Woodinville wine tasting rooms still fighting for future

Woodinville wine tasting rooms still fighting for future (PHOTO: KOMO News)

There was a sigh of relief from several wine tasting rooms in Woodinville, Tuesday, after a key vote on their future had been pushed to next year.

An ordinance was presented to the King County Council which would have limited tasting rooms' size, reduced hours of operation and in some cases shut the tasting rooms down. But the council delayed the vote and will continue to work on the issue into January and February before taking a vote.

Owners are hopeful a solution that keeps everybody open can be worked out.

"I hope common sense, good food and good wine prevail," said Bryan Otis of the Matthews Winery. It's been a big draw in the area just south of the city limits.

Wine tasting has gotten so popular some farmers in the Sammamish Valley are worried they'll be pushed out and the rural nature of this area will vanish. They're asking the King County Council to clamp down on this growth leaving the established wineries alone.

"The vast majority of these tasting rooms are legal operations and they would not be affected by this ordinance," said a farmer with The Friends of Sammamish Valley organization. "The seven violators who would be affected have already knowingly been breaking the law."

The seven wine tasting rooms say they're not violating anything since the county has let them flourish over the past several years. Plus they say they want what the farmers want.

"We have the same desires as the Friends of Sammamish Valley, which is to preserve the rural character and the surrounding farms," said Sal Leone, owner of Silver Lake Winery.

He has operated his tasting room here for four years. But he feared Tuesday might be his last. "Had they passed the ordinance as written I would have been shut down."

But the ordinance is still being worked on and Otis believes a solution can be worked out where everyone wins. "Not really thinking anything is going to be shut down," he said. "I think the people there are looking for a way for everybody to work together."

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