Dear Editor,

Your King County Council is trying to shut down several longstanding, family-owned wine businesses in the heart of the Sammamish Valley wine region, without consideration for jobs lost, harm to the environment, or climate change impacts.

Proposed Ordinances 2022-0147 and 2022-1048 will shut down small businesses, while offering no protection for the agricultural environment of the Sammamish Valley. 

These ordinances, sponsored by Councilmember Sarah Perry, would require these wineries to expand their footprint and move more wine production into the valley. Why would it be beneficial to truck Eastern Washington grapes across the state and process them in this peaceful area with the increased noise, wastewater, and waste materials generated by wine production? These ordinances will increase the carbon footprint of our wineries and King County!

During grape harvest, wine production requires round-the-clock activity for 6 to 8 weeks. How would that enhance the Sammamish Valley for our neighbors nearby?

What happens if they shut down these small businesses? Zoning allows shooting ranges and RV parks as replacements, despite proximity to agricultural lands. 

These ordinances place limits on parking and retail spaces that differ from other business. What other businesses are being so tightly constrained – and for what purpose? These ordinances appear designed to make it impossible for these winery businesses to survive, forcing them to shut down.

These wineries and tasting rooms are perfectly compatible with nearby neighborhoods and farmlands. We hear from residents that they enjoy us in the area, that we provide an authentic rural setting for wine tasting. The farms in the area benefit directly from visitors to the wineries and tasting rooms that visit their farms to buy fresh produce. 

Wine is a product that requires direct-to-consumer contact. Tasting rooms are a winery’s local farmstand. It is essential for our small eastern Washington wineries to bring the products to King County where the majority of customers live. The State Legislature authorized wineries to open tasting rooms apart from their winery operations, and prohibits winemaking at tasting rooms. These county ordinances contradict state law. 

The County Council is exempting wineries on Vashon Island from these new regulations. The Council should do the same for the seven wineries and tasting rooms in east Sammamish Valley. It’s a win-win solution that will continue to protect the air and water quality and the peaceful natural setting that we all cherish. 

Vince and Carol Bryan

Founders, Cave B Estate

(1) comment

Michael Tanksley

This letter offers an outrageous misrepresentation of facts. To start with, the authors of this letter have been willfully violating King County zoning laws for nearly 9 years by operating their retail outlet where the zoning does not permit such businesses. Their actual winery, Cave B, is located next to The Gorge Amphitheater in eastern WA. It is a beautiful estate winery with on-site lodging and restaurant. This is where they grow their grapes and make their wine. This is where their “small family business” is based. Like the handful of similar violators in the Sammamish Valley, all outside city limits, they’re will not be forced out of business if King County finally starts enforcing the zoning codes. They can simply locate their retail outlet literally across the street, inside the city, where the zoning allows such land uses.

The rest of this article spouts so much baloney about RV parks and farmlands that one struggles to identify any editorial accountability here.

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