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San Diego County Boosts Local Wine Industry with New Ordinance

5 Aug

Wine producers and wine enthusiasts of Southern California should rejoice as San Diego County has finally eased restrictions on the establishment of tasting rooms for smaller “boutique” wineries.  Local wineries that bottle less than 12,000 gallons per year will now be able to operate tasting rooms that offer retail sales.   Also, wineries that bottle 120,000 gallons annually or less can now register under a new “small winery” classification which allow for pre-approved events to be held on the winery premise, such as weddings or other types of parties.

In the past, efforts to allow for tasting rooms were stunted by those worried about intoxicated wine tasters driving irresponsibly on the privately owned roads used to get to these wineries.  A provision in the new ordinance now calls for those operating tasting rooms to work out easement issues with the owners of these private roads.

The new ordinance displays a conscious attempt on behalf of the San Diego County government to expand the local wine industry by streamlining regulations and making them more simple to understand.  The movement was spearheaded by the Ramona Valley Vintner’s Association, who have been advocating this change in policy for many years.  It is estimated that nearly half a dozen new tasting rooms will open by the end of this year.  In addition to spurring growth in the wine industry, the project is aimed at increasing the already booming tourist business, and expected to boost the number of restaurants, cafes, and hotels to accommodate those seeking to explore the San Diego wine trails.

From a broader outlook, the move further strengthens a California wine industry which already makes up over 90% of the total U.S. wine business.  As appellations like Napa and Sonoma became increasingly congested, winemakers sought to establish new wine destinations such as Paso Robles or Temecula.  San Diego could be the next in line to achieve this status.

This San Diego Union Tribune article explains the new tasting room situation in more depth.

Image credit to Filomena Scalise /

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