2011 Legislative Update – Accessory Uses at Wineries

2011 Legislative Update – Accessory Uses at Wineries

By Alan M. Sorem
Saalfeld Griggs PC

The legal landscape governing wineries in Oregon continues to evolve. The Oregon State Senate and House of Representatives recently passed Senate Bill 829 and House Bill 3280 in their respective legislative chambers. If either of these bills becomes law, they will expressly authorize certain wineries in exclusive farm use zones to use the winery’s facility for accessory uses, including full service restaurants, incidental retail sales, weddings, charitable or political fundraisers, and other private events. The new bills grant express authority for these accessory uses only to wineries that produce 150,000 gallons of wine annually, are located on vineyard properties greater than 80 acres in size with at least 50 acres of grapes, and also own a second vineyard with more than 80 acres of grapes.

The vast majority of wineries in exclusive farm use zones will not qualify under the new legislation, and the legislation raises questions about the continuing validity of accessory uses such as weddings, banquets and events for existing smaller wineries. Many such uses were previously authorized by local jurisdictions, but nonetheless fall outside of the scope of the current legislation. Every winery that offers accessory uses, or plans to offer accessory uses, should review its current business plan and any land use entitlements to determine whether or not the winery’s operations are in compliance with existing local and state laws and how the new legislation will impact its business. Even if the new legislation is targeted toward uses at large wineries, owners of existing small wineries may be able to continue their existing accessory uses as nonconforming uses or perhaps receive compensation pursuant to Measure 49.

Interestingly, bills concerning smaller wineries and smaller event venues were initially proposed in the legislature but they have not passed either the House or Senate at this time. We will continue to monitor the progress of these bills and others up until the close of the legislative session, which is scheduled for June 30.

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