The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today, have unanimously voted in favor of the Tiered Winery Ordinance. This would allow the smallest of wineries in the “Boutique” category to have retail tasting rooms by right. Prior to today, any sized winery operation that wants a retail tasting room must have a Major Use Permit. The last one issued was $250,000.
There are strict rules for these small wineries in terms of hours of operation, events, percentage of estate grown grapes that must go into the wine, etc. but they are all conditions we can live with in order to sustain a viable wine business on Agriculturally zoned land, without bankrupting ourselves in the process. All buildings will still have to meet code and be approved, but the USE will be by right.
There are 17 bonded wineries in the Ramona Valley AVA, and so far only 1 tasting room. This bold and forward thinking action by the Supervisors will promote economic development surrounding the wine industry throughout the County, and especially the Ramona Valley. It is hoped that before the year is out, more tasting rooms will be opened, more jobs created, more vibrant retail and tourist serving business on Main Street will blossom, and our sales tax dollars will stay in San Diego County rather than going to the Temecula Valley in Riverside County.
In case anyone is wondering, we are years away from a retail tasting room. We don’t even have a building here in which to make wine. When we do, which is likely a couple of years away, it will then take 2 or 3 years to get wine from a point of harvest, crush, fermentation and aging, into a bottle and then to sell.
In the meantime we are having fun being a part of the industry and trying to grow the very best grapes we can to sell to the local wine makers.