WINOs: ‘Wineries in Name Only.’

The San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation was the main group objecting to the status quo of San Joaquin wineries, or wineries behaving more like events centers, the bureau would say, and less like wineries.

I wanted the bureau’s perspective in today’s column. But  Bruce Blodgett, the Bureau’s executive director, was not able to cal before deadline.

He left a voice mail statement, though. Here it is:

“What are we looking for? We’ve been a part of a group  that has sought changes to the winery ordinance for  some time. To bring some certainty and to bring some –bottom line–standards to what is being done out in the countryside, if you will.

“For example, we have several wineries that have been built that are no more wineries that I am brain surgeon.  … Kind of winery in name only, the WINOs. What they end up being, really, are — well, they don’t make wine, they just hold events. That’s a liquor store and a concert hall, not a winery.

“We support every winery that wants to get in here and sell our grapes. Bottom line. We just have a handful of folks that are more interested unfortunately in marketing events rather than marketing our San Joaquin County grapes through a wine bottle.”

I wondered if the Bureau was just being the old Bureau of No — no high-speed rail, no hiking trails, etc. But Blodgett is right. San Joaquin wineries evolved faster than the regulations that govern them. As Napa’s example shows, they don’t need to be party centers to reach their potential. OK, there ought to be a few party centers. A small base of party centers amid a region of well-regulated wineries.

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