriculture Preserve and is one of the last surviving original key advocates, celebrating the measure’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
Winiarski was a lead supporter for Measure J, which removed from the Napa County Board of Supervisors the authority to approve the development of agricultural lands and made such changes subject to a popular vote. Thanks to Measure J’s passage, all county agricultural land designations remain in place unless changed by countywide public vote.
Granted Vineyard Conservation Easement
Winiarski was the first to place his vineyard land under conservation easement, ensuring the land would remain in agricultural use. Since 1990, the Winiarskis have donated nearly 200 acres to the Land Trust of Napa County, including the Paris Tasting vineyard and his current property, Arcadia Vineyards, in the Coombsville AVA.
In 2017, Winiarski and his wife Barbara were honored by Land Trust Napa County with the Acre by Acre award for their philanthropic work, helping to preserve the character of Napa by permanently protecting the land.
A new park and open space district, named Napa Open Space District, was implemented with Winiarski’s advocacy and financial support to improve access to some 120,000 acres of public lands, from the Newell Preserve near American Canyon to remote regions north of Lake Berryessa.
Since its formation, the Napa Open Space District has protected nearly 5,000 acres of pristine watershed lands, opened Moore Creek Park, saved two State Parks from closing and put these parks onto sustainable financial footing, constructed the only public outdoor education camp in Napa County for students and other groups, and built, repaired, and opened more than 35 miles of trails.
In 2008, Measure P passed, extending and enhancing 1990’s Measure J. Thanks in part to Winiarski’s advocacy and financial support, widespread and vital protections were granted to Napa County’s agricultural land through 2058.
If passed, Measure Z would have raised an estimated $8 million annually for 14 years to be overseen by the Napa County Regional Park and Napa Open Space District to support parks and open space restoration and preservation. Measure Z required ⅔ votes to pass, but narrowly lost, with 64.7% of votes supporting its proposed funding for parks and open space restoration and preservation. The closeness of this vote is encouraging ongoing efforts to gain community support towards the same goals.
Warren Winiarski donated generously towards Measure Z’s passage and was one of its most active advocates.
Napa Open Space Challenge
February 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the Napa Open Space District. To honor the occasion, Winiarski donated a $25,000 challenge grant to the district to expand outdoor education, volunteer involvement, and public outreach and to broaden community support for open space preservation. Winiarski’s goal is to pass future Measure Z-type legislation.
In May 2017, Napa Valley Vintners Association, a more than 500 member association, matched Winiarski’s $25,000 gift.
This ordinance titled “Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative of 2018,” would have limited oak woodlands removal and strengthen the streams and river buffers in Napa Valley. Among the most vocal supporters of this measure was Winiarski, who contributed his time and finances to this cause. Measure C was voted down by a slim margin of just 641 votes out of 35,707 cast. Here again, efforts continue to achieve Measure C's needful goals and visions.