General Plan policies call for the development of regulations to further define compatible agricultural promotional activities including their permissible sizes and intensities. The General Plan also states that visitor-serving uses even if related to surrounding agricultural activities can be detrimental to the primary use of land for the production of food, fiber, and plant materials. The goal of the General Plan policies is to preserve agricultural lands and maintain the rural character of the area while enhancing the economic viability of farms. The Board of Supervisors directed staff to develop regulations addressing winery events and potential over-concentration.
In June 2015, the Director of Permit Sonoma formed a group of industry representatives and neighborhood groups to advise staff on the key issues and policy options. The Working Group met for six months ending in early November 2016 and gave considerable insights into the business needs and the impacts of winery events to the local area.
The Board of Supervisors held a study session in 2016 and directed staff to prepare options for updating policy on regulating winery events, particularly in the three areas of local concentration:
- Dry Creek Valley
- Westside Road
- Sonoma Valley
In 2017, the Dry Creek Valley Citizen’s Advisory Council developed Guidelines for Visitor Serving Uses, including definitions, as a first step in addressing issues related to winery events in Dry Creek Valley. In 2019 and the first part of 2020, the Sonoma Valley Stakeholders Group developed draft Sonoma Valley Winery Guidelines, including definitions, that were presented to the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) in November 2020. The final guidelines will be adopted by the SVCAC in 2021. An advisory group for the Westside Road may be formed to develop draft Westside Road guidelines.
Permit Sonoma is presenting an opportunity for the public to provide input at an upcoming virtual public workshop on the draft County Winery Events Policy- County Winery Guidelines and Standards in February 2021. For more information, click on the Meetings and Documents tabs in the Winery Events menu column. Permit Sonoma will present the draft Winery Events Ordinance and Definitions for the entire county to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors later in 2021.