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Supervisors Give OK for Local Wineries

September 27, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday granted approval for local vineyard owners to crush and ferment grapes--and bottle wine--on their own property.

Vintners will be allowed to process up to 5,000 gallons annually, provided the grapes are grown on land owned or leased by the operators with conditional-use permits.

"Winemaking is part of the heritage of the county, most of which ended with laws passed during Prohibition," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "But there are a lot of areas with weather and soil conditions that are very similar to those found in the Napa Valley."

The board's action was opposed by environmentalists who fear it could promote a proliferation of vineyards. The heavy equipment and fertilizers needed to create them--often on steep, unstable hillsides--could cause water pollution and erosion, they said.

But Yaroslavsky argued, "We're talking about boutique wineries here."

"And we're looking at a potential industry in the foothills of Antelope Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains," he said. "This could be a great thing for the county."

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