Credit: Andrew Schoneberger

The first official blow to an ambitious plan for funding future Santa Barbara County wine country marketing efforts came last week, when the Lompoc City Council voted unanimously to opt out of the proposed 1 percent assessment on sales of county-made wine. 

The vote effectively shielded the city’s 60 bonded wineries from paying into the proposed business improvement district, or BID, that is being pushed by the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association. 

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The association believes that the 1 percent fee would generate about $1 million more in annual funding, better positioning the region to battle for advertising, tourism, and critical attention against much more powerful and better-funded regions statewide such as Napa, Paso Robles, and Temecula.

But the BID proposal — which requires more than 50 percent of wineries to approve, with voting weighted on annual sales, followed by adoption by the county’s Board of Supervisors — is firing up a strong opposition. Said Kate Griffith of Flying Goat Cellars, who led the Lompoc opposition, “In the 18 years that I have lived in Santa Barbara County, the proposed Wine BID has done more to polarize and mobilize wineries opposed to it than anything else.”

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