NewsLocal News


UPDATE: Winery, Grant family to work together on Hwy 101 intersection safety but boycott continues

Posted at 6:10 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 21:10:39-04

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.) – Jordan Grant’s family says it has been in contact with Vintage Wine Estates and is calling off plans for a picket outside Laetitia Vineyard and Winery later this week. But James Grant says he is continuing to call for a boycott of the company.

That call came after Vintage Wine Estates filed a legal challenge putting a stop to Caltrans’ plan to eliminate left turns at Highway 101 and El Campo Rd. and three other intersections, including Laetitia Vineyard Dr.

Grant’s son, Jordan, was killed in a crash at the El Campo Rd. intersection approximately six months ago.

Grant says winery management called the family Saturday evening, expressed support for closing the El Campo Rd. intersection and apologized for the effect of the legal challenge.

He says the winery feels Caltrans didn’t listen to its concerns and wants its intersection excluded from the project. They’ve agreed to work together and are planning to meet with Caltrans this week in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Grant says he made it clear to the winery that he has a strong sense of urgency and expects them to act with that same sense of urgency.

“While we dally, the next Jordan could be killed this week at El Campo when those improvements could have been constructed and installed,” he said.

(1:41 p.m.) – Vintage Wine Estates is responding to calls for a boycott of its businesses.

Last week, the company, which owns Laetitia Vineyard and Winery, filed a legal challenge to stop a Caltrans project that would eliminate left turns at the El Campo Rd. intersection with Highway 101, as well as at the intersections with Laetitia Vineyard Dr. and Hemi and Telephone roads.

The project was approved six months after the death of Cal Poly student Jordan Grant, who was killed when his motorcycle collided with a vehicle that authorities say pulled out in front of him as that vehicle made a left-hand turn onto Highway 101 from El Campo Rd.

The court filing claims that Caltrans did not prepare an environmental impact report for the project and failed to provide notice of the project for public review.

Grant’s parents lobbied heavily for changes at the intersection. When they found out about the legal action, they called for a boycott of Laetitia Vineyard and Winery and other Vintage Wine Estates businesses.

On Monday, Vintage Wine Estates released the following letter:

To the San Luis Obispo County Community,

We have heard your voices and want to open up a conversation about the closure of the four crossings, inclusive of the El Campo Road turn-off. Yes, it’s true that our company, Vintage Wine Estates, filed a suit against CalTrans to stop the closure.

But our intent was not to take the safety of the community lightly nor to take lightly the tragic death of Jordan Grant. Our intent was to create positive action for CalTrans to evaluate all of the impacts of the closures that are likely to occur, mitigate those impacts, and importantly, consider and adopt a permanent solution to El Campo Road access, not only for Laetitia Winery but for the many homes and ranches along El Campo Road.

We support an overpass, currently on a 20-year project completion timeline, to be fast-tracked by Cal Trans on an accelerated five-year completion date. This is a solution that will benefit everybody who uses El Campo Road for safe, everyday access to homes and businesses, and most importantly, in case of emergencies such as wildfires. We believe these alternatives should have been adopted as part of the decision to close the four crossings.

The lawsuit was intended to focus Sacramento on the urgent issue and not settle for a stop gap or years-down-the-road solution. We are continuing to work hard towards this goal. We fell short of our responsibility to explore and communicate this to the community and for that we apologize.

The safety of El Campo Road and the other three crossings is a priority for our company, as employees, guests and neighbors use it every day. We have employees who are past students of Cal Poly and many of us are parents or family members of students, so this issue hits very close to home.

We are committed to being part of the traffic and safety solution for El Campo Road.

Terry Wheatley
President, Vintage Wine Estates