Navigate Up
Menu + Public Affairs
Home > News Releases

County Adopts Winery Ordinance

County Adopts Winery Ordinance, Promotes Agri-tourism
New Rules Provide Clear Guidelines and Significantly Reduces Permitting Fees
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. On Tuesday, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the Winery Ordinance, which provides clarity to winery regulations and reduces fees for event permits. The purpose of the ordinance is to enhance the viability of local wineries.
“The Winery Ordinance is the result of a year-long extraordinary effort by staff and stakeholder groups,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, District 1. “This ordinance clarifies regulations for wineries, streamlines the permitting process, and reduces cost for wineries, which will help grow the local winery industry in the long run.”
The Supervisors considered recommendations of the Winery Working Group, a group of citizens formed to help develop the ordinance, the Planning Department and the Planning Commission in August. The new ordinance reflects the Board’s policy direction to significantly reduce event permit requirements and costs.
Subsequent to the August meeting, the Planning Office also reduced requirements for outdoor amplified music for small winery events. The ordinance now allows outdoor amplified music at small events via Outdoor Amplified Sound Permit for approximately $1,000 instead of via a Special Permit costing over $2,000. The Planning Office will evaluate noise impact issues on a case-by-case basis.
The ordinance specifies that private noncommercial and fundraising events benefiting nonprofit organizations of any size could be held at wineries in the unincorporated areas. The ordinance also promotes site and way-finding signage.
“The Winery Ordinance is the result of comprehensive outreach efforts,” said Ignacio Gonzalez, Director of County Department of Planning and Development. “Through a number of stakeholder meetings and workshops, we ensured that public opinions were reflected in the ordinance.”
Since 2010, the Planning Department has been holding regular meetings with representatives of the Division of Agriculture and UC Cooperative Extension to discuss agricultural land use-issues. The participants of these meetings identified agri-tourism as being valuable to agricultural sustainability and began looking at ways for the County to better support agri-tourism. The group participants determined that the current winery regulations fall short of providing desired clarity about allowed winery activities. To address that, the Planning Office began a comprehensive review of winery regulations with a focus on ways to better support wineries and to accommodate a greater range of winery marketing activities.
In August 2011, stakeholders formed a Wineries Working Group. The group met and discussed at nine public meetings and developed policy recommendations for the County Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee in January 2012.  From February - May 2012, the Planning Commission has also held five workshops and public hearings, focusing their discussions on the subjects of special events and outdoor amplified music.
In August 2012, the Board of Supervisors accepted the Planning Office’s recommendations and tasked the Planning Office to prepare an ordinance and report back to the Board.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Lingxia Meng, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5130; Kirk Girard, Office of Planning and Development (408) 299-5772
Posted: December 5, 2012