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King County updates regulations for wineries, distilleries, and breweries

The King County Council approved legislation updating regulations for wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

The King County Council approved an ordinance Wednesday setting new rules for distilleries, breweries, and wineries.

The updated ordinance provides businesses with new rules limiting how tasting rooms and production facilities operate in unincorporated King County.

Some of the new regulations include rules around the size and scale of distilleries, breweries, and wineries, and limits on parking and hours the businesses can stay open.

The ordinance impacts several areas like Vashon Island, Woodinville, and Fall City, which are known for their tasting rooms.

“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,” King County Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci said in a statement.

Previous | King County farmers fear code changes will hurt local growers

The updated ordinance does not allow tasting rooms to proliferate. In rural King County, tasting rooms will have to make the beverages they sell onsite. King County businesses in the agricultural zone will be required to grow what they sell, which will tie the business to the land.

The changes were made after community members and businesses raised concerns that the code, which was adopted in 2003, failed to regulate the growing industry. The growth of wineries in the county has been a big concern for farmers and environmental advocates in the Sammamish Valley.

“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,” said Balducci.

The ordinance is the first update to tasting room regulations since 2003. The changes have been part of a discussion over the last year and a half.

Also see | Washington now home to nearly 1,000 wineries