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Proposed San Jose Hills Vineyard Could Serve As Fire Break

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A plan to build a massive vineyard on some barren hillsides in the middle of San Jose is getting some attention at City Hall.

The San Jose City Council is deciding whether to spend up to $400,000 to study the plan for a working vineyard on the barren side slopes of Communications Hill.

For the last decade, thousands of homes have been built on top of the hill.

"What you have right now all you see is a brown, desolate hill with weeds. We can do a lot better," said Jerry Strangis, one of the original visionaries for building a community on the hill.

Strangis said a vineyard would be the finishing touch that would turn the hillsides into lush, green vineyards producing grapes to make wine.

He says a recent 4th of July fire on the hill made him even more determined.

"Having a working vineyard up here would act as a fire break," he said.

San Jose is studying the plans but the city wants to use up to $400,000 out of a community assessment reserve fund to test soils and develop plans further.

A professional vintner would be hired to plant and maintain the vines and harvest the grapes. But some homeowners who pay into the fund through a special tax are saying "hands off."

"Not a problem if some private company wants to pay for it, I'm all for it," said Manuel Martinez, a homeowner who's paid into the fund for the last two years. "But when you have a public investment to subsidize private profit, I have a problem with that."

Other residents say creating a bucolic vine covered hill would also enhance property values.

"You'd look outside and instead of seeing weeds and debris, you'd see a luscious green landscape," said Nick Patel, a member of the Tuscany Hills Homeowners Association.

Patel wants the plans to move forward with minimal costs to residents and hopes to someday sit back with his
neighbors and enjoy an inviting glass filled with a new San Jose vintage.

"We'd be able to enjoy a bottle of San Rosé," he said.

The city council heard public comment on the proposal on Tuesday but postponed taking a vote.

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