MORAGA -- To some passers-by, the grassy hill overlooking the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and Moraga Road is just another part of the Lamorinda landscape.
But for Moraga resident Roger Poynts, who owns the hillside plus an adjacent 85 or so acres, the land is brimming with potential.
A few years ago, this civil engineer envisioned a cluster of single-family homes dotting the rolling hills. Today, that vision has grown to include a winery and hospitality center, underground wine caves, an 11-acre public park and an outdoor amphitheater.
Dubbed "Painted Rock Winery & Performing Arts Center," the development, says Poynts, is something that could be enjoyed by the community while generating revenue -- nearly $800,000 annually, per a rough estimate -- for Moraga. "It is something I could do to benefit the town," he says.
According to extensive plans on his website, Poynts' proposal includes hiking trails, a 20-acre vineyard and a hospitality center to be used for classes, meetings and lodging guests such as scholars visiting nearby Saint Mary's College. A black box theater -- named for its dark walls and minimalist design -- is also planned.
And in a nod toward maintaining the area's character, only a small portion of the total project site would be developed; more than 90 percent would remain open space.
But it's the winery and winemaking facilities suggested by Moraga resident and winemaker Joao Magalhaes -- formerly involved with the project -- that are especially appealing to local vintners.
Dave Parker, who runs Parkmon Vineyards, says available fruit among the increasing number of Moraga grape growers currently exceeds the capacity of commercial wineries in the area.
"There would be a lot of benefit to any existing commercial winemaker and any potential commercial winery to have more capacity and have a state-of-the-art winemaking facility that could be used for making the best wine we can," he said.
Susan Captain, another Moraga grower, sees benefit for local winegrowers, and beyond. "It will make Moraga a destination rather than a cul-de-sac town ... and put it on the map," she said.
However, the project will need to clear significant hurdles before the wine starts flowing. One of them is gaining approval to build on land partially protected under the town's open space ordinance, which typically applies to areas that are geologically unstable or unsafe, said planning director Shawna Brekke-Read. The area does have landslides, and planning officials would also need to look at the allowable density of development.
But the first step is approval from the town for development of the 17 lots on which the residences and other
"It's the same application, all the same criteria. There's just a different plan now that meets more of the town's needs," Poynts said.