As the new Operations Manager at Cubanisimo Vineyards and new to the Oregon Wine Industry, I’ve been struggling with how to articulate Oregon HB 3280. Lucky for me the Oregon Winegrowers Association did a fabulous job.
PLEASE ACT SOON – The Vote is Monday, June 27th
This is an important time for the Oregon wine industry. We, as an industry, have a chance to move forward or remain in an uncertain past while our industry continues to mature and grow.
The law permitting wineries to operate on farmland was enacted in 1989. Since then our wine industry has grown to be a major economic force for Oregon, driving $2.6 billion into the state’s economy.
We are at a point where we need to modernize our winery siting law. The law written 22 years ago is silent on what kind of commercial activities and events can occur on farmland. The legislature tried to clarify the law last year, but that was a temporary fix that will soon go away. Without new legislation, visitor activities and events may be severely restricted at many wineries.
OWA has gone through a more than year-long process to find a balanced, industry consensus on a new law. We believe the OWA has come up with a proposal that allows for creative wine marketing and business development, while preserving farmland and rural communities. This proposed new law reflects the changes that have occurred in our industry since 1989 and will help write a new chapter for Oregon wineries sited in farmland.
We believe strongly that the focus on the Oregon wine industry should be on the great wines we make and sell, and not on the events that happen at our wineries on farmland. However, we also realize that activities and events at our wineries that directly relate to the marketing of our wines and the Oregon wine industry are critically important to our future growth and success.
We have been working with Legislative leaders, the Governor’s office and other stakeholders to forge a legislative compromise that accomplishes these objectives. We are at the point where this legislative session is days away from concluding. Negotiations are done, and now is the time for the wine industry to show its support for the compromise the OWA, the Governor’s office, our state policymakers and other stakeholders have crafted through careful and thoughtful deliberation.
While we realize the compromise bill before us may not be perfect, the OWA Board believes it is a step forward and allows us to continue to work with one another on a long term solution. The HB 3280 compromise bill does the following:
• Keeps intact the two existing permitted use winery ties – first, 15 planted acres with a maximum annual production of 50,000 gallons; and second, 40 planted acres with unlimited production of wine.
• Establishes new permitted use large winery tier on 80-acre tract, with 50-planted acres on site and at least 80 additional acres off site. These large wineries are allowed full-service restaurants after additional county permitting but are otherwise subject to the same rules as smaller permitted use wineries.
• Makes clear that all permitted use wineries can market and sell wine, conduct tastings and tours, sell incidental items, host wine club activities and do other activities and events that have the primary purpose of promoting the winery.
• Allows winery to do 25 days of non-marketing events (celebratory events & facility rentals) per year. If winery chooses to do more than 25 days of events, it must go through county permitting process.
• Keeps in place, policy that winery’s incidental income is limited to 25 percent of winery’s on-site retail sales. Allows counties to request a letter from a winery’s CPA stating adherence to income limitation.
• Establishes grandfather clause that allows existing permitted wineries to continue operations. Also, continues to allow wineries to be sited under a county conditional use process.
Because there is more work to be done, this law will sunset at the end of 2013. We will continue to work with legislative leaders, Governor Kitzhaber and his Administration and our wine industry on a long-term solution to these issues.
On behalf of the OWA Board, we ask you to support this legislation, which gives us all certainty as it relates to activities and events on farmland and is the compromise that will allow this industry to continue to thrive.
We would be grateful if you’d contact your legislator immediately, asking him or her to support the HB 3280 conference committee agreement; as a vote is imminent in the House and Senate. Here are some suggested messages to send to your legislator:
• The wine industry has been working for more than a year to to modernize the winery-siting statute, with the goal of clarifying the law governing commercial activities, events and facilities at wineries.
• The bill does some important things, such as allowing wineries to sell items, and conduct activities and events that help promote our wineries and the wines we produce.
• It also puts reasonable sideboards around events that arguably go beyond marketing our wineries (e.g., wedding & facility rentals).
• We believe this legislation is a good starting point as we continue to work with state policymakers on helping the wine industry grow and prosper.
• We urge you to support HB 3280.
Please feel free to use the following form letter to contact our elected officials.
Today, the conference committee approved HB 3280. I am writing to you to urge your support of this important bill for Oregon’s growing wine industry when it comes to a vote in your chamber.
As an industry, we have worked hard to gain consensus amongst our members and we are united behind the bill that has emerged from the conference committee.
For more than a year, the wine industry has been working to modernize the winery siting rules to reflect a growing and maturing Oregon wine industry by clarifying the law governing commercial activities, events and facilities at wineries.
The wine industry today represents a $2.6 billion slice of the Oregon economy, up from $1.4 billion industry in 2004. This equates to jobs for Oregonians and revenues for all levels of government. In fact, Oregon wine-related jobs in 2010 totaled around 13,500, with related wages exceeding $382 million. The state generated more than $65 million in tax and licensing revenues in 2010. Wine-related tourism contributed $158.5 million in revenues to the Oregon economy.
Since the start of session, the wine industry has worked with legislators, the Kitzhaber Administration and stakeholders to craft a bill that allows winery activitiesand events that help promote their wines and the wine industry, while preserving farmland and preventing land use conflict.
I strongly urge you to support this conference agreement, which gives wineries more certainty as it relates to activities and events on farm land, and will allow the Oregon wine industry to continue to grow and thrive.