Members of the local wine industry are circulating a petition to stop approval of the draft of a new winery ordinance going before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Some area winemakers say the new ordinance will hurt the wine industry.
Steve Fennell is a winemaker and the general manager of Sanford Winery in Santa Barbara.
He said the new draft took five and a half years and cost around $1 million to complete.
“Our strong belief is while there are some issues that needed to be addressed, they didn’t need to throw the whole ordinance out and spend money to come up with something that is far worse,” Fennell said.
Members of the wine industry said the new draft fails to streamline or clarify the winery permit process. They said the ordinance is more prohibitive than the current ordinance.
“It’s generally more restrictive in what wineries can do on their property. We think some of the limits in terms of number of visitors and types of visitors is arbitrary,” Fennell said.
The draft will also limit the number and types of events wineries can host.
Winemakers are concerned the ordinance will make them less competitive with adjacent wine regions like San Luis Obispo and Napa Valley.
“We hear from people who bypass Santa Barbara County to go to other regions that have a little more inviting atmosphere,” Fennell said. “I had the opportunity to come back to a region that had a bright future. I’m very afraid at the moment that future is in jeopardy.”
The draft goes before the board on Tuesday, Nov. 1 for discussion and a possible vote.
Fennell said winemakers will show up in force at the meeting.