Carol Fowler said it best: “It will have a huge economic impact right now for our community.” The “it” is the passing of the new winery zoning ordinance that the county supervisors are expected to be voting on this summer. The on-again, off-again ordinance to allow bonded wineries in the Ramona Valley to have onsite tasting rooms along with onsite retail sales has been a vision for the local wineries for several years. Currently there is only one legal tasting room in Ramona and that’s Schwaesdall Winery located just off Highway 67 as you head out of town. John Schwaesdall officially opened the winery in July of 1996 and said he averages anywhere from 15 to 25 visitors on the weekends when the tasting room is open. According to John, having other wineries open with tasting rooms would greatly enhance his business as well. Not to mention other retail and eating establishments in Ramona. The Ramona Valley has long been an ideal growing area with its warm days and cool nights. In fact, The Ramona Valley American Viticultural Area is 139 square miles surrounding Ramona with more than 50 commercial vineyards covering 60 acres and 16 bonded wineries.
There are concerns about the increased traffic, especially on private roads, and this ordinance is far from being a done deal. But the compromises that have been worked out along with all of the positives fully outweigh the negatives. With several restrictions and a permitting process in place, the potential impacts on the environment should be minimal. And what would you rather see as you drive into town, more housing developments and strip centers, or rolling hills with vineyards?
This is one more step in making Ramona a destination and not just a drive through on your way to someplace else.