Some local vintners gathered Wednesday to learn more about a county proposal some contend will reduce land values, cut jobs and reduce area tourism.
An estimated 100 people jammed a Holiday Inn Express conference room on Kettleman Lane on Wednesday morning to hear about the proposal, which would restrict the ability of some wineries to stage events, such as weddings and receptions.
"The (current) ordinance is so vague and so undefined," said Courtney Christy, administrator at Abundance Winery, which hosts several parties with live music each year.
The changes grow from concerns by some rural property owners that some wineries have become more event centers, with a focus on events with loud, amplified music instead of the actual production of wine.
Wineries that already have a county permit to conduct so-called "marketing events" like parties, wedding receptions and fundraising events would be grandfathered in under the proposal that the county Planning Commission will consider on June 7.
However, if a winery doesn't already have permission to hold marketing events, it won't be able to in the future if the county wine ordinance is amended.
Furthermore, wineries that already have a permit would be able to have parties and other events, but they wouldn't be able to schedule more than the county already allows them to have, county planner Mo Hatef said during a phone interview earlier in the week.
The issue has created a firestorm in the Lodi area. The county has received 70 to 80 form letters opposing a change to the ordinance, Hatef said. Those attending Wednesday's meeting pledged to attend the Planning Commission hearing as well.
People who live in rural areas are divided on what should be allowed.
Kapiniaris Vineyards' application to have a winery with entertainment on Davis Road near Turner Road was strongly opposed by several neighboring property owners.
A neighbor of several wineries in the Turner-Davis road area said at Wednesday's community meeting that Abundance Winery on Turner Road plays music that rattles neighbors' windows. Christy, the Abundance administrator, said that the Turner Road winery has 120 people at many of their events, but it has a decibel machine to make sure the music isn't too loud.
The Board of Supervisors approved the Kapiniaris winery to follow the current standards. The county will allow up to 30 marketing events per year at Kapiniaris. Attendance will be limited to 150 people, and events must end by 10 p.m.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.