Sonoma County Looking at Cutting Wine Sippers Off Early

Thursday, Apr 8, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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2009 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Grange Sonoma, hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. [Photo: Paul Chinn]

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Sonoma County's Planning Commission is going to greater lengths to curtail the hours winery tasting rooms stay open. According to Jennifer Barrett, deputy director of the county’s Permit and Resource Management Department,

“The commissioners have noted there’s been heightened concern, particularly among residents along Dry Creek Road and in the Sonoma Valley, about avoiding late afternoon tastings that turn into cocktail hours with bar-like atmospheres. They’ve told the (PRMD) staff that they want more consistent hours in the future.”

Wine tasting rooms in Sonoma County have traditionally stayed open until 4 p.m. But a recent trend has seen some sipping rooms stay open until as late as 6 p.m. With others asking permission to follow suit. Another concern is tasters getting behind the wheel after they have had too much to drink. One resident suggested wine tasting rooms be required to provide designated drivers.

From the sound of it, this debate will amount to a “recommendation” on limited tasting room hours and no existing permits will be revoked or changed.

Eater SF contributed to this story.

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