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Proposed changes to the Winery Definition Ordinance of Napa County

Peju Winery Napa by Paul Bailey

The Board of Supervisors took up an item at its October 6 board meeting that will give the board a range of options to consider revising the Winery Definition Ordinance (WDO).  The WDO was a controversial ordinance passed in January of 1990 that was a compromise between the growers and vintners that regulated issues such as marketing, minimum winery parcel size, tours and tastings, signage and minimum percentage of Napa County grapes required in each winery.  Some of these issues have become hot topics, particularly now that the agri-tourism business has had a significant slow down.  While there are parts of the WDO that have worked very well, marketing of events is an issue that has become especially controversial.  Essentially, if an event doesn’t educate or develop the wine trade, they are not allowed, which eliminates cultural and social events including business meetings, birthday parties or weddings. The Napa Valley Vintners with the support of other grower/winery organizations came up with an alternative plan to study which would allow changes through the current temporary events/special events programs under county control without opening up the WDO.  This would make changes that would stimulate our local economy and do it while letting the industry debate the merits of regulation that only impacts the wine industry. 

-from the October 16 issue of Bill Dodd, Supervisor, email newsletter

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