Winery Audits?
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George Caloyannidis | Jun 25, 2015

[Email to John McDowell, County Asst. Planning Director]

Dear John,

There has been much discussion involving the nature of winery audits and the information we have received seems to be conflicting. In the interest of avoiding arguments or recommendations based on inaccurate information and since from what we understand, it is the Planning Department which conducts winery audits rather than the Auditor Controller, I would appreciate if you could help set the record straight on the issues below:

1) Is there a department head who leads the audit section? Who is in charge of it within the Planning Department?
2) Audits are performed on a "voluntary basis". What does this actually mean?
3) Audits consist of requesting questioners filed by wineries. Is this correct?
4) If this is correct (the equivalent of a tax return), how are winery statements compared against actual conditions so as to assure their accuracy (which is what the public understands under the word "audit")?

According to the May 12, 2015 Grand Jury Report Lines 247-250, auditors: "Review tours and tasting log books and marketing events...determine how the information was recorded and whether they were in compliance with the use permit conditions regarding visitations". Lacking more specific methodology information, the word "how" does not give us enough assurance that the audit result reflects reality.

5) How is "recorded information" compared against reality, which is what auditing for compliance commonly implies?

The Grand Jury Report Lines 267, 270-271 state that "audits review the following activities":
"Are the number of tours and tasting events within permit requirements?" and
"Are the number of marketing events within permit limits?"

While Line 250 states that the audits include compliance to "visitations", lines 270 and 271 include only tasting events and marketing events compliance but no visitations as a whole.

6) By what method are all visitations being accounted for by an audit?

I would appreciate your enlightenment or your directing me to the appropriate person within the County so that the issue is hopefully settled.

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