Last December, I noted that one property owner’s efforts to establish Fairfax County’s first operating winery were being blocked by Fairfax County zoning officials and neighbors. Ultimately, the zoning issues were resolved and the project was allowed to proceed forward.
Paradise Springs Winery began as the project of a mother and son searching for ways to pay inheritance taxes on a historic farm. Its owners expect to hear any day whether the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will grant them a license to make and sell wine in Clifton, a corner of southern Fairfax filled with horse farms and sprawling five-acre lots. But even if the state grants a license, the county is likely to fight the winery, arguing that it is more of a factory than a farm and therefore inconsistent with zoning laws.
Besides rehashing frictions that exist between Richmond and Northern Virginia, the conflict demonstrates the tensions that have grown between local governments and increasingly powerful winemakers and their friends in the General Assembly
If the ABC grants Paradise Springs a license, Wynn said, the county will probably sue to stop it. And then a court might have to decide a fight over what supporters say would be a novel way to preserve open space and boost tourism and what detractors say would be a menace to neighbors’ peace of mind and motorists on its winding rural roads.
Which is just absurd considering the fact that most of Virginia’s wineries exist in exactly those types of settings and get along quite well with their neighbors, and something tells me they’d like it a lot better than what’s likely to come if the project get scuttled:
Frustrated by the county’s stance, Kirk Wiles, 27, a financial analyst for a government contractor, said it might have been easier to cut up the land into five-acre plots for McMansions. They have already spent $50,000 on legal fees, he said.
“I just think it’s so ridiculous,” he said. “It’s either going to be a winery or it’s going to have to be subdivided into lots. It’s all or nothing.”
The most absurd thing about this is that they’ve had to spend money on legal fees to get permission from the state to do what they want with their property.
Something is truly wrong in this country.