County’s winery events policy gets work-shopped Feb. 18

Permit Sonoma mid-way in process to find common ground in winery events, impact study|

Sonoma County’s ongoing effort to exercise some control on runaway winery event promotion continues this Thursday, Feb. 18, with a virtual public workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. regarding the development of the draft County Winery Events Policy, specifically for the Sonoma Valley.

The effort to craft such a policy started as an intra-agency study “working group” in 2015, within Permit Sonoma. It’s well into a public hearing phase to arrive at agreed-upon conditions for agricultural promotional events – such as winemaker lunches and dinners, release parties and other club occasions — as well as wine tasting events and tours, food and wine pairing, and other by-invitation meetings or seminars.

Although regular steps in the process toward a county-wide winery events policy took place with some regularity between late 2015 and October, 2017, that months’ fires shifted Permit Sonoma’s attention almost fully toward fire relief.

The process started up again in mid-2019, specifically for two heavily-impacted winery event corridors, Westside Road between Healdsburg and Wohler Bridge; and the Sonoma Valley from Kenwood through Schellville.

A similar set of guidelines for a third impact area, the Dry Creek Valley northwest of Healdsburg, were presented in draft form in March, 2018.

The result of the current process will be a “draft” County Winery Events Policy, which after review by the Board of Supervisors would become part of county code.

The Winery Guidelines were last reviewed locally before the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Committee, SVCAC, in November, 2020. The Feb. 18 public workshop agenda shows that small group discussion will focus on specific elements of the plan, including minimum parcel size, public access and fire safety, setbacks from neighboring properties or public roads, the number of tasting rooms, on-site parking and design.

Event coordination via a common calendar, and traffic impact and management, have always been as problematical as they are important, as have noise standards and food service definition.

There will also be the opportunity to share such breakout-group perspectives with the larger workshop.

The public workshop will be conducted via video conference only without a physical location from which members of the public may observe and offer public comment. Members of the public may watch, listen, and participate in the workshop through Zoom or by phone. In addition, written comments can be submitted prior to the hearing via email at

For more information about the workshop, to submit comments, or to review the draft ordinance digitally, visit the project website at

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.