KING COUNTY, Wash. — The King County Council approved on Wednesday new legislation for wineries, breweries and distilleries in some parts of unincorporated King County that could cause some businesses to shut down.
Businesses in rural areas will no longer be able to have tasting rooms unless they produce onsite the wine or beer being sold there. Those that are also in an agricultural zone will be required to actually grow what is sold.
The updated code will also restrict the hours and sizes of such businesses.
“The code the King County Council adopted today provides clear and measurable rules for businesses to follow and for the County to enforce. It strikes a balance that will enable wineries, breweries and distilleries to operate in rural and agricultural King County, but at a size and scale that protects our agricultural lands and preserves the rural character of eastern King County and Vashon. While this has been a highly contentious issue, I believe we have found a good balance that will enable us to successfully regulate the industry and preserve the heritage of our rural and agricultural areas going forward," King County Council Vice Chair Balducci said in a statement Wednesday.
Several owners of tasting rooms in Woodinville and on Vashon Island said they could close because of the changes.
King County officials said the rules will help maintain the character of communities.
When KIRO 7 covered the proposed legislation in June, some residents made it clear that some tasting rooms were a major concern.
“This ordinance isn’t about wine production facilities, breweries or distilleries that make product, it's about where people are going to go and drink,” said Serena Glover with Friends of Sammamish Valley.
There are about 1,000 wineries in Washington. King County identified dozens of businesses that are out of compliance.
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