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Lodi Farmers Speak Out Against Businesses Masquerading As Wineries

LODI (CBS13) — The wine industry boom in Lodi isn't sitting well with some farmers, who are calling this newfound prosperity a big problem.

Lodi is known as the Little Sonoma. They've been growing grapes here since the 1900s, but because of the recent winery boom, the world has taken notice—and so have some agitated farmers.

Nearly 80 wineries and hundreds of Lodi labeled wines.

"I think its a good thing. It brings more money to Lodi," said Lodi resident Rachel.

That success has produced spinoff businesses at wineries such as weddings and even concerts.

But some farmers believe it's making Lodi's agricultural areas more crowded and noisy.

The San Joaquin County Farm Bureau agrees, saying, many of those new businesses don't produce a drop of wine, but are using the winery name to sell events, organizing loud concerts in normally quiet rural communities, and disrupting farm operations by parking in farm fields.

There's even a concern about crime.

"They don't want it to turn into Stockton," said Anthony Kahl, "That's a big fear really a rather valid fear especially given how close Stockton is and what Stockton's problems are."

The board of supervisors is now asking staff to explore modifying the winery ordinance to address those issues.

"That's viable that's coming to our community," said Tony Ferria. "That's how we sustain our community."

The tomato farmer believes county officials are missing the big picture and could stifle an opportunity.

"The traffic that its bringing is visiting other businesses. It's visiting hotels, its going to restaurants, its going to fruit stands."

Oak Ridge Winery is one of the largest in Lodi.

"Anything that we do, which is eventing, I think it's good for the community and its good for business," said Nicholas Karavidas.

The San Joaquin Farm Bureau says they support the expansion of wineries in the area, but they don't support businesses that are wineries by name only.

Supervisors have decided to entertain a one-year moratorium on certain marketing events and a revision of the county's current winery ordinance.

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