County suggests tightening up noise rules for wineries

Proposed winery regulations to be studied

Progress has been made in the ongoing effort to clarify and update rules that regulate South County’s wine industry.

The most recent development focuses on outdoor amplified sound during events such as live concerts, weddings, fundraisers, etc.

On Thursday, the Santa Clara County Planning Commission put forth a unanimous recommendation that confirms wineries are subject to the county’s noise ordinance. The recommendation, which will go be before the County Board of Supervisors in late May for review, states that wineries must:

– Provide an event notification to adjacent property owners

-Include with the event notification the personal contact information of the wine grower, in addition to contact information for county enforcement

-Set up a hotline for noise complaints

-Set up their sound equipment to minimize the noise impact to surrounding properties

-Limit outdoor amplified sound to between the hours of 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.

“It is reasonable,” said Jennifer Williams, executive director of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau. “All of those things are things that wineries were doing anyway.”

Wine growers already notify their neighbors of upcoming events out of courtesy, she said. The new recommendation just makes the process “more structured.”

At the end of the meeting, many issues were still unresolved, according to Williams.

One of the outstanding topics of high interest that has yet to be addressed is the definition, frequency and size of industry marketing events such as Passport Weekend and wine club dinners.

Hashing out the rules and regulations with the county: A quick overview of the process that’s taken place between wine growers and local government

An comprehensive series of monthly meetings aimed at balancing the practical needs of an evolving wine industry were initiated in September by District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman. The goal of these meetings are to help the burgeoning wine industry in South County grow.

The purpose of the workshop was to review proposed guidelines for a county winery ordinance, which is intended to address rules and regulations surrounding industry-relevant topics such as hosting events, commercial expansion, investing in agritourism accommodations, serving food and showcasing live music.

These proposed guidlines to regulate South County wineries were drafted by the Wineries Working Group.

Known as WWG, the group consists of a dozen local winery owners, the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, staff from the County Department of Planning and Development, Division of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Health, the Fire Marshal’s Office and Jane Howard, executive director of the Gilroy Welcome Center. 

Thursday was the fourth and final time the Planning Commission met with county staff and wine growers. The next step is for the County Board of Supervisors to review and vote on the recommendations hammered out by the Planning Commission. 






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