By editorial board • 

What’s sauce for winery goose, is sauce for brewery gander

For the second time in two years, neighbors and land-use activists seek to deny a farm-based brewery the same marketing opportunities routinely extended to wineries dotting nearby vineyards.

Over the last two decades, the county’s proliferating high-end wineries have increasingly incorporated elements of agri-tourism into their marketing plans. Once limited to scenic vineyard vistas and treasured tasting opportunities, local wineries have steadily added live music and pairing foods to the mix — value-added activities that help wineries market and sell their agricultural product.

Many traditional fruit, nut and vegetable growers have followed suit. They have established farmstands, u-pick, farmer’s markets and CSA operations to sell direct, and begun staging on-site events as an extension.

A national farm-to-fork movement has lent emphasis by valuing fresh, locally sourced ingredients over highly fortified, processed, preserved and packaged fare from afar. It has urban consumers yearning to live more simply and naturally, and looking to their rural counterparts for direction.

Has this fostered conflict? Of course.

This being Oregon, it doesn’t take much to draw opposition from neighbors, citing traffic, noise, trespassing and inebriation; and Friends of Yamhill County objecting to non-farm uses in farm zones.

It would be hard to envision a brewery anywhere embodying the spirit better than Wolves & People Brewery, near Newberg.

Situated on a Century farm, it is growing many of its ingredients on site, including hops, hazelnuts and plums, and eying the planting of more, including barley, peaches, cherries and apricots. Meanwhile, it is delivering spent grain to local farmers to feed hogs.

Last summer, the county authorized owner Christian DeBenedetti to stage up to 18 weekend-only food and music events during a year-long trial period. He ended up with only eight in the first year.

If all went well, he was told, he would qualify for a permit valid for four years. And that’s where we stand.

Friends’ objections here may be further driven by the fact the county approved a conditional use permit in June for another rural brewery and tasting room on Abbey Road. The land is being farmed for grass seed, but also has five acres of hops with plans to plant 15 more acres.

It’s not hard to distinguish a winery from a wine bar or a brewery from a tavern. DeBenedetti has established a brewery on a farm from which ingredients are used in the products, from hazelnuts to wild yeast and eventually hops. That strikes us as no different from a winery established on a hilltop vineyard.


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