Sonoma County winery development at issue in debate about events 


Tuesday: 2 p.m. Board of Supervisors study session on winery events.

By winter: Supervisors expect to have a draft ordinance on potential new regulations on winery development and events ready for review by the county Planning Commission.

Next spring: Supervisors are expected to take up potential ordinance on new regulations for the wine industry.

Sonoma County has approved more than 300 new wineries and tasting rooms in the past 16 years — a nearly 360 percent increase over the previous three decades — and many of those wineries have decided in recent years to boost business by offering an array of events, from wine-tasting dinners to weddings and harvest parties.
Representatives of the county’s multibillion-dollar wine industry say such events are vital for local vintners to sell their wines and stay competitive.
But the industry’s growth has sparked strong blowback from many rural residents, who say unruly crowds, loud noise and traffic on narrow, winding roads is detracting from the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods.
The expansion has fueled an intense standoff between wine industry supporters and critics over the extent of commercial activity in rural pockets of the county, on properties zoned for agriculture.
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