By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- A bill regulating winery activity on farm ground is now in the Oregon House after clearing the Senate by unanimous vote April 25.
Senate Bill 841 scales back the number of events wineries in exclusive farm use zones can conduct from the existing 25 days to 18.
The bill allows wineries in the Willamette Valley up to six events per year under an over-the-counter administrative license, and seven to 18 events per year under a streamlined land-use permit.
Wineries wishing to conduct more than 18 events per year can do so under a conditional-use permit.
Wineries outside the Willamette Valley can conduct up to 18 events per year under an outright use.
The bill caps the amount of revenue a winery can generate from activities and incidentals at 25 percent of on-site wine sales. And it stipulates that wineries can pair food with wine but are not allowed to offer menu options and otherwise function as a cafe.
The bill stipulates that new regulations do not apply to ongoing, legally established activities at existing wineries.
Tasting rooms are exempt from provisions of the bill and are allowed as an outright use throughout the state.
"The wine industry believes that this bill balances the protection of farm land and the need for economic tools to make wineries successful," Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said in introducing the bill on the House floor.
The bill was crafted by a work group convened by Gov. John Kitzhaber that included state and county officials and wine industry representatives.
SB841 is backed by the Oregon Wine Growers Association and regional wine associations, Roblan said.