ByeBye To SantaBarbaraCnty... Don't Let the Door Slam You In The A$$ As You Exit

Interesting article today:

The Millers, owners of Bien Nacido Vnyd, and the Central Coast Wine Services wnry, are fed up w/ the over-regulation of the wine industry in SantaBarbaraCnty and pulling the plug on their winery in SantaMaria. I’ve heard from a number of SBCnty winemakers that SBCnty does not make it easy for them to operate in the County. It’s a shame because the wine industry in SBCnty brings in a lot of $$'s.
There have been a lot of boutique wineries (hate that term) that have started/operated in the CCWS facility. That’s where Craig Jaffurs got his start. Not sure what this means for the current small wineries operating in that facility. Apparently the Millers have lined up two larger facilities up in Northern Calif. When I bottom feed at TraderJoe’s, if I see the wine was bttld in SantaMaria on the label, that’s almost a guarantee the wine will be good.
Tom

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And these jokers want to add a wine BID tax…seems they need to clean up a lot more before running businesses out of town.

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It was a subset of the local wine industry that wanted to add the BID tax, not the county.

-Al

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Tom,

Yep, they informally announced that they were closing down the facility last year but have been asking custom crush clients to leave over the past few years, first so they could concentrate on their own brands and then to prepare for shutting down the operation there (Paul Lato was the last to leave, I believe, and that was just before harvest 2023).

As they stated in the article, SBC has never been an ‘easy’ place to make wines due to a number of factors, including governmental ‘challenges’. Our industry has never been ‘important’ to the County in terms of revenue we bring in, and therefore we have ‘little pull’ within industry. It is a number of reasons that many wineries have chosen to do business elsewhere. I know a few who set up shop in SLO County, especially in the Paso area, for this reason.

It also is a reason that over 60% of the grapes grown within our County get shipped outside of our County for processing. It does not need to be this way but it certainly has for quite some time.

Things have actually ‘improved’ as of late - but really changes will continue to exist for a long time. Most Vintners Associations that I’m familiar with have a ‘government relations’ person on board to work with their local government on all things related to the wine industry. SBC does not and that certainly creates some big challenges as well.

Cheers

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No, the wineries themselves are trying to create this BID in order to provide us with a) more marketing dollars and b) more money to use indirectly for ‘government relations’ . . .

Cheers

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Thanks for the insight. While the reaction of making wine elsewhere seems sensible, the government motivating people to do so seems crazy. Is the revenue really not significant compared to some or various other sources, or is it just that the wine business is treated as if it isn’t important?

For those of us not in the industry, what does “BID” mean? I’m not sure what kind of total is being proposed.

BID is business improvement district, like the local charges assessed when you stay at a hotel especially in tourist areas. There are different types of BIDs in California, with revenue intended to provide for different types of things beyond what is funded the city/county (property, business based, tourism and hospitality).

-Al

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The revenue is quite significant, but not as easily ‘traceable’ compared to other agricultural products grown in the county. Our industry’s impact is huge if you consider tasting rooms, revenue generated in sales tax, employee salaries within the industry, etc.

Cheers

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From what I’ve heard, Santa Barbara County has been making things difficult for wineries for decades. It’s the reason that the Au Bon Climat facility is set so far north in the canyon where Bien Nacido Vineyard is located - the winery is actually in SLO County.

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Isn’t Santa Maria in SBC not SLO county & Bien Nacido is in Santa Maria AVA.

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That’s never been my understanding. ABC has always been part of the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association and could not be if they were in SLO County.
Also, this is stated in:

Blake, I was told otherwise, by someone who would know.

From a discussion at the winery with Bob Lindquist in early 2016:
“There’s a reason the winery is set so far back in the vineyard – something that I’d heard before and that Bob Lindquist confirmed during our visit – the building is actually located across the county line in San Luis Obispo County. The permit process for building the winery back in 1989 was easier there than in Santa Barbara County. There have been four expansions to the original building since then to accommodate the winery’s growing production, most recently in 2008.”

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If you look at a current map of the two counties, the back corner looks to be in SLO County whereas the majority appears to be in SBC. So . . . not sure who they are paying taxes to, etc . . . Interesting . . .

Cheers

Similar to Pride who has a facility literally splitting the Napa and Sonoma county lines. They have two sets of books for everything

Sounds for all the World that those two guys are tax scofflaws!!
But the story sounds plausible.
Tom

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Right on Ken. Surprise, surprise. I just got confirmation from Bob that is so. I’ll get some details later on.

Further conversation with Bob is that they were well aware of this and prepared accordingly.

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Hi Larry,
The last two wineries in there were Chris Caruso Wines and Tatomer. I visited in October, 2023. It was such a massive space. To see Chris and Graham only in there was a bit mind blowing.
Randy

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It was good of them to give the wineries a heads-up, and allow time for them to relocate. Probably it was still stressful, but could have been worse.

-Al

Petition to amend the first part of the title of this topic to:

ByeBye To Sta.BarbCnty