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Urban wineries allowed in Barrio

CARLSBAD — City Council voted to change the Village Master Plan to allow for urban wineries in the Barrio neighborhood. Council members were in favor 3-1 with Mayor Matt Hall sitting out because he is a property owner in the area.

The move to change the Master Plan came after Adam Carruth, owner of Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach, expressed a desire to open an urban winery on Roosevelt Street in an unused auto body paint shop.

Austin Silva, assistant planner for the city, gave a presentation to the Council, explaining that the change to the plan is conditional. Each winery owner that hopes to open in the industrial and residential area has to get approval by city staff.

An urban winery is a winery in which the grapes are brought in from elsewhere and then crushed and fermented on-site in large tanks.

One issue council considered was the smell that comes from the wine making process. Winemakers assured the Council that the odors produced are pleasant.

“There are no foul odors. Mostly it smells of French Oak and fresh grapes,” Carruth said of the wine making process.

Chris Van Alyea, owner of Solterra Winery, agreed with Carruth and compared the smells to raspberry and guava.

Residents who spoke out against the amendment were worried that wineries would create more problems with alcohol consumption. Susan Marie Smith of Tyler Street was worried about people doing the “Carlsbad Crawl.”

“I get to hear the aftermath of people walking home drunk from the Carlsbad Crawl,” Smith told the Council. “Having a winery is way too close to our residential homes.”

Silva addressed her concerns, saying that restaurants and convenient stores are already permitted to sell alcohol in the area.

Those in favor of the amendment said wineries would increase property value in the area, improve aesthetics and provide another place to socialize.

Danny Yen of Adams Street said he’d like to see an urban winery because it improves the city’s walkability.

“I’m involved in real estate and we talk about a walking index. That index involves what you’re able to walk to or pedestrian over to,” said Yen.

An urban winery in the industrial area creates another place for Carlsbad residents to walk to.

Ryan Scott, winemaker at Witch Creek Winery in Carlsbad, addressed concerns of people getting drunk at wineries.

“Most wineries don’t pour as much as bars. We have a different liquor license. We’re limited to two pours a tasting, or two glasses,” Scott said. “We’re not getting people hammered and sending them out on the road.”

Council members Lorraine Wood, Keith Blackburn and Michael Schumacher voted in favor of the amendment.

Blackburn said before coming into the meeting he thought he wouldn’t want a winery next door to him.

“After listening to everybody, I can prove now that I do keep an open mind. I swayed to the other direction,” said Blackburn.

He went on to say that the idea of a small business wanting to go into the neighborhood shows how far the community has come.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Packard voted against the amendment because he believes there are more than enough places serving alcohol in the area and the city has had problems with intoxication and over serving.

Each winery that hopes to open in the area must first receive approval from city staff.

Carruth says his application has been put in. Residents in the nearby area of proposed wineries are notified and encouraged to voice their opinions to city staff.

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