How did a place like Napa Valley, with thousands of acres of prime real estate and extraordinary setting, not fall prey to the mad housing, highway, and high-rise construction that characterizes most other former agricultural havens such as Santa Clara? It was a near miss, as county residents fought fiercely in the late 1960s to save the Valley’s rural farming nature.


A close-up of a sign

Napa County's AG Preserve is a pioneering land-zoning ordinance that has prevented over-development in Napa Valley by establishing agriculture and open space as the “best use for the land".

The primary intent of the program is to preserve agricultural land by discouraging premature and unnecessary conversion to urban uses. Property owners in the Agricultural Watershed or the defined AG Preserve — mostly, though not exclusively, the unincorporated areas of the Valley floor — voluntarily restrict their land use to farming or open space in return for Napa County tax assessment benefits.

Trails in the AG Preserve? Only certain farming-related activities are allowed in the AG Preserve. Recreational trails, for instance, are not an approved use. That’s why the route of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, a 47-mile continuous multi-use trail that will, when complete, in a few years, stretch from Vallejo’s Ferry all the way to Calistoga, has been designed to stay in existing transportation corridors which are already approved exceptions in the AG Preserve.

Trails & roads in farmland. One of the great joys of traveling in Napa Valley is how the roads and trails and drives take you so tantalizingly close to vineyards and orchards. Historically, there are a few fences. But those unobstructed country views may not endure: With more people visiting Napa Valley, many growers fear their crops and ag activities are at risk. Roses may be ravaged, plums plucked, grape bunches misguidedly looted as souvenirs.

Help AG RESPECT keep Napa Valley beautiful and productive!

For more information about the AG Preserve, click here.