Fauquier Wineries Reflect on New Restrictive County Ordiance

Jul 15

On Thursday 7/12, the Fauquier Co. Board of Supervisors, in a 4-1 decision, voted to adopt a new ordinance which would restrict the number of people a winery could invite to a food event to 25, and even then, put a limit of 2 such events per month per winery into effect.

Amongst the Fauquier wineries, opposition to the new ordinance was strong, although two wineries–Linden and RdV, which oppose on-site festivals and large events, supported the new ordinance.

Rutger de Vink, proprietor of the new RdV vineyards in Delaplane, says he supports the new ordinance because wineries should stay true to their agricultural roots as “farm” wineries instead of event centers. “As long as [vintner] are farmers, I’m OK with wineries doing events, but there should be a balance,” he says.

Nearby at Delaplane Cellars, Betsy and Jim Dolphin reflect on the impact of the new ordinance for their business. Jim explains that they are a small winery making a mere 3,200 cases lastĀ  year that is not event-centered, and considers himself able to see the merits of both sides of the debate, but feels the ordinance will still impact their business financially.

“We’ve tried very hard to make 100% Virginia grape wines. We rely on small, non-intrusive events to promote our wines,” explains Betsy. Delaplane hosts monthly wine appreciation classes combined with a food pairing. “If we do that just twice a month, we can’t also do another event like a new release party with food or ‘ll be in violation of the ordinance.” She adds that the 25 person per food serving event twice a month limit has been raised to 35. “We know that when regulations go into effect, it’s only a matter of time before they take away more farming rights.” She mentions a Fauquier farmer who raised tomatoes and honey, found themselves in violation of a different county ordinance and was fined $5,000 for the violation, and is now being defended by the Foundation for Land and Liberty.

Jim explains that land conservation is a passionate cause in Fauquier County, which has more land in conservation easements than nine states in the country! Although the wineries offered the recently-adopted Albemarle County winery ordinance which was less restrictive, a subcommittee of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors rejected it. Jim says the Fauquier Co. attorney has told the Board that this ordinance may not be legal, which was also the warning of Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore.

It is also a matter of speculation the degree to which the Board’s ordinance represents an actual farming community in Fauquier County in contrast to a powerful moneyed group who don’t actually farm themselves.

The ordinanceĀ  is likely to be challenged in court and the political fallout has only just begun.


  1. Virginia Peanut Farmer /

    What is wrong with this county? Please somebody explain to me what is the real issue here? This is outrageous. Something must be done to stop this county. Who are the thugs pushing this? There is no way this is legal.

  2. Virginia Peanut Farmer /

    PS: Since when do farmers need a permit to sell what they produce on family farms? May God help the soul that tries to tell me I need a permit to sell what my three generation farm with back breaking hard work is producing on our land.

    This makes me fired up angry and it should make every farmer in this great Commonwealth do something about it TODAY! It could happen to you, to all of us!

    Such ordinances are Anti-American and they surely are NOT Virginia! I’m sounding the alarms – hear my battle cry fellow farmers – this will not be tolerated – not now and not in Virginia.

  3. You have read this exactly. The powerful moneyed group who do not actually farm themselves had the ordinance writted. As with other Faqu.Co. ordinances the Zoning Administrator received the complaint and then notifies the offender. The offender has limited time to offer their defence. The Zoning Administrator then considers the reply and rules against the offender. If the offender wishes to go higher, they must post $500.00 to appear before the Board of Zoning Appeals and if they win, the $500.00 is not refundable. The record of winning with an appeal to B.Z.A. is that only two times has the B.Z.A. ruled against the Zoning Administrator. This Zoning Admin.is Judge, Jury and Executioner.
    Is this American justice??? Madge

  4. Richard….a point of clarification/correction:
    Fauquier County has more land in conservation than ALL BUT nine states, meaning it has more in conservation than 41 states!

  5. Rogue /

    Follow the money. The County is out of control, doing the dirty work for friends that want to run property and business owners into the ground. If the County is using the office to advance the personal agenda and greed of some, then they need to be fired (zoning administrator)pronto. The PEC is green for greed.

  6. Matt C. /

    It’s nice that RdV and Jim Law are purists about how they go about their trade, but please don’t be such snobs about how other wineries make their money (it is a business after all). It isn’t like Fauquier is fending off out-of-control farcical wineries such as Well Hung, which makes awful wine and did more to try and sell their T-shirts at VVA12 this year than their wine. Well maybe BOW is a little over the top, but they’re more quirky than anything.

    The Board members OTOH should be racked, drawn and quartered for attempting to do blatant and malicious damage to businesses within their jurisdiction.

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