Proposed winery rules likely to stay corked

Dec 20, 2016
Wine Rules
Proposed winery rules likely to stay corked

After five years and endless wrangling about regulation of wineries on Santa Barbara County agricultural land, the wine industry is likely to prevail next year against proposed rules that members have said would cripple its main source of revenue: direct-to-consumer sales.

Incoming County Supervisor Das Williams, who will join the board in January, told the Business Times he cannot support the proposed Winery Ordinance Update that supervisors turned aside but did not vote down at a meeting in Santa Maria on Nov. 22.

That aligns him on the five-member board with Chairman Peter Adam and Supervisor Steve Lavagnino. Both spoke against the measure last month after 55 people from wine, tourism and related industries opposed it in comments before the board.

 

During many public meetings, planning staff heard complaints from residents living near winery tasting rooms about traffic dangers on narrow country roads and noise from wine events, particularly in Ballard Canyon. Vintners say their concerns wound up being ignored.

Wine industry members said the resulting document, which specifies three tiers of wineries based on property size and planted acreage, puts too many restrictions on tasting room visits and attendance at wine events and would cripple direct-to-consumer sales that are their main source of income.

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