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Jackson Family Wines planning boutique hotel at Freemark Abbey

Barbara Banke, chairman of Jackson Family Wines, has applied for a permit to build a boutique hotel at Freemark Abbey winery in St. Helena in the Napa Valley.

Jackson Family Wines is planning on opening a boutique hotel at its Freemark Abbey winery in St. Helena

Due to be called ‘Inn at the Abbey’, if the application is successful, the hotel will boast 79 rooms across five buildings off of Highway 29 and Lodi Lane in St. Helena.

An environmental impact review of the proposed development is being prepared and the project is not expected to come before the Napa County Planning Commission before spring 2021.

Under the proposed plans, the 1899 stone building that houses Freemark Abbey will remain in place and there will be no physical change to the building’s structure.

Jackson Family Wines is seeking to convert a space currently occupied by a laboratory and barrel storage rooms into conference space for the hotel. There are also plans for a restaurant within the boutique hotel.

According to the proposal, the largest new build at the winery would be a 75,000 square feet structure housing 50 guest rooms, a parking garage and roof terrace.

The other new buildings at the 14 acre property would accommodate between three to 11 guest rooms.

Dating back to 1886, Josephine Tychson, thought to be the first female winemaker in California, built the original redwood cellar on which the estate sits.

Californian businessmen Charles Freeman, Marquand Foster and Albert ‘Abbey’ Ahern bought the winery in 1939 and renamed it Freemark Abbey.

The Jackson family acquired the estate in 2006. Longtime winemaker Ted Edwards became emeritus at the end of last year after four decades at the winery.

In addition to her plans for Freemark Abbey, Banke is also in the process of applying for a permit to open an eco-friendly hotel in Sonoma with a farm-to-fork restaurant.

“There’s a need for more lodging in Sonoma and I’m interested in the idea of eco-tourism. There are lots of activities for tourists along the Russian River, from kayaking and hiking to horse riding,” Banke told db in a recent interview, revealing that she’d also like to open a hotel in Oregon.

“We have a truffle farm in Sonoma, so this feels like a natural extension for us, but it’s a long-term project – pursuing the permits is a lengthy process,” she added.

An in-depth interview with Barbara Banke will appear in the March issue of the drinks business, which will be distributed at ProWein in Dusseldorf.

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