Dear San Diego County Friends – please see suggested wording of a letter, and a list of your representatives below it. Please take the time to try to save our small wineries.


A great injustice to small family wineries and vineyards has come to our attention, putting them all in serious jeopardy. A small-time vintner’s use of volunteer workers has put him out of business after the State of California hit him with $115,000 in fines. This is a small winery with only $11,000 in net income, open 10 hours a week. Not only is the premise for the fine grossly unfair, the fine amount is completely disproportionate to the supposed misdeed. The volunteers, some of them learning to make wine while helping out, were labeled by the State Dept. of Industrial Relations as illegally unpaid laborers, and the winery should have been paying them and paying worker taxes. It must be noted that none of the small wineries and vineyards in the State could survive financially or physically without the use volunteers; it’s a common practice.

To add insult to injury, while State law prohibits for-profit businesses from using volunteers, it is perfectly permissible and encouraged for any and all government agencies including schools.

We don’t believe anyone disagrees with a requirement to have Worker’s Compensation in place for any workers, paid or unpaid. But the smallest of farms and wineries will not exist without the enthusiastic volunteer help from students taking oenology classes at local colleges, friends who enjoy fresh air and wine, and neighbor vintners and viticulturists who help each other plant, prune, harvest, crush, and press each other’s grapes and bottle and label each other’s wines.

The DIR’s assertion that “It isn’t fair to wineries that are paying their employees to have to compete against for-profit wineries that do not.” This is comparing apples and oranges. It is every start-up small winery’s goal to be able to create jobs and hire staff to help take care of operations. All of the small Boutique wineries in San Diego County are tiny operations, with owner’s keeping their day jobs to support their vineyard and winery habit. We are NOT Napa Valley millionaires and will never be significant contributors to the local economy if we have to do it all by ourselves or hire staff when we don’t even have enough cash flow to pay for bottles and labels.

Ever heard of a Barn Raising? Friends and neighbors coming together to help get a farm enterprise on its feet? Our Country was based on this – not on ludicrous rules like the DIR is enforcing. Please, change this law!



Governor Brown: Sacramento Office State Capitol Building, Suite 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814-4905
Phone: (916) 445-2841 (916) 445-2841 FREE;
Fax: (916) 445-4633
District Office 1350 Front Street, Suite 6054 San Diego, CA 92101-3607
Phone: (619) 525-4641
Fax: (619) 525-4640

State Senate

District 36 – Joel Anderson (R) 2014
500 Fesler Street, Ste. 201, El Cajon, CA 92020, (619) 596-3136, fax (619) 596-3140

District 38 – Mark Wyland (R) 2014
1910 Palomar Point Way, #105, Carlsbad, CA 92008, (760) 931-2455, fax (760) 931-2477

District 39 – Marty Block (D) 2016
701 “B” Street, Ste. 1840, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 645-3133, fax (619) 645-3144

District 40 – Ben Hueso (D) 2016
333 “H” Street, Ste. 2030, Chula Vista, CA 91910, (619) 409-7690, fax (619) 409-7688

State Assembly

71st District – Brian Jones (R) 2nd term, 2014
10152 Mission Gorge Road, Santee, CA 92071, (619) 441-2322, fax (619) 441-2327

77th District – Brian Maienschein (R) 1st term, 2014
9909 Mira Mesa Blvd., Ste. 130, San Diego, CA 92131, (858) 689-6290, fax (858) 689-6296

78th District – Toni Atkins (D) 2nd tern, 2014
1350 Front Street, #6054, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 645-3090, fax (619) 645-3094

79th District – Shirley Weber (D) 1st term, 2014
1350 Front Street, #6064, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 531-7913, fax (619) 531-7924

80th District – Lorena Gonzalez (D) 1st term, 2014
1350 Front Street, #6022, San Diego, CA 92101, (619) 338-8090, fax (619) 338-8099