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Poll: Too many downtown tasting rooms?

Take our poll

"Have you seen a mountain lion?"

So asks our current reader poll. We look forward to your "vote" and encourage you to leave a comment, telling us your experiences if any.

Take the poll here.

With 30 or more tasting rooms within a stone’s throw of the Sonoma Plaza, we figured it was time to ask readers whether the downtown’s tasting-room barrel had reached its tipping point.

Of the nearly 200 respondents to the poll, about half said they would prefer to scale it back for a better balance of retail shops. Nearly 30 percent would favor a hard and fast moratorium on new tasting rooms. Meanwhile, just under 21 percent of readers simply said their wine glasses were bottomless when it comes to Plaza tastings.

So moratorium or free-for-all? Whatever happens, rest assured – in Sonoma, the “shop around the corner,” will likely have a crisp sip of rose waiting for you on a hot summer’s day.

Here are some of the more impassioned responses:

Sonoma has devolved into a bordello pandering to the tourists and newbies, with the city government prostituting itself.

Wino Main Street USA, knock yourselves out. Hasn’t been “downtown” in decades.

Stop worrying about the number of tasting rooms. Let ever evolving downtown dynamic environment change naturally.

Prior to tasting rooms, there were empty storefronts for YEARS. Tasting rooms provide local employment and generate tax dollars. The tasting rooms are fine. I’d rather see people drinking and walking than drinking and driving.

We’ve seen the Square go from boutiques and eateries with some wine offerings to mostly all wine offerings all around the Square including inside clothing stores and such! Enough please...

When you walk around the square and feel like every couple of storefronts it’s another tasting room, it has become too much. Instead of being interesting, all you want to do is to ignore them.

The wine industry’s influence is way out of proportion, to the point of absurdity.

There can be too many, but the market will show us what that number is. As for a more balanced downtown, the Plaza is no longer, nor should it be, a “local serving” area.

I tell my sister every time we drive past the square to take into consideration that these people have been sampling wine. They open car doors as we drive down East Spain. They keep their car doors open, turn around stick their behinds up and dig in their vehicles. They’re funny.

It’s fine to have a few tasting rooms but over 30 is insane and shows just how much Sonoma has changed and is now tourist/wine driven instead of being a resident-driven town. When I moved here in 1992 we had so many more interesting stores on the Plaza that actually served the residents. We will probably never see that again but we need to find a much better balance. Rents are so high on the Plaza because of the greed of certain owners that wine tasting rooms are often the only business that can afford to lease. It’s a big problem.

I regret moving to Sonoma because there is very little on the Plaza for locals. The wine tasting is totally out of control. While, I’m at it, why don’t we have any good, not-too-expensive restaurants?

The face of Sonoma has changed and it should hide it behind its hands.

The number of tasting rooms is not the issue. Parking is. When is Sonoma going to address our lack of parking?

Take our poll

"Have you seen a mountain lion?"

So asks our current reader poll. We look forward to your "vote" and encourage you to leave a comment, telling us your experiences if any.

Take the poll here.

I moved from a town whose council rolled over for a chamber of commerce that never stopped chasing tourism, until there was little left for residents. There’s no putting the cork back in the bottle once that happens.

Yes there are far too many tasting rooms. Our City Council and Planning Department have let us down by allowing the square to be filled with places that locals do not use. Please bring back through zoning and moratoriums a balance of retail on the square that serves locals and tourists.