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Sonoma City Council to get tasting room rules

A modest set of tasting room regulations were unanimously approved by the Sonoma Planning Commission on Thursday.

After two-and-a-half hours of testimony and deliberation, the planning panel agreed to limit the hours of the majority of the tasting rooms, but declined to recommend any limits on their numbers.

The lone “no” vote came from Commissioner Robert Felder. “Let’s be realistic. As more and more tasting rooms open, tasting becomes bar-hopping. We should at least limit the hours of operation to those in a normal business environment,” he said.

Commissioners agreed to limit hours for general public access to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but only from Nov. 1 through March 30. In deference to the tourist season, tasting rooms will be allowed to stay open until 9 p.m. the other months.

“Many small entrepreneurs are barely breaking even because they don’t make a lot of wine,” said Jon Parker, who spoke in favor of expanded summer hours. “Their main goal is to establish a following.”

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