While not widely known as a wine region, wine grapes are Sacramento County’s leading agricultural crop by value. Sacramento County has 19,430 acres planted to wine grapes (based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2010 California Grape Acreage Report) and is the ninth-largest wine grape-producing county in California. However, the county only has 18 bonded wineries listed with the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. In an effort to foster growth in this area, the County Planning Division has drafted an ordinance that it hopes will promote agricultural tourism and economic development opportunities.

The draft Winery, Farm Stand and Farm Stay ordinances will set forth development standards for agricultural industries in Sacramento County, and it is intended to attract larger producers to the region as well as encourage small operations to go commercial. According to a press release from the County Planning Division:

“Under the draft ordinance, small wineries (defined as wineries with up to 15,000 cases annual production) are an allowed use in the AG-160, AG-80, AG-40, AG-20, AR-10, AR-5, M-1 and M-2 land use zones. The ordinance will require a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission for large wineries (defined as wineries with more than 15,000 cases annual production) in the AG-160, AG-80 and AG-40 land use zones.  The draft ordinance also allows large wineries in the M-1 and M-2 land use zones without a use permit if the tasting facilities are limited to a maximum of 15% of the square footage of the indoor portion of the winery.”

The draft ordinance was released early in August and a hearing was held for public comment. The next step is to bring the proposal before the County Planning Commission for approval, presumably at the Commission’s meeting scheduled for Sept. 12. The Board of Supervisors could make approval of the ordinance final as early as October. More information is available on the County Planning Division website.


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