Saturday, 14. July 2012
The Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance this week severely restricting what a farm winery may and may not do. In the weeks to come, there will certainly be fall out because of their decision. Already people posting on blogs are threatening to support the Fauquier County wineries, but not other businesses in the county thus reducing tax revenue. There were a few disgruntled people that had issues with events at some of the Fauquier wineries. Even though a majority of people have no problem with events at the wineries, the BOS sided with a minority opinion. When will this happen in Maryland?
Recent state legislation has helped make Maryland more attractive to wineries and vineyards. However, Maryland wineries need to be vigilant. Know who your enemies are and keep track of them. Kathy and I attended a Howard County zoning board meeting a few years ago. They were dealing with zoning regulations regarding wineries in Howard County. As the citizen speakers lined up, it didn’t take long to discover that, at these meetings, facts are tossed out the window and innuendo becomes reality.
Who are the enemies to wineries? There are people in communities that believe, even though they have no factual information, that if a winery is built they are going to have events in which thousands of vehicles will clog the one lane county roads. To listen to these people ramble, one would think this is a daily happening. It doesn’t exist. Then there is the second attack from the anti-winery playbook. It is to make a statement that, “If there is a winery close by, drunk drivers will run over the children that we allow to play in the streets unsupervised.” A variation of this was used at the Fauquier County BOS meeting. Again, there is no factual data supporting this outrageous lie.
Be aware that there are people who actually believe these lies. Wineries can do some educating. For example, wineries should constantly let the public and their neighbors know that there are laws that they follow about serving a tasting of wine to visitors. They may not serve underage visitors and people who appear inebriated. Don’t take the stance that everyone knows this, rather take the stance that people need to be gently reminded of this point on a frequent basis. Regarding events, wineries should be upfront with their neighbors. Yes, there are some Maryland wineries that have events, not all of them though. Those that have events have a range of people attending from a few dozen to a thousand. To claim that all Maryland wineries have frequent events that draw thousands of people is a lie.
Maryland wineries, seek diligence, know your supporters and detractors, educate and invite your neighbors to events if you have them.