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After Supes delay support, sign locale is up in air

Four to five million people visit Napa Valley every year and its two iconic Welcome signs are popular photo spots. | Photo by Kim Beltran

Napa Valley Vine Trail officials this week said they have scrapped a plan to move an iconic landmark from Oakville to Yountville.

For more than a year, a coalition of Vine Trail and Napa Valley Vintners personnel had been working to relocating the Welcome Napa Valley sign in Oakville to a spot off Highway 29 near Yountville.

“Upon further conversations with landowners and traffic assessment, the group decided to identify a new location,” Shawn Casey-White, executive director of Napa Valley Vine Trail, wrote in an email to the Sun. “We are continuing to work with the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Wine Train and landowners to find the safest and best view and photo for the Welcome sign.”

The turnaround comes after Napa County Supervisors in early January delayed a request to sign off on a letter of support for the project. Napa Valley Vintners, which owns the sign and represents over 500 wineries in the Napa County, and Visit Napa Valley, representing more than 90 percent of the hotels in the valley, had endorsed the move in early 2023. In January of last year, the Yountville Town Council backed the proposed move as well in a letter to Caltrans’ District 4 office.

Supervisors at their meeting last month said they wanted more information, including comment from property owners who could be impacted.

Vine Trail organizers then scheduled a series of town-hall type meetings in the communities from Yountville to St. Helena to share Vine Trail construction updates as well as sign-moving plans with residents and property owners.

Before announcing their change of plans, Vine Trail officials had proposed moving the Oakville Welcome sign to a property near the Cal Trans equipment staging area along Highway 29 at its north intersection with Washington Street in Yountville.

A staff report prepared for the supervisors’ Jan. 9 meeting called the site “the best location” for the sign.

Some said Cal Trans wasn’t keen on its staging area being impacted by the move, and others speculate that nearby property owners weren’t in favor of the plan either.

The sign move is necessary because a new section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail between Yountville and St. Helena is set to be built within the next year and its path runs through the property where the sign sits.

The non-profit Vine Trail Coalition is building a 47-mile trail from the Vallejo Ferry terminal to Calistoga. A 12.5-mile section of the trail is complete from Kennedy Park in Napa to Madison Street in Yountville, with a nine-mile section from St. Helena to Calistoga and a five-mile section Vallejo to American Canyon currently under construction.

The Yountville to St. Helena section would extend north from the intersection of the Vine Trail and California Drive along the west side of Highway 29.