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San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation spars with winery owners seeking to expand

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Bruce Blodgett, San Joaquin County Farm Bureau’s executive director

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:00 am

Larry Lawrence stands on the main patio at Viaggio Winery, picking through a ring of keys to open a locked wooden door. It leads to the room where he and his wife, Terri Lawrence, had hoped to open a little sandwich counter to serve visitors to Viaggio, a dramatic estate on the Mokelumne River.

But Larry Lawrence says he’s given up on the idea; the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, he says, is blocking any further moves.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jerry Bransom posted at 6:13 pm on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    Jerry Bransom Posts: 365

    It is clear that government sponsored organizations have become self-serving. We need a complete purge to rid ourselves of people who protect their job first and their constituents last. Livermore wineries have full blown restaurants and it has simply increased the tax base and made the area wonderful for lunch or dinner. Plus look at Mondavi - they sell sandwiches and cheese and you can go there and have a pretty good lunch if you want. I can buy drinks or bottled water at Peirano. Someone tell me what threat these are to the agricultural area? I wish someone would sell a sandwich to help some of these tasters sober up! Make no mistake, this is about money and has nothing to do with agriculture. Those jerks at the farm bureau and some of the other organizations around here have a "Holier than Thou" attitude just like so many other agency acolytes.

  • Janene Rodrigues posted at 1:10 pm on Tue, Apr 16, 2013.

    JRodrigues Posts: 1

    I would like to make a comment in regards to Viaggio Winery in Acampo being allowed to sell food. I don’t see why it’s not ok for them to open a small deli in a 500sq ft space that is the size of a 3 car garage. So they may sell food to its customer’s that come out to enjoy Viaggio’s Winery and it’s beautiful grounds that are surrounded by walnut trees, vineyards, multiple fruit trees and a fresh vegetable garden area. How would that harm any farmland when the space they intended to use is already on the property being used as a storage room? The Williamson act says they can promote products they have grown on the land so seems to me that's what they intended to do with the deli and fresh produce grown on Viaggio property. This type of business is exactly what our small towns need to bring in tax revenue for the county and state. Why is it that the Farm Bureau will allow, just recently, massive production wineries to be built on our farmland? Does that not destroy the possibility of crops being grown on that land? Then you add the trucks driving in and out of these wineries all day carrying grapes in and wine out. These trucks are what will cause congestion and destruction of our roads unlike the passenger cars that go in and out of all the area wineries. Does the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau only care to approve the applications of these huge establishments, because it will benefit them? I thought the Farm Bureau was designed to help the small farmer. Viaggio Winery is a great wine tasting destination that is helping Lodi be known for its great wines and wineries, allowing them to sell farm fresh deli foods would be helping this small farmer, family owned and run business to survive and bring more business to the area. People say Lodi is the Napa Valley rival but how can we compete with Napa Valley wineries with the mind set we have in San Joaquin County. Mr. Blodgett maybe you need to seek the opinion of the people. Is the Farm Bureau now the 6th seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors or what?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:39 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    Mr. Tarnowski, you are so right. The good old boys still rule in every aspect of the game in the Lodi area and it is time the citizenry made their voices heard at the public meetings by confronting those who think they herd the sheep. Even the infamous leader of the chamber, Mr. Patrick, has his trips to China agenda to promote Lodi wines while leaving the real chamber business, low wage jobs and the annihilation of organized labor, not to mention the abandonment of helping those small businesses here in Lodi unless they are willing to give something in return. The good old boys, wealthy and well connected are always seemingly on the top of the pandered to list and fear anyone who has a better idea or unique way to make their business more successful than the god old boys and their clan.

  • Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla posted at 11:55 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Confused observer Posts: 1

    Why would selling vegetables and flowers from one's farm not be part of agricultural production? Does the Williamson Act only cover monoculture type farms? And how does making soup or sandwiches conflict with with agricultural production? A farmer who grows wine grapes can make wine. Why can't a farmer who grows veggies make soup? The logic/explanation was not clear.

  • mike tarnowski posted at 9:03 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    staplehead Posts: 5

    Hello Washington,welcome to Lodi.When you go to a Starbucks in Lodi you go to a coffee shop for coffee,right.Wait there are mints,gum,C.Ds,t shirts etc.It seems that the "powers that be"in Lodi have no interest in promoting or helping wineries succeed,other than the monster wineries.Too much red tape and chest pounding.I have never seen a community so negative in helping small business succeed.



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