Written by Jonathan Du Fault
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors cheered to a proposed ordinance change allowing for more small wineries in the county.
The proposed ordinance change comes from a request from Representative Jim Desmond. The board voted unanimously to direct Helen Robins-Meyer to study expanding tiered winery ordinances, specifically as part of zoning regulations.
The tiered winery ordinance allows tasting rooms with ongoing vineyard operations in agricultural zones. It also established small wineries through an administrative permit.
By rezoning, the county could allow residents in rural areas to own and operate vineyards. Currently, small wine operations in rural areas are required to pay a major permit fee. According to Desmond’s office, this fee can be between $500,000 and $1 million.
By allowing for more wineries and tasting rooms would be a major boost to the San Diego economy.
Desmond added that county wineries generate around $37 million in annual revenues and employ hundreds of people. According to information on Wednesday’s meeting agenda, farmers and property owners have requested the expansion of the winery ordinance into additional zones, “to allow the same streamlined process for the creation of wineries that agricultural zones benefit from.”
Robbins-Meyer will report back to the board with a proposed ordinance change within 180 days. The $120,000 cost for a feasibility study could be included in this year’s county budget, if money is available. Otherwise, it will be covered by the budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year
Desmond, a Republican on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, has been thanked by fellow supervisors, as well as other prominent county leaders for taking the initiative in this big step.