Small Wineries Can Have Tasting Rooms: Court

Raise a glass to Ramona winemakers

An ordinance that makes it easier and less expensive for smaller wineries to open on-site stores and tasting rooms in San Diego has been upheld in court.

A California court decided on Tuesday to side with a San Diego County ordinance that allows the expansion of boutique wineries in backcountry areas such as Ramona.

Since 2010, the ordinance allowed small wineries to operate without a discretionary permit – similar to the craft beer ordinance that allows breweries to open tasting rooms and restaurants in downtown San Diego.

Shortly after the winery initiative was in place, it was legally challenged by San Diego Citizenry Group because of traffic concerns, safety impacts and environmental concerns.

But the courts have decided to keep the ordinance in place, allowing the 20 wine-tasting rooms in Ramona to remain open.

"This is a great victory for vintners, wine lovers and the region's farm economy," said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob in a statement. "By reducing costly and burdensome regulations, the ordinance has uncorked a new collection of boutique businesses."

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