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Winery bill vote looms

Published on June 2, 2011 3:01AM

Last changed on June 30, 2011 8:39AM

New law would allow more events, sales for mid-sized wineries


Capital Press

SALEM -- Mid-sized wineries can hold an unlimited number of promotional events under legislation lawmakers are considering.

House Bill 3280 also allows wineries to sell gifts and merchandise and serve food at events.

But it restricts nonpermitted mid-sized wineries from holding outdoor concerts or from renting their facilities for weddings.

And the bill caps income most wineries can generate from incidentals and activities at 25 percent of a winery's on-site wine sales.

In testimony May 24 before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Oregon wine industry said the bill represents an industry consensus. It would clarify what is and isn't allowed on wineries in farmland, winery representatives said.

Currently, wineries operate under a mish-mash of county rules.

The bill, however, was not warmly received by the land-use watchdog groups 1000 Friends of Oregon and the American Planning Association.

"If you want to be creative, you could become an event center under this bill," said Steve McCoy, farm and forest staff attorney for 1000 Friends.

"It's not what the bill does, but what it doesn't do," said Stephen Kafoury for the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association. "We don't think it has tight enough boundaries."

HB3280 creates four categories of wineries and regulates each differently.

Small wineries, consisting of at least 5 acres of vineyards on at least a 20-acre tract, can hold promotional events by appointment only.

Mid-sized wineries, consisting of at least 15 acres of vineyards, and large wineries, consisting of at least 40 acres of vineyards, are allowed to hold an unlimited number of promotional events, provided the events are subordinate to wine sales.

Mid- and large-sized wineries that wish to hold concerts or rent facilities for weddings or other events can do so under a conditional use permit.

The state's largest wineries, consisting of 50 or more acres on a single tract, can operate full-service restaurants, are not required to obtain permits for non-marketing events and are not subject to the 25 percent income limitation. Less than a handful of Oregon wineries fall into this category.

The bill was scheduled for a committee vote after press deadline.

A previous version of HB3280 passed the House by a vote of 52-3.

The bill would need to go back through the House for concurrence of amendments if it clears the Senate.


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