After a full-day hearing lasting into the evening Wednesday, the State Water Board unanimously approved a new Winery Order.
Many winery owners and industry advocates pleaded with the board to allow more flexibility for smaller wineries. They feared the cost of installing groundwater monitoring wells for the regulation could reach as high as $500,000, forcing owners to sell out or quit the business.
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The Wine Institute’s Noelle Cremers said this hurts an industry already dealing with more than $4 billion in losses due to the pandemic and nearly as much in wildfire losses. The cost for implementing the regulation, she said, will be nearly $800 million, to be covered through winery fees.
The board chair and staff acknowledged the regulation is complex, but argued that is because it allows flexibility.