Vote on tasting rooms delayed, wineries opening in Maltby

The much-awaited vote on the ordinance impacting Woodinville wineries and tasting rooms is being delayed.

The King County Council's Planning Rural Services and Environment Committee was expected to vote on the controversial ordinance Tuesday. The ordinance was expected to go for a vote of the whole council Dec. 10.  KIRO 7 has learned that vote has now been delayed until January because there is still work being done and questions that need to be answered.

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In unincorporated King County around the city of Woodinville, there are many wineries and tasting rooms that operate out of homes and on property not zoned for businesses. Owners told KIRO 7 the way the Adult Beverage Winery Ordinance was originally written, it would put them out of business by limiting their hours,  the number of events, and the parking. One part of the ordinance requires that 60% of the grapes be grown on the property. Winery owners say the climate makes that impossible.

After years of working on the ordinance, there have been changes made in the proposal since last May. The latest version is less restrictive when it comes to hours of operation and only requires a temporary use permit for events that exceed the occupancy of the business. The King County Council, King County Executive,  wineries and tasting rooms are still working to reach an agreement both sides find satisfactory.

“We greatly appreciate the work of the King County Executive’s Office and the King County Council on drafting regulations that seek to strike a balance for all stakeholders in unincorporated King County, " said Cliff Otis of Matthews Winery. "Generally, we support the striking amendment proposed by the Planning, Rural Services and Environment Committee Chair Kathy Lambert with some clarifications -- namely how the County defines production and events. We will continue to work with the County to develop clear and fair regulations that allow wineries and tasting rooms to operate and thrive while preserving the rural character of our area.”

KIRO 7 discovered a plan by several Woodinville wineries to open new tasting rooms in Maltby, in Snohomish County. John Bigelow with JM Cellars decided to move his production facility from Woodinville to Maltby. He will still have his winery in Woodinville.  While he says the move is not due to the new ordinance underway in unincorporated King County, he said the new facility being located in Snohomish County is a side benefit.  Five other wineries -- II Vitners, Covington, Gorman, Guardian, and Laterus -- will open in the same building complex in Maltby. JP Trodden, a distillery, also has a spot in the new building. Bigelow hopes Maltby will be become a destination for wine lovers. The new wineries are right across from Flower World and are set to open in the spring.