Foothill Conservancy Winery Ordinance Letter

To: Amador County Land Use Committee

From: Foothill Conservancy

Subject: Winery Ordinance

As we at the Foothill Conservancy and Amador Vintners Association have consistently pointed out, unwanted degradation of the rural character and agricultural integrity of our winery regions is being driven by commercial type activities that are not essential to our wineries’ sustainability. Large events like weddings and concerts, as well as restaurants and lodging like disaggregated B&B’s, are the source of most disturbance of neighbors, traffic impacts, noise, lighting, visual impacts, and commercialization. These impacts detract from our winery region’s unique beauty, historic significance and rural character that many other wine regions have lost. We don’t want that to happen in Amador County, and your Committee’s action is key to preserving these valuable attributes of our winery regions.

So our ordinance should limit those non-essential commercial-type activities, and use parcel size and setbacks as a valid criteria to tier limitations to, not an arbitrary classification of road categories. We also support AVA’s recommendation to reduce attendance level limits at events to more reasonable levels that are more consistent with our small winery regions, the proximity of neighbors, agricultural land use designations and our limited road capacity.

As we build a consensus around new ordinance language, we should also work together to bring non-conforming uses into compliance with our existing ordinance, so that the non-compliance of a few doesn’t punish those that follow the rules and don’t take advantage of the situation.

Brian Jobson
Board President
Foothill Conservancy

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Leslie Smith, Sutter Creek, CA: Raised in Washington State, Leslie is a happy California transplant having moved to Sunny Sutter Creek full time in 2020. As a nascent fly fisher and lifelong skier, she is committed to the natural environment and brings extensive organizational and finance experience to the board from a nearly 40 year career in banking.