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Bakersfield considering bringing boutique wineries to downtown

Posted at 9:38 AM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 12:45:44-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Interested in visiting a winery in the downtown area? Well these wineries won't be attached to the vineyards, but they'll still produce your favorite wines.

Currently, the Bakersfield City Council is working towards some changes to allow boutique wineries to open.

Councilmember Andrae Gonzales first pitched the idea back in November, saying with the success of microbreweries in Bakersfield he's confident bringing another eclectic industry to the downtown area will reap rewards.

A boutique winery sources its grapes from an off-site vineyard and produces less than 10,000 cases per year.

"This will provide the opportunity for a lot of winemakers to do that work right in the downtown core,” Councilmember Gonzales said.

In order to make this idea a reality, the city will have to make an amendment to the Bakersfield Municipal Code adding applicable definitions to allow boutique winery use as well as parking requirements. At this time, the code that allows breweries or distilleries conditional permitted uses in the downtown area excludes wine
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“There are some folks who are interested in opening a boutique winery in downtown," Councilmember Gonzales said. "They’re still looking at a site but now that we’ve changed the ordinance this gives them the confidence to proceed ahead and I’m really excited about that.”

At the last city council meeting in June, the council heard the first reading of the changes made to the ordinance in order to allow boutique wineries.

The changes included incorporating the use into the Zoning Ordinance as “by right” in the downtown area and adding operational standards for the boutique wineries to comply with. These standards include maintaining an approved Wastewater Discharge Plan from the Bakersfield Public Works Department, a valid alcohol license and an appropriate permit from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

“This was a huge step forward," Councilmember Gonzales said. "This is the momentum that we’re trying to build.”

This isn't the first time Councilmember Gonzales amended this ordinance in order to expand industry operations in the downtown area. In 2018 he proposed a similar change to allow microbreweries "by right" downtown and again in 2019 to allow for microbreweries to exist without needing to serve food as well. Councilmember Gonzales said this is what allowed Second Phase Brewery to open.

The City Council will hear the ordinance read for the second time at their meeting on July 14. Should the changes be approved, the ordinance will take effect a month later, opening the door for boutique wineries to set up shop downtown.