Bill Hocker | Mar 5, 2015
There are several suggestions that might be made regarding the interpretation of the WDO rather than its rewriting. The 2010 WDO is here
and the WDO interpretive guidance is here
. These suggestions are made in a total lack of knowledge about what is or isn't realistic.
1. Use a better metric to define "clearly incidental and subordinate to the primary operation of a winery as a production facility."
RIght now "incidentalness" is only implied by square footage of space devoted to marketing vs production, although 40% is hardly incidental. But even that is a really unreliable metric (marketing is often carried out in the production space) and nothing in the ordinance says that the spatial ratio defines incidentalness. Might it not be better to compare the revenues from the sale of wine to the revenues from the sale of everything else as a measure of incidentalness? I could be wrong, but I think that wineries have to keep very accurate records of revenues related specifically to the wine they produce. Compare that number to their total revenues. This would have the further advantage of allowing a quantification of the aggregate tourism industry at wineries and how important winery tourism is to the total wine industry. Once an appropriate county wide ratio is established, marketing plans could be allowed to increase or required to decrease based on the previous years results.
2. Begin counting outdoor terraces and gardens as accessory space.
AB 2004 (the Evans Bill) passed in 2008 allowed wineries to begin selling wine for consumption in "picnic areas" on winery premises. Suddenly outdoor areas became principal profit centers at the winery. But no one has bothered to begin including those areas as part of the accessory area of a winery. (It is included in the winery development area but not the accessory area used to establish the 40% ratio.) There is nothing in the WDO to prevent their inclusion in the accessory area if "accessory structure" is interpreted to include terraces and gardens. This has been been questioned in planning commission meetings this last year and now is the time to begin including it.
3. Require proof that winery food is being served at "no charge except to the extent of cost recovery".
A traditional tasting is $50. A wine and food pairing is $125. $75 for the food is at cost? A $125 lunch is at cost? It is a lie to claim that food service is not a profit generator. If it didn't generate profits then the changes to the WDO in 2010, which were only about expanding food service activities, would not have happened.