The City Council formally accepted Tuesday a deal with , hosting wine-tasting and special events as early as July.
“All in all, this is a really great use of a historic site that we have in San Juan Capistrano,” said Councilwoman Laura Freese. “I hope that it becomes such a success that it becomes a model for other historical sites” in the city.
Before a special daytime meeting to discuss the city’s budget, the council reviewed the 10-year proposal with Hamilton Oaks Vineyard and Winery of Trabuco Canyon.
Under the agreement, Hamilton Oaks will pay $4,000 monthly for the first two years, $4,500 the next two years, then $5,000 a month during the fifth year. At the fifth-year mark, the winery could back out of the arrangement with six-month notice.
The rent continues to escalate for the next five years, topping out at $6,000 a month in the eighth, ninth and 10th years.
In addition, the city will get 3 percent of the any gross revenues in excess of $1.2 million generated at the property.
“It’s much better than renting it out. The public will be able to come out and enjoy the house,” said Councilman Sam Allevato. Up until the end of 2011, .
The council directed staff to look into hooking the property up to a nearby sewer line and also gave Hamilton Oaks owner Ron Tamez a green light to pursue signage for the water tower.
Tamez said he’s setting an aggressive goal for himself to open the facility, which will include demonstration vines of Mission grapes – the variety first used to make wine at – but “it’s our 10-year anniversary of being in business.”
Mark Bodenhamer, chief executive officer of the , said he can foresee the city advertising itself as the birthplace of the California wine industry.
“It gives us a competitive edge,” Bodenhamer said. “This sounds like a perfect use for this property."
Councilman Derek Reeve agreed.
“This is going to be destination site,” he said. “I expect Hamilton Oaks not to be here for five years, not to be here for 10 years, but for the indefinite future.”