In the time it’s taking to resolve litigation over the county’s 2010 General Plan, winemakers could have already fermented a couple of vintages of Monterey County’s signature Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The county’s vision for a winery corridor along River Road, a winding route along the Salinas River south of Salinas, has been slow to take shape, even though new policies set forth in the county’s 25-year General Plan are meant to encourage proliferation of small, artisanal winemaking operations.
In the two years since the plan was approved, streamlining permitting and reducing the minimum winery size from 40 acres to five, only two landowners have applied for subdivisions. Neither has business plans lined up.
That might be due to the recession, or to two lawsuits filed in November 2010 by LandWatch Monterey County and The Open Monterey Project, alleging the plan relies on inadequate environmental review.
But some winemakers say it’s about a deeper cultural and economic norm that’s defined the local wine industry.