By Jillian Jones, Register Staff Writer 1989, vintner Will Nord bought the bucolic Calness Vineyard just outside the eastern edge of Yountville. Just a stone’s throw from rows of Yountville townhomes, Nord’s land is a vast expanse of green. Located in the Agricultural Preserve, where grapes are placed above development, Nord is allowed only one home on his 83-acre property.

That is, until two years ago, when Nord turned his one parcel into six.

Under state law, property owners like Nord are able to divide their land into parcels that otherwise would not be allowed today if they can show those sub-standard parcels existed once in the past. In other words, two-, 10- and 20-acre parcels are popping up in areas of the county where the minimum parcel size is 40 or 160 acres.

In Nord’s case, a map from 1926 shows that Calness Vineyard once existed as six parcels and therefore must be recognized as six today. Nord has acknowledged that his sweeping vineyard will probably one day be home to six houses instead of one, all with different owners.

In an area of the world where agriculture and rural development are often at odds, this law, found in the Subdivision Map Act, has its critics. County officials over the years have tried to find ways around this provision in the law, but to date they’ve had little success.

That’s where another land use tool comes in. ...

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