This must seem a no brainer in areas where wineries are prevalent but this story illustrates the local zoning and hurdles facing those who have a dream of opening a winery.
In unincorporated McHenry county, IL a proposed winery has been hashed and re-hashed numerous times by the county board. It finally got the go ahead and a new winery license was created, the long list of proposed amendments were defeated, but the long battle is a case in point.
1. Zoning...some board members dislike changing the zoning with a special use zone from agriculture to the winery. They discussed the idea that 50% of the grapes would have to be locally grown for it to keep the current zoning...when in fact about 10-20% will be locally produced.
2. Tavern/Bar.....by having tastings, the winery is acting the same as a tavern and bar...some board members were all in aflutter about boozing and eventual other non-winery operations such as retail store selling winery merchandise etc.
One vocal critic said: “What we’re doing is turning our winery license into bars that can stay open at bar hours and [serve] bar alcohol. The only difference I see ... is the location,”
A supporting board member said:
“This has taken seven months – we have obstructionists, we have people who just don’t want this,” Merkel said. “I think we’re business friendly. I think ... we’re not giving that impression.”
“If you want a business and it has some controversy, you may as well go to Wisconsin because it won’t go anywhere here,”
Comments are mostly right on the money:
Question - for those of you in more traditional wine country, this must seem
ridiculous, but for those in more recent wine growing areas is this a familiar theme...at least in the beginning? You would think it would be easy to look at how counties around the country have dealt with the issue and just copy them.
What would happen if a microdistillery was proposed!