McHenry County Board member John Hammerand has written the following about winery regulation:
When my children were young we played a game called “what is it?” – so here’s one for you.
What is it that serves unlimited quantities of wine and wine fortified with spirits to develop a 80-proof product, opens at 6 am and continues to serve to 2 am?
Of course, it is a tavern.
But that term doesn’t sound too glamorous, so let’s market it as a winery.
I’ve visited Wineries in several states and always enjoyed the experience.
But there are differences between a winery and a tavern.
Until December, the Liquor Commission worked on an ordinance for a winery that would limit samples and require a portion of wine production be from locally grown McHenry County produce.
According to the Winery Business Plan Workbook prepared by the Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University, Wine labeled “Illinois Wine” must have 75% Illinois fruit content.
This is good business development for Illinois, and until the February 2012 meeting, the Liquor Commission agreed.
At the February Liquor Commission Meeting, the definition of a winery was changed into a tavern, allowing wine to be sold by the glass and an Industrial bottling plant with a capacity of a quarter-million bottles of wine per year – with no local produce in its production.
Importing the makings of wine from California or anywhere else would be allowed.
The new ordinance would exempt this new form of tavern from sampling requirements of the State of Illinois’ Liquor Code.
A Wine-Tasting is a self-policing action because the owner will only offer enough samples to encourage you to buy his product in bottles – more would be counter-productive.
Once he starts selling his product by the glass, it encourages his customers to drink more and increases the possibility of patrons losing their sobriety.
How does this help local tourism and agriculture?
How does it help existing taverns that are paying high taxes in Business Zoning, and how does it affect property values when a nice home in the country can have Industrial operations located next to it with only 13 votes from the McHenry County Board?
How does Wine Production differ from pickle or milk production since farmers have always realized that they have to bring their crop to Industrial Zones for commercial processing.
Does this mean the Zoning Laws are out the window?
Until now all the taverns in McHenry County had B-2 zoning.
This limits them to locations with appropriate infrastructure for an Industrial/Commercial business operation. Siting facilities on narrow rural roads with poor lighting and police protection will increase the danger to the visitors and local residents.
Some of the bars that were spot zoned before the existing zoning ordinances took effect are having trouble today with their water and sewerage disposal.
These are only a few of the questions and concerns that I have expressed.
There is a difference between an ordinance and a permit.
The petitioner asked for wine-tasting and stated that he expected 5,000 gallons of production annually.
The new ordinance allows the sale of fortified wine by glass and 50,000 gallons of wine production which would include the construction of a bottling plant.
Once the Ordinance is crafted, it will set the maximum allowed by law and that is why we have asked the hard questions.
If this is “throwing out roadblocks”, I believe that is why I was elected – to protect the ”pursuit of happiness” for all the residents in McHenry County.