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Santa Maria Planning Commission OKs Golden Bear Winery Tasting Room For Industrial Building

Winery already operates three units on Blosser Road and got approval to operate a tasting room and special events

Golden Bear Winery received permission from the Santa Maria Planning Commission to open a tasting room in the southeast unit of the an industrial building on South Blosser Road.
Golden Bear Winery received permission from the Santa Maria Planning Commission to open a tasting room in the southeast unit of the an industrial building on South Blosser Road. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Despite objections from neighbors, the Santa Maria Planning Commission on Wednesday night approved a permit allowing a winery to open a tasting room in an industrial building.

Golden Bear Winery sought a conditional use permit to operate the tasting room and special events at 2115 S. Blosser Road, Unit 114.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to allow the tasting room, rejecting complaints raised by neighbors including the limited parking.

Commissioner Tim Seifert cast the lone opposition vote, saying the location was not appropriate and the city needs a designated location for beer and wine tasting rooms. 

“I have a different view,” Commissioner Adrian Andrade said, adding the trend is for tasting rooms to be located near bottling operations due to transportation costs. 

“I think this is appropriate; I think this is the next step.” 

The site contains a 29,250-square-foot industrial building filled with multiple tenants, and supported by 73 parking spaces.

Commissioner Gayle Pratt said she drove by the site and observed plenty of parking.

“I do think the proximity parking to the buildings is an issue. However, I think the owner of the building has the most interest in getting that resolved, and I think that's where it will get resolved,” Pratt added.

The Santa Maria Planning Commission approved a permit for a Golden Bear Winery to operate a tasting room. From left are Chairwoman Maribel Hernandez and Commissioners Robert Dickerson and Adrian Andrade. Click to view larger
The Santa Maria Planning Commission approved a permit for a Golden Bear Winery to operate a tasting room. From left are Chairwoman Maribel Hernandez and Commissioners Robert Dickerson and Adrian Andrade. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Golden Bear Winery occupies three other units, but sought a permit to allow wine tasting in the 1,125-square-foot unit at the southeast corner of the building.

“Wine consumers want to hold that glass in their hand, swirl the wine, smell it, taste it, raise a glass, check for color, clarity. They want to see the label on the bottle and they want to feel the weight in their hands,” said Janis Schmidt from Golden Bear Winery.

“A winery is not whole or complete unless they can offer their customers this wine tasting experience,” Schmidt said, adding her vision involves a tasting room that informs and educates wine drinkers.

The permit was similar to another request which the Planning Commission and City Council rejected for Libertine Brewing Company. 

Commissioner Robert Dickerson said the Libertine complaints came from neighboring property owners while the opposition to Golden Bear came from businesses leasing units at the site.

“From this standpoint we really don’t have the same property rights issues we had with the previous (project),” Dickerson said, adding the landlord of the Blosser building remained neutral on the tasting room application.

Unit 114 previously hosted a tasting room when McKeon-Phillips Winery operated at the site.

Under the permit, the tasting room would be restricted to 15 people including customers and employees, city staff said. For special events, the limit would rise to 30, but the restroom would need to expanded to accommodate that many people at the site.

Al Rodriguez has operated the Santa Maria Tamale Shop at the site for 16 years but said he was told he could conduct wholesale business with limited retail sales.

When McKeon-Phillips offered wine tasting at the site, people walked around the complex, some carrying wine glasses and others urinating in bushes.

“My biggest problem is, and I know it’s going to be, is parking,” Rodriguez said.

A metal shop operates in the adjacent unit and an employee expressed concerns about limited parking that will mean wine-tasters would walk by the area where his forklifts operate. 

“Safety is one of the big issues,” said Jonathan Sinor from JD Fabrications which has operated at the site for three years.

Schmidt said winery workers have been trained by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. 

“We follow the letter of the law. These concerns would not come to fruition,” Schmidt added.

City staff said that if problems arise from the tasting room the commission can review the permit in the future.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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