The January 2017 “Guidance for Food Service at Wineries on Farmland under Oregon Senate Bill 841” issued by the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission and Oregon Liquor Commission with input from the Oregon Winegrowers Association, seeks to help answer questions that have arisen since the 2013 enactment of Senate Bill 841.

Prior to enactment of SB 841, food service at permitted use wineries on farm land was limited to “individually portioned prepackaged foods prepared from an approved source by a commercial processor.” Guidance at 2. Counties may no longer enforce that limited service restaurant restriction on wineries that qualify as permitted uses under current law. Guidance at 3. That said, restaurants are still not allowed.

Oregon’s land use system places a high priority on preservation of farmland for farm use, and state law identifies types of uses permitted outright on land with exclusive farm use zoning and uses that may be conditionally allowed on those lands. (See, for example, ORS 215.283.) SB 841 revised ORS 215.452 to provide production and vineyard size standards for wineries classified as permitted outright. Food service is allowed at these permitted wineries on both exclusive farm use land and mixed farm forest lands subject to statutory limitations.

Given that Oregon Liquor Control Commission Rules may require that food be available as part of the onsite consumption of wine, and the fact that tailored events such as wine-food pairings and winemaker dinners may promote winery success, the enhanced flexibility provided by SB 841 is welcome. Still, as the Guidance makes clear, food service may not become the predominant activity. The Guidance ends with a series of questions that may help a winery operation determine whether proposed food service is authorized at a permitted use winery. Among those questions are:

  • Whether the food is tailored to the wine offerings and marketed as an accompaniment to the wine or is a stand-alone offering;
  • Whether the winery consistently provides substantial food service, or instead reserves this service to special occasions; and
  • Whether the predominant activity in the tasting room is dining as opposed to wine tasting, wine sales and related wine marketing.

At the end of the day, food service may not become the predominant activity at a permitted use winery.  Statutory requirements like the provision that the winery’s gross income from all retail sales of non-wine products and services not exceed 25% of the winery’s onsite retail sale of wine, will ensure that this is the case. Wineries that don’t qualify as permitted wineries may still be conditionally allowed, with food service, as a commercial activity in conjunction with farm use.