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photo credit: Courtesy of Al_HikesAZ/flickr
Adding rules to Sonoma County’s wine industry is never easy, and the latest attempt to regulate winery events is causing a stir.
 
"Unfortunately, the commission got lost in the weeds and the recommendation is an attempt to micromanage a business that the commission does not understand and it challenges that they cannot comprehend," Mike Martini said. "Please do not overreact to a problem that does not exist."
 
Earlier this month the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors took up an ordinance drafted by the county Planning Commission to regulate winery events in agricultural zones.
 
Wine industry stakeholders - just as they had done during the planning commission drafting process - made their opinions known.
 
"It is clear that what you have received is not what you've asked for and has gone way above board, and as I look at this article about businesses leaving California and why it's about regulation and too much regulation is not good for business," Tom Blackwood of Buena Vista Winery said.
 
Threats to direct to consumer wine sales and intimate tasting experiences also came up.
 
"And to be quite honest, consumers want something that's small and intimate and not the big 250, 500 [person] mass tastings," Nick Frey, President of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission said.
 
So too frequent concerns about business dynamics.
 
"And at ever-changing and evolving times, it is imperative that the wine business has the ability and flexibility to remain nimble," Andriana Duckworth, interim Executive Director of the Sonoma County Vintners and Growers Alliance said. "An ordinance such as this would not allow for that ability."
 
Not all commenters viewed potential regulation negatively though.
 
"Really, capacity is one dimension to the impacts," Marc Bommersbach with the Westside Community Association said. "If you can have an event with parking and septic for a hundred, and you're doing that ten times a year, that's not the same as doing it a hundred times a year. There are increased impacts by going from ten events to a hundred for the same size at the same site capacity."
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