Winery owners. A question about tasting room requirements

We are geting ready to open our first tasting room. We are in city limits but I am unaware if the county health dept will need a sign off before i can get the dupe 02 approved. Im assuming that being in city limits that all I need is city sign off with respect to buliding and safety esspecially with ADA requirments and bathroom configs. The city only requires one ADA approved bathroom and the county will require two. If Im in city limits will I need a county health code sign off to get my dupe 02 approved by the ABC? ANy stories off your situation would help. Thanks.

From a retailers/wine bar perspective:

In California, wine is classified as food and any establishment serving wine is required to have a permit from the Health Department to operate. One extra set of plans has to go to the Health Department for approval. Requirements include approved commercial dish washer, 3 compartment sink, hand washing sink, floor sink, mop sink, walls covered with FRP and sealed floors of linoleum, cement sealed with epoxy, etc in the “kitchen.” One person on duty must be Food Safety Certified at all times. Wineries are not required to have a hand sink at the serving bar, but as a wine bar, we are required to have a sink at the bar.

Health department only required one unisex ADA bathroom and one employee bathroom for us. It may be different for a winery. The Health Deparment also required us to have a “secure” room for employees personal effects. The health departments “review” of our plans cost almost as much as the building plans with the city.

Thank god we are not in California! We are in Woodinville, Washington. The city and the Liquor Control Board are the only ones that need to sign off on our tasting room. The city was only worried about our parking situation and the WSLCB only was worried that we could lock the place at night. We don’t serve food, but do have events were we have some nibbles. There are rumors that that county Health Department sometimes does inspections when there is food involved, but pretty much leave us alone…

From what I gather a wine bar and winery tasting rooms have huge differences and given your story, I hope thats the case… All that won’t fit in a 500 sg ft tasting room!!! headbang

Before we move forward I need to know if the county health has to sign off on a tasting room if I am in city limits to get my dupe 02 approved or if the city is all who has to sign off on the plans. Anyone do this exact same thing and can offer some details? Thanks guys.

I don’t know if this is the case, but listening to a Marin winebar owner’s tale of woe, I think it’s pretty crucial to know everything about the Health Dept requirements before doing anything. My friend estimates that Health Dept mandated changes cost him $50,000 before they signed off. The “go ahead and do it, and ask for forgiveness later” approach did not work in this instance. They got down to specification of the color he could paint his walls and ceilings. Needless to say, all the appliance certifications they required made these items 4X more expensive than what you would buy for non-foodservice use. Serious hoop jumping may be required.

Thanks for the reply. Here is my exact situation.

Before you read this keep in mind this only pertains to a winery opening a tasting room and not a wine bar (the two are comnpletely different from eachother).

We want to open a very small tasting room for our winery. We are in the city limits, we will have to file for a dupe 02 to get the abc to give us the right to move forward. The builing we want to use does not have a ADA approved bathroom. Soooo we know we will have to put one in but our city only requires one unisex bathroom given our sq footage. The county requires a seperate ADA approved bathroom for each gender regardless of the sq footage (this would put us seriously over budget). The million dollar question is do we have to get the county health sign off to get our ABC dupe 02 approved if we are in city limits or is the city sign off enough. We have to know the answer to this question before we move forward given the dollar amount it will affect us with. Thanks again guys!!!

Steve, I don’t have an answer for you, and not sure if anyone here would either since your question is so specific. Any reason you don’t just contact the agencies in question (ABC, city building department, county health department) and ask them? That will give you a much better answer than anyone here could give you.

And a word of caution when dealing with accessibility issues - don’t just go with what your local city or county codes may require, as there’s no guarantee that they will meet ADA requirements. The ADA is not a code, and there are numerous discrepancies between applicable codes and the ADA. So you can be in a situation where you meet all the codes required for your permits, but still end up being sued over ADA violations.

Ken, Good advise!!! We want to ensure we do not have ADA issues at all. The county and city are so disjointed that the other just assumes they are in charge. In our case, the truth can make or break us here. We will ensure ADA specs given all the targeted lawsuits but to what extent past ADA requirements is the problem. I will call again tomorrow to both and try to sort this out. Ill keep you posted. In the mean time, if someone does read this and has info please feel free to post. Thanks.

I’d agree that the only way you’re going to get the right answer is to ask your own city’s building department. Then verify what they tell you with County Health. In Orange County (CA) most cities do not have their own health department (just Building & Safety). They defer to the county for that. The city I built my winebar in had a county health person with an office in their B&S department.

I can understand that your desire is to get out in front of the situation to avoid the problem of one telling you one thing and the other something different. You might try calling Rosenthal or Stemmler (in Malbu) to see what they faced their, but Malibu may do it differently. What about calling Agua Dulce? It would make sense that the rules for wineries would be different than for winebars, but who really thinks government rules always make sense?

I found this on a lawfirm site. Looks like ‘tasting’ is different from glass or bottle sales, and no food sales makes it even more probable…but???:
"If a winery decides to sell wine by the glass or bottle for consumption at the winery, the winery should determine if this triggers the need for a health permit. Wineries are food facilities and wine is considered “food” under the California Retail Food Code. Under this Code, if a winery sells food or wine, it may need a health permit. A winery is exempt from the requirements of obtaining a health permit if there is no sale of “food” including wine for consumption on the premises. In order to obtain an exemption, a winery must follow the rules established by county Departments of Health Services.'

But that’s only in reference to health issues, not building and ADA issues. BTW, the glass sanitizer, triple sink and other requirements are really for the safety of the public. It’s a little hard to fathom why they’d be different for a winery, but who knows? Unless dirty wine glasses aren’t enough of a health hazard?

Peter, Thanks for the input. Can I ask what law firm you found this at. I might contact them for help. Thanks.

Sooo. Here’s the skinny. County health requires a food permit cause serving wine is considered food. So we have to have two gender specific ADA approved bathrooms with special requirements, a special lowered portion of the bar at least 6 feet long, 3 sinks for washing glasses, one seperate sink for employee handwashing and one mop sink. A special hot water heater with two elements and a million small details like proper signage. plumbing permits for it all to be installed then we can start the permit process with them which starts at $1000 for plan review. so in our 500 sq ft building there will be 400 ft of requirements and 100 sg ft for us to put a bar in and add retail… Got to love California.

If you still feel you need help…

Here’s the link:" onclick=";return false;

I’m not personally familiar with that law firm (just found that article by Googling), but I HAVE had good info from Hinman & Carmichael, in San Francisco:" onclick=";return false;

Lynne Carmichael was very helpful when I was first trying to decipher the on-premise issues in our local area. That was more about license conditions imposed by local municipalities, but she was very knowledgeable on all aspects… said she does lots of work with wineries. First phone conference was free. [The other partner, John Hinman is a director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association.]

Just be glad you didn’t tell them you want to cut bread or cheese on the premises. That sets off a whole other bunch of requirements, including about 140 sq ft or so of stock room, lined with special shelving… even if you don’t need any of it for food. At least that’s how it is in the wonderful OC. Oh, and a $3000 dish sanitizer too. [shock.gif]


Good luck.