Virginia Wine Update from Matt Conrad of the Virginia Wine Council:
“This past Friday a circuit court judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit issued an order that could impact the Virginia wine industry far beyond the borders of Fauquier County, the locality in which Kate Marterella operates her family’s farm winery. Although the case centers on the interpretation of the Declaration of Covenants governing the Marterella’s subdivision, the judge held in the order that the on-site retail sale of wine is not an agricultural activity.
In defense of this position, the Court references Webster’s New World Dictionary, 3rd Ed. for the respective definitions of “agriculture” and “retail.” Specifically, the Court holds that “agriculture does not include the on-site retail sale of wine by the glass.” The Court analogizes that “a farmer who sells the cattle he raises on his property is engaged in agriculture, but he could not sell butchered and packaged meats to consumers on his property and still call it agriculture.” We at the VWC believe the beef cattle farmer would disagree and we know our winegrowers do too.
In its order, the Court makes no reference to the July 1, 2009, amendment to Virginia Code Section 15.2-2288.3 that declares “the agricultural nature of … activities and events” relating to the marketing and sale of wine at Virginia farm wineries.This past session of the General Assembly, the Virginia Wine Council fought hard to have that designation made part of Virginia law and it is regrettable that the Circuit Court did not take notice of it.
Take a moment to read the Order, which is linked here.”