The Board of Supervisors this week approved Sonoma County’s first Winery Events Ordinance, establishing standards for winery events such as parking requirements, food service, traffic management and noise standards.
The board said that the ordinance, some eight years in development, brings consistency to the use permit evaluation process, reduces impacts to surrounding properties, protects agricultural lands and preserves rural character.
“This ordinance was a long time coming,” said Supervisor James Gore whose Fourth District encompasses the Dry Creek Valley and Westside Road. “These standards will help provide clarity and guidance to an important function of a major industry in Sonoma County, while balancing the needs of the community.”
The standards provide a baseline for how the County of Sonoma balances preservation of agricultural areas with sustainable development of wine industry events.
New and modified use permits will be subject to the ordinance, while existing permits will not be affected by the new standards, which are designed to address the impacts of winery visitor-serving uses on agricultural land.
Some examples of the types of standards laid out in the ordinance include establishing tasting room hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., whereas agricultural promotional events could occur between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. The standards also call for a traffic management plan for events with more than 100 participants, including parking attendants, among other specifics.
The Winery Events Ordinance incorporates feedback and input received during numerous stakeholder meetings and community workshops since 2015, including a 195-person public workshop, and previous hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
For more information about the project, please visit the Winery Events Project page.