Explaining yesterday’s wine ordinance vote.

While San Joaquin County Supervisors yesterday unanimously voted to approve revisions to the county’s winery ordinance that defined events and set limits on guests and music, among others, the discussion to get there took a lot longer than you can imagine.
The final 5-0 was reached only after supervisors voted to amend some aspects of the proposed revisions. Those aspects included the sale of beer at events, limitations on guests at accessory winery events, requiring a parking attendant, and when outdoor music needs to end.
The following is a breakdown of how those votes were cast.
1. Allowing wineries to sell beer at events: Passed 4-1, with supervisor Chuck Winn dissenting. Some in attendance suggested selling beer in addition to wine at events would give non-wine drinkers something to drink, or slowly introduce non-wine drinkers to the beverage. Those who suggested the sale included Visit Lodi! CEO Nancy Beckman and Lodi attorney Trent Diehl, who represents the Lodi Association of Wineries.
Winn explained that the events in question were geared toward marketing a company’s wine. If a guest was not a wine drinker, Winn suggested they could drink either soda or water on site.
2. Limiting the number of guests at accessory events to 100: Failed 2-3 with supervisors Carlos Villapudua, Kathy Miller and Winn dissenting. Community Development Department staff recommended a cap at 80. The Lodi Association of Wineries wanted the cap at 120. Chair Moses Zapien and Supervisor Bob Elliot wanted to come to middle ground and suggested a cap at 100.
3. Limiting the number of guests at accessory events to 80: Passed 3-2, with Elliott and Villapudua dissenting. Elliott still wanted to reach a middle ground. Villapudua suggested not placing a cap on attendance, stating it felt like the regulation was unfairly punishing many of the wineries who had been following the ordinance from the beginning. He also noted that many wineries make most of their income off accessory events, and the county shouldn’t be regulating how much a winery stands to make.
4. Requiring parking one parking attendant for every 50 vehicles: Passed 5-0. Supervisors said attendants would make sure guests don’t park on roads or cause traffic issues, which was one of the reasons revisions to the ordinance were first sough in 2014.
5. Requiring outdoor music to end at 9 p.m.: Passed 3-2, with Villapudua and Elliott dissenting. Events will end at 10 p.m., but music has to stop an hour before that. Elliott and Villapudua said the ordinance should just have everything end at the same time across the board. Having music stop and hour early might confuse both wineries and residents, because typically, when music ends at any event or party, that means the event is over. If events are allowed to continue until 10 p.m., so should the music.
County staff will come back to supervisors in a year to see if these revisions are working or not.

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