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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Modernizing regulations to support thriving wineries and breweries while protecting the environment and rural communities

Summary

Executive Constantine proposed legislation that will modernize regulations to support the region’s wineries, breweries, and distilleries while protecting the environment and rural integrity of unincorporated King County.

Story

Executive Dow Constantine today sent a proposal to the King County Council to support the region’s growing winery, brewery, and distillery small businesses while protecting the natural environment and rural character of unincorporated communities.

The legislation modernizes the regulatory structure for wineries, breweries, and distilleries, establishes a new business license for the industry, and provides clarity on how rules will be enforced. It is based on extensive outreach and engagement with residents, farmers, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and other stakeholders.

“We are modernizing regulations to support our region’s thriving wineries, breweries, and distilleries while protecting the natural environment and rural integrity of unincorporated King County,” said Executive Constantine. “By working together with residents, farmers, and entrepreneurs, we created a plan that will promote vibrant small businesses and preserve historic farmland."

King County’s Department of Permitting and Environmental Review will enforce the new business license to ensure that wineries, breweries, and distilleries do not negatively impact agricultural land and the surrounding residential areas. The staff will produce a toolkit to help businesses navigate the revised permit requirements.

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Food Safety Division will continue to ensure that wineries, tasting rooms, and breweries adhere to health requirements consistent with all other businesses that serve food and beverages.

"The voters’ decision to preserve the Sammamish Valley for agriculture in the 1970s created one of the great legacies that we all enjoy today," said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. "Preserving the Valley into the future means protecting farmland while also allowing appropriate economic activity to ensure continuing viability and vitality in the Valley. Alongside farms, wineries and tasting rooms could provide this economic anchor for the Valley, but we must find a balance that allows them to succeed while preserving the incredible agriculture and rural environment. I look forward to working on the Executive's proposal to modernize the land use code and finding a balance that preserves our rural and agricultural areas around the county while supporting the growing adult beverage industry."

"The amendments will improve protections for King County’s working farms while allowing wineries, breweries, and distilleries that add value to locally grown agricultural products," said Tim Trohimovich, Director of Planning and Law at Futurwise.

"As a winery owner, property owner and resident of the Sammamish Valley in Woodinville, I can very much appreciate the efforts by the King County Council and King County Executive Dow Constantine to address the myriad of issues surrounding the winery and tasting room zoning requirements and the impact it has on our area," Greg Lill, President of Cashmere Partners and President Emeritus of DeLille Cellars. For the vast majority of the wineries this clarity is needed and will give a structure on how those businesses can operate in harmony with our residential neighbors to create a dynamic and vibrant wine industry within our county."

Frequent Questions

King County isn’t “shutting down” any breweries, wineries, or tasting rooms. We have been responding to neighbors complaining about the impacts of people operating breweries that violate land-use ordinances.

The legislation that the Executive has proposed will modernize regulations to support our region’s thriving wineries, breweries, and distilleries while protecting the natural environment and rural integrity of unincorporated King County.

Having a license from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board doesn’t mean you are exempt from county land-use ordinances, which are in place to preserve the rural integrity of unincorporated communities and protect the natural environment.

The existing codes were created before the winery and adult beverage industry rapidly grew in the Sammamish Valley. That's why we worked with residents, farmers, and entrepreneurs to modernize regulations so codes provide more clarity.

The winery and adult beverage industry in the Sammamish Valley took off so fast that it quickly outgrew our capacity to provide proper oversight. That’s why Executive Constantine proposed this legislation: to ensure that our regulatory oversight is able to operate at the scale needed in the Sammamish Valley and in other unincorporated areas of King County.

We will create a new business license for wineries and tasting rooms that will be enforced by the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, ensuring they protect the people and natural environment in the region.

No, all development must adhere to county stormwater standards, requiring all runoff to be address on-site.

Wineries are allowed up to 24 special events each year outside of their regular hours of operation. One of the demonstration projects that the county proposes in this ordinance looks at lifting the cap on special events for wineries in the rural area while limiting the size and scale of each special event based on number of guests and parking capacity.


Relevant links

Quotes

We are modernizing regulations to support our region’s thriving wineries, breweries, and distilleries while protecting the natural environment and rural integrity of unincorporated King County. By working together with residents, farmers, and entrepreneurs, we created a plan that will promote vibrant small businesses and preserve historic farmland.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

The voters’ decision to preserve the Sammamish Valley for agriculture in the 1970s created one of the great legacies that we all enjoy today. Preserving the Valley into the future means protecting farmland while also allowing appropriate economic activity to ensure continuing viability and vitality in the Valley. Alongside farms, wineries and tasting rooms could provide this economic anchor for the Valley, but we must find a balance that allows them to succeed while preserving the incredible agriculture and rural environment. I look forward to working on the Executive's proposal to modernize the land use code and finding a balance that preserves our rural and agricultural areas around the county while supporting the growing adult beverage industry.

Claudia Balducci, King County Council

The amendments will improve protections for King County’s working farms while allowing wineries, breweries, and distilleries that add value to locally grown agricultural products.

Tim Trohimovich, Director of Planning and Law at Futurwise

As a winery owner, property owner and resident of the Sammamish Valley in Woodinville, I can very much appreciate the efforts by the King County Council and King County Executive Dow Constantine to address the myriad of issues surrounding the winery and tasting room zoning requirements and the impact it has on our area. For the vast majority of the wineries this clarity is needed and will give a structure on how those businesses can operate in harmony with our residential neighbors to create a dynamic and vibrant wine industry within our county.

Greg Lill, President of Cashmere Partners and President Emeritus of DeLille Cellars

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography