A glut of events
EDITOR: Saturday’s article about wine industry impacts on rural areas (“Studies fault wine industry”) noted that “county leaders have long put off key decisions and passed work on to citizen groups,” even after the 2016 Board of Supervisors’ vote to create a winery event ordinance to address over-concentration. Despite promising to curb the problem, they passed the buck to citizen groups heavily composed of wine industry representatives.
Some in the industry still advocate increasing events and visitation, claiming it’s good for business, while others admit that cannibalizing each other’s wine clubs and holding expensive events is misguided.
It’s no secret that tasting room visitation is down. Winery overdevelopment is impacting most winery’s bottom lines. The downturn in business cannot be blamed on wildfires alone. The arms race in Sonoma County’s overcrowded field has led to wineries requesting larger events and daily food service — which also erodes local restaurant profits.
The 2020 general plan noted the county’s carrying capacity at 220 wineries, yet the county permitted over 450 with more permits being approved. No wonder the wine industry is clamoring for unenforceable regulations and more events. What other industry fights for more competition on agricultural lands and then complains they need the rights of commercial zoning to stay in business?
Co-chair, Preserve Rural Sonoma County