Fresno County makes it easier to get into the wine business

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Most of California's wine grapes come from the Central Valley and go to the big companies. (KFSN)

"Can't beat it, it has a nice floral nose to it and it's just nice and crisp."

Rich Hammond is tasting his "Symphony" wine blend, at his Moravia Winery. It is one of 18 wineries with tasting rooms that are helping to make Fresno County a bit of a wine tasting destination.

"The wineries out here aren't just selling wine they are selling the county. As tourists come in we are seeing in the last four weeks tourists of China, Japan, Germany and also from Denmark."

He says, a surprising number from the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

"So it's unusual for someone from Fresno who's been here all their life hearing someone coming here from those destinations coming here for vacation but we are known for the value of coming here."

Most of California's wine grapes come from the Central Valley and go to the big companies. Nonini Winery has been in Fresno County for more than 100 years and was the first to open a tasting room.

Getting permits and meeting zoning requirements to open small wineries in Fresno County has not been easy. LoMac Winery owner Eric Engelman joined others in asking the Board of Supervisors to change the rules.

"I can tell you our experience opening small wineries have been difficult, to say the least. Anything we can do to reduce the burden on a new winery opening is a benefit to all of us."

The Board is listening, and Supervisor Nathan Magsig made the motion to ease the restrictions.

"I'm very excited with what may come of this as we move forward with an ordinance that makes it a little easier for individuals who have small ag-land and possibly small rural residential parcels able to grow and crush and create just incredible wines."

The Supervisors unanimously approved a process to lower fees and streamline the permit process.

Winery owner Eric Engleman says he welcomes any additional competition.

"Its something we all hope to grow right now there's about 18 wineries in Fresno County that do wine tasting if I had 16 more competitors Id love it because it would bring more people in just to check it out. "

Rich Hammond said it brings the area closer to the goal of being a destination, "Hopefully that's our prime thing, make the Fresno wine region become a destination."
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