On Monday, after four-plus years, scores of outreach meetings and four Santa Barbara County Planning Commission meetings, the winery ordinance came up for a final vote.

The Santa Barbara Vintners Association, The Econ Alliance and the Santa Rita Hills Wine Growers Alliance urged the Planning Commission to permit direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine sales for small family-owned wineries.

More than a score of winery workers, winemakers and winery owners took the morning off from harvest to urge the Planning Commission to permit DTC sales by small family-owned wineries.

The Ballard Canyon folks continued their argument that Ballard Canyon Road is unsafe and no wine tasting should be permitted.

The county Public Works Department reiterated that the traffic usage on Ballard Canyon Road is below the norm as are its accidents.

The Planning Commission voted 4-1 to permit by appointment tasting limited to 20 individuals for the small Tier A wineries in the Rural Area, but not in the Inner Rural Area.

Besides submitting a written comment in support of the wine industry, Bruce Porter also left the campaign trail and spent Monday morning waiting for his three minutes to speak in support of the wine industry. He urged the planning commissioners to permit DTC sales by small family wineries. He correctly noted that if small family wineries cannot make DTC sales they will not be able to stay in business and the large corporate wineries will buy up their vineyard land.

Bruce Porter understands that small family wineries are the key to preserving our unique valley.

Steve Pepe