Napa Considering Its Future
If you ever doubted the veracity of the idiom, "Necessity is the mother of invention" then just read what the powers that be are considering in Napa.
After 20 years of living under the Winery Definition Ordinance that banned anything but "Appointment only Tastings" and weddings at wineries founded after 1989, there is consideration now of loosening those restrictions. Why? The economy sucks and many who previously saw no need to tempt a "Disneyland-like environment that many see as the natural outgrowth of easy tastings and weddings, are now thinking maybe we need to loosen restrictions on wineries to help them survive this downturn.
This is a very contentious issue in Napa Valley and Napa County. Many in and out of the wine industry fear that allowing too much "marketing" activity in agricultural zones will serve to threaten the agricultural nature of the Valley by encouraging development as well as by clogging the roads with even more cars filled with travelers who are only seeking their next taste of wine.
But then, again, the economy sucks!
From a political perspective, the question seems to be can the anti-development/pro-agriculture crowd come to terms with the pro-winery/pro-commercial group over how to allow greater commercial activity in ag zones.
The point is made by some that without unshackling the wineries so that they may be allowed to do more "marketing" on their land and in their winery, they may not survive. The point made by others is "give the wineries an inch and their lawyers will take a mile."
I look around and I see a lot of wine-related business, businesses that form the core of the economy in this region, hurting like they never have before. Many are being bought up by larger concerns. Others are going into bankruptcy. If there is not a way to give wineries more latitude to market in a way that encourages more sales and economic activity and to do so in a way that satisfies the pro-ag/anti-development crowd, then both sides ought to be ashamed of themselves. In an economy like this, where many people's livelihood and futures on the line, this is not the time to put your back against the wall and insist on the purity of your position.