default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Winery events as political battleground: Why a moratorium isn’t the best answer

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:30 am, Sat May 19, 2012.

A proposed moratorium on event permits at local wineries is drawing blistering reviews.

This week, the Lodi City Council joined in, agreeing to send a letter to San Joaquin County officials condemning the proposal.

Leaders of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and Visit Lodi! are also perplexed, saying the moratorium will snuff out jobs and revenue just as a fragile economic recovery seems to be taking root.

This is a sticky, sticky issue. It includes passionate viewpoints, lots of money and power politics. Sorting through it all, we have our own qualms about a moratorium.

What’s the fuss all about? Noise and traffic, mainly.

And permits. Mainly items called marketing event permits. Of the 58 approved wineries in San Joaquin County, 26 have such permits, which specify the number of concerts, weddings, fundraisers and such that may be held at the locale each year. The maximum number of events, 37, is permitted at Vio Con Brio, for instance.

Under the moratorium, those 26 wineres would not be allowed to expand the number of events they host. And those wineries without the permits would be out of luck — at least until the whole issue can be reviewed through a general plan process that could take a year, maybe two, maybe even three.

The permits equal money. Money, of course, equals prosperity.

That’s why it is hard not to be swayed by those against the proposal.

“I can’t think of anything worse to happen economically to our No. 1 growing industry,” Lodi Chamber chief Pat Patrick told the council this week.

After all, we’re hosting 2 million wine-related visits each year, worth a collective $400 million. That’s everything from hotel rooms to gas to tri-tip at local eateries.

A growing number of these visits are relating to events, such as weddings, wine dinners and musical offerings.

For example, Nancy Beckman, president of Visit Lodi!, tells of a Sacramento CEO who recently booked a winery for an all-day management retreat, then came back for a wine dinner with more than a dozen friends and colleagues.

That wine dinner may not have been allowed under the moratorium, she said.

And yet, along with the flowing wine, the good times and the magical ringing of cash registers, there have been issues. Most relate to bothersome amplified music and lack of parking.

Consider the plight of Dave Isola, who lives northwest of Lodi.

Mr. Isola recently wrote us about the distractions of “wedding season” when music and even fireworks are a nocturnal distraction. One night, he was treated to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” booming from one location while “Stuck in Lodi,” echoed from another.

Isola believes only a few “rogue” locations are causing problems because the county lacks a fair or effective permitting process.

“Do my otherwise quiet summer evenings in the country really have to yield to blaring wedding standards in order to ‘promote Lodi wine?’ Do my property values have to suffer these nuisance conditions so that local hotel occupancy rates might be increased?”

So it is hard not to be sympathetic to Mr. Isola and others who are decidely not part of the glass-clinking festivities.

Moreover, there are concerns that some venues are event centers merely posing as wineries.

That point is raised by the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, which suppports a moratorium until changes can be made, changes the bureau feels must, in the words of program manager, Katie Patterson, embrace a “winery-first approach as well as focus on the theme of being a good neighbor.”

Where does that leave us?

We aren’t convinced a moratorium is the best answer. It does appear the problems are limited and the moratorium is a rather broad brush stroke.

It also seems the county has the tools to crack down on maverick operations if it chooses to do so.

And we aren’t convinced, frankly, that the best, most innovative thinking has been heard on this issue.

The moratorum is set to be discussed by the Planning Commission on June 7.

Let’s call a time out.

County Supervisor Ken Vogel, a farmer himself, is likely conflicted over the politics here, as the farm bureau is pushing one way, the winery owners, at least many of them, in another.

Yet Vogel needs to step forward here. He needs to be the listener, the leader, the one to find common ground here — short of a moratorium that might do economic damage at a very critical time.

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted Yesterday by jeffreyrinek.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

Mr. Chang, from your latest comment concerning out of county comments I presume you are referring to me, at the least. Thank you for partic…


Posted Yesterday by Frank Gayaldo.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

My passion is promoting our local economy. When the sheriff does things like waste $9 million dollars on jail design plans, that has a dire…


Posted Yesterday by Eric Barrow.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Left wing political propaganda nonsense? I thought you weren't caught up in the left right paradigm.


Posted Yesterday by nth degree wise.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Now who is promoting political (right wing) propaganda nonsense? That a sign on a school building (Gun-Free School Zone) is the cause of sc…


Posted Yesterday by Ron Werner.

article: Chris Piombo: Life can be hard for a Do…

The Dodgers, just like the federal government. They think that if you throw enough money at something you can buy what you want. With the …



Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 67


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists