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Cache County considers changing 'dry' status to allow wineries to operate

Utah lawmaker wants to legalize ‘wine of the month’ importing
Posted at 12:12 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 09:35:40-05

CACHE COUNTY, Utah — A proposed change that would allow wineries in unincorporated areas of "dry" Cache County has received overwhelming public support, according to the Herald Journal.

This support is in contrast to the views of several council members, who worry that it could increase rates of alcohol abuse and set the county down a “slippery slope.”

Several local farms approached the council in 2018 to propose changes to allow for wine and hard cider production.

“This ordinance is about agriculture, 100%. “That’s all this is about — preserving agriculture. That’s the only reason we brought this to the county, ever, was to say we need a way to produce something more valuable on our farm . . . .” said Keith Meilke, co-owner of The Vineyards at Mt. Naomi Farms in his testimony to the Council.

Cache County Council’s Chair Gina Worthen said she has “not heard one person” opposed to changes in county code, but others urged caution.

“Alcohol can be a public safety and public health issue . . . and our office does want the council to be mindful and careful as they consider whether to adopt laws that could potentially increase alcohol consumption and use in the county,” warned John Luthy, the Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney.

But Council Member Paul Borup argued if a winery was allowed, it would serve both the council’s goal of “keeping the country, country, and the city, city,” while limiting the chances of alcoholism in the area.

Even skepics acknowledge that the majority of the community is in support of allowing wineries and hard cideries, especially as it relates to agritourism.

Farms are under pressure to convert to more profitable crops as well. Meikle explained that "the problem was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Keith said, and “the development pressure on our farm has gone ballistic."

The council is expected to revisit the issue on Feb. 26.