Microbreweries, agri-tourism are on supervisors’ radar
San Diego County Board of Supervisors directed the county planning department to look for ways to reduce restrictions and make it easier for people to start microbreweries and cheese-making operations and to promote agri-tourism.
Planning department officials said they could return to the board with a work plan to begin the process this winter.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose District 2 includes Ramona and who brought the recommendation to the board on June 26, said the region is emerging as a craft-brewing capital with more than 60 microbreweries, and the county should promote agriculture and the local economy.
Jacob said the county has had success in boosting agriculture in a similar area — by streamlining permitting processes to promote boutique wineries — and is working to ease regulations for horse-related businesses.
“As a result of those efforts, we have really boosted our winery industry,” Jacob said. “In what I would call a blazing success, we have today, in just a couple of years since the ordinance came into effect, nearly 20 boutique wineries operating in our region.”
Eric Larson, director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said there is a strong connection between microbrewing and the local farming community.
“People may say, ‘where’s the connection to agriculture?’” Larson said. “But I do want to report to you we have a number of hops growers in San Diego County — driven by the local brewery industry looking for local hops. We’ve also had a number of inquiries into our office from folks interested in growing grains in San Diego County to sell to local breweries.”
Larson said farmers are interested in supplementing their income through agri-tourism, where farmers charge people to visit their farms to see how they operate, or even work on the farms.
“And there’s a lot of demand for that,” Larson said. “You may be aware we did farm tour days, an annual event that the bureau did two weeks ago. We had nearly 800 people signed up. We opened up 13 farms for an open house, and the demand was overwhelming.”
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