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Vineyard & Orchard Site Development (VESCO) and Agricultural Grading & Drainage
This department administers the Sonoma County Vineyard and Orchard Site Development Ordinance, also known as VESCO, as well as Agricultural Grading and Drainage. Growers planting new vineyards, orchards or replanting existing vineyards or orchards are required to meet standards within the Sonoma County Code and comply with requirements including best management practices (BMPs) as established in the Agricultural Commissioner's BMP guidelines.
We recommend that you sign up to receive updates on: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/natural-resources/agricultural-weights-and-measures/ag-newssonomacounty.ca.gov/Agriculture-Weights-and-Measures/Latest-News/
Low Impact Vineyard Replant Registration Application
Low Impact Vineyard Replanting is an alternate pathway within VESCO allowing for the replanting of vineyards using low impact methods with the following parameters:
- No deep ripping may take place
- Vines may be pulled by hand or mechanical means with minimal soil disturbance
- End posts and trellising must remain in place
- Vineyard roads and avenues must not be altered
- Drainage infrastructure must not be altered
In order to qualify for this registration, vineyard blocks in question must have been permitted through VESCO. Permit history for vineyard project block(s) on the registration application must be list to be deemed complete. Incomplete applications will not be processed. A permit history for a parcel can be searched at https://parcelsearch.permitsonoma.org/PermitSearch.
A map that clearly marks the specific vineyard block(s) to be replanted must be included. An online mapping tool can be found at www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/AWM-map.
Fees for application review, processing, and inspection(s) will be assessed at a rate of $292.00 per hour and billed by the ¼ hour. A $50.00 fee will also be included for the filing of a CEQA Notice of Exemption with the County Clerk.
The application may be submitted electronically via email to email@example.com, submitted to our front desk, or placed in the drop box located outside our office. Please contact our office at (707) 565-2371 with any questions.
Thank you for your patience as we work through the development of this new process.
Low Impact Replant Registration Application (PDF: 866 kB)
VESCO Permit Extension Application
The VESCO Permit Extension Application process may grant an additional five years to an existing active VESCO permit.
- Extension application must be received by Department prior to expiration of current VESCO permit.
- Any change in ownership, engineer, or project manager must be updated on extension application.
- 5 year extension period will begin at extension approval date.
- Extension does not grant any changes to existing VESCO project parameters.
VESCO Permit Extension Application (PDF: 323 kB)
Fees for application review, processing, and inspection(s) will be assessed at the current Land Stewardship Division hourly rate and billed by the ¼ hour. For current hourly rate, please visit http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/AWM/fees.
Extension applications may be submitted electronically via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, submitted to our front desk, or placed in the drop box located outside our office.
VESCO Permit Application Information
Permit must be approved before any work begins. Incomplete application will not be accepted. Applications submitted after September 15th may not be issued in same calendar year. An intake appointment is no longer required but can be scheduled if needed. Please call (707) 565-2371 to schedule an intake appointment.
A completed biological assessment or study of project area is required for all new vineyard and orchard plantings and vineyard and orchard replantings that are located within the designated critical habitats for California tiger salamander (Ambystoma Californiense) or California red-legged frog (Rana Draytonii).
These habitat boundaries can be viewed on the online mapper located at ecos.fws.gov/ecp/report/table/critical-habitat.html.
Documents and Information
- VESCO Application (PDF: 2.58 MB)
- Grading, Drainage, Vineyard/Orchard Site Development Fees
- Flowchart for New Development Projects (PDF: 2.81 MB)
- Tree Removal Worksheet (PDF: 112 kB)
- FAQs for Vineyard/Orchard Development (PDF: 236 kB)
- Sheet flow Reference (PDF: 1.23 MB)
- Biological Resource Assessment or Study Guidelines (PDF: 264 kB)
- Chapter 36 revised 9/02/2021 (New document ) (PDF: 433 kB)
- VESCO BMP and Technical Report Guidelines Revised 9/02/2021 (PDF: 5.13 MB)
Vineyard/Orchard Site Development Permit Database
This database contains information on vineyard and orchard projects submitted to our office for site development. You can view information on project status, history of inspections, and related information, however you cannot apply for permits online. This information is available for current and past projects that have been submitted to our office.
Detailed instructions on how to query this data (PDF: 540 kB)
- VESCO-Cannabis Site Suitability Mapping Tool
- US Army Corps of Engineers - San Francisco District
- Natural Resource Conservation Service
- Sonoma Resource Conservation District
- Goldridge Resource Conservation District
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
- North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department
- Sonoma County Winegrape Commission
- UC Davis SoilWeb Interactive Map
Best Management Practices and Technical Report Guidelines for New Vineyard and Orchard Development, Vineyard and Orchard Replanting, and Agricultural Grading and Drainage (VESCO)
Download a PDF of the Best Management Practices (BMP) manual used in the VESCO program as a regulatory guide. This updated manual includes guidelines for various reports, including geologic, geotech, soils, drainage, biological, wetlands, and focused species reports as well as standard plan notes and a glossary. This document underwent public review and has been adopted by the Agricultural Commissioner.
VESCO BMP and Technical Report Guidelines (PDF: 3.89 MB)