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Winery Events

Currently, sales and promotional activities (including winery events) of agricultural products grown or processed in the County are allowed in agricultural zones with a use permit. The Board of Supervisors has directed Permit Sonoma staff to develop regulations addressing winery events at wineries and vineyards (e.g. winemaker lunches and dinners, release parties, wine club parties) and potential over-concentration.

Updates

Winery Events Policy to Board of Supervisors

Permit Sonoma will bring the Winery Events policy (a countywide initiative, outside of the Coastal Zone) to the Board of Supervisors in 2021.

Local Areas of Concentration

Meanwhile, local advisory groups associated with the local areas of concentration are setting their own criteria for evaluating winery event applications:

  • Dry Creek Valley
  • Sonoma Valley
  • Westside Road (may follow the same path)

In the three local areas of concentration, Permit Sonoma updated technical studies related to noise and traffic:

Winery Events Ordinance

Permit Sonoma staff is working on a winery events ordinance for the entire county and definitions related to winery events that is separate from the three local area of concentration guidelines.

February 18, 2021 Workshop Video

Watch video of virtual virtual public workshop regarding the development of the draft County Winery Events Policy.

February 18, 2021 Workshop Comment Summary

View comment summary of virtual public workshop breakout rooms regarding the development of the draft County Winery Events Policy.

Winery EventsGeneral 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.