Express Support for Winery Events/Business Activities Positions

Contact Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commissioners

In response to the February 17 Sonoma County Planning Commission’s meeting on winery events/business activities, Sonoma County Vintners is encouraging all Sonoma County wineries and affiliated business sectors to contact each member of our Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commissioners to express support for the following positions related to the winery events/business activities issue. In addition, to make this convenient for you and your team, we have created an email template you are welcome to use.

Positions Related to Winery Events/Business Activities

1. We support the current Sonoma County General Plan, which states:

  • Policy AR-4a: The primary use of any parcel within the three agricultural land use categories shall be agricultural production and related processing, support services, and visitor serving uses.
  • Residential uses in these areas shall recognize that the primary use of the land may create traffic and agricultural nuisance situations, such as flies, noise, odors, and spraying of chemicals.
  • Policy AR-4d: Apply the provisions of the Right to Farm Ordinance to all lands designated within agricultural land use categories.
  • Policy AR-8b: Encourage programs for promotion and marketing of agricultural products grown in the County

2. Planning and permitting should focus on compliance with planning documents and the mitigation of impacts.

  • Wineries are subject to the general plan and the zoning code, which clearly identify the facility capacity to address hours of operation, traffic, parking, sanitation, and noise. These parameters ALREADY guide wineries as it relates to events/business activities.

3. The operation of a winery in any agricultural Land Use Designation requires a Use Permit.

  • Permit conditions are required to address the impacts of that operation. The conditions are not to direct how the applicant operates the business. For example, a church needs to provide parking, ADA compliant access and restrooms, however, limitations are not made on the number of weddings they may perform or the number of services offered.

4. Sonoma County Code Enforcement reports extremely minimal complaints related to winery events/business activities and those few have been easily resolved with communication.

Additional Talking Points

Like many Sonoma County businesses, our wine community has faced the challenges of wildfires, smoke exposure, floods, power shutoffs, diminished tourism and many catastrophic pandemic impacts. With ingenuity, creativity, flexibility and amazing effort, our wine community has survived; however, we cannot survive more regulation that is neither warranted nor necessary.

Our Sonoma County Wine community is a major employer and contributor to the Sonoma County economy.

  • Our wine community plays a crucial role by being engaged with and supporting significant philanthropic activity, including hundreds of non-profit charitable organizations throughout Sonoma County.
  • Over the past five years, national representation for our wineries has greatly diminished because of wine wholesale and distribution consolidation, making it even more difficult for local wineries to gain wholesale distribution across the country. Wineries are required to market and fulfill wine sales directly to consumers in order to survive.

Planning Commission Members

Greg Carr – 1st District

Caitlin Cornwall – 1st District

Larry Reed – 2nd District

Pat Gilardi – 2nd District

Gina Belforte – 3rd District

Jacquelynne Ocaña – 3rd District

Kevin Deas – 4th District

Shaun McCaffery – 4th District

Eric Koenigshofer – 5th District

Belén Grady – 5th District

Board of Supervisors

Susan Gorin – District 1

David Rabbitt – District 2

Chris Coursey – District 3

James Gore – District 4

Lynda Hopkins – District 5

Once again, we recommend you and your winery principles send your email in support of the positions as outlined in this email to all Supervisors and Commissioners list above.

Sonoma County Vintners will continue to monitor and update you on this issue, and additional government, policy and permit related matters, as they develop.



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