By Kayla Anderson
At its regularly scheduled city council meeting on Monday, Sparks council members unanimously decided to allow urban wineries within Victorian Square as part of one of its goals to drive tourism into the downtown region.
In 2015, Nevada Assembly Bill 4 was passed granting Washoe County the ability to host commercial wineries and tasting rooms as long as a certain amount of fruit was sourced from Nevada to make the wines. The City of Sparks adopted the “Winery” term as permitted use but they could still only be in agriculturally zoned areas. While there is an area within Victorian Square “off-site” that can grow grapes, a winery that produced wines from grapes grown off-site was previously not allowed in the Downtown Victorian Square Mixed-Use District.
Back in May 2018, the Sparks City Council initiated the process of amending Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code which would allow vintners to create, bottle, age, and sell wines on site while also giving consumers a place to taste the wines which are locally-produced. On June 7, the planning commission further reviewed the proposed changes to allow urban wineries and recommended that the council adopt the new verbiage and code. In Title 20, the term “urban winery” would allow a winery to utilize grapes that are not grown on site.
An “urban winery” within the amended code refers to a bonded wine facility where the building is used to produce wine from grapes grown at a remote location and transported to a structure within the city to be aged, bottled, stored, and distributed. An urban winery is permitted to crush, ferment, re-ferment, bottle, blend, store, ship, receive, and maintain administrative offices as well. An urban winery may also host tasting and promotional events.
The amended Title 20 requires that an urban winery provide a parking space for every 300 square feet of tasting area. However, there can be some commercial use exemptions if certain criteria are met in a winery located within Parking District 1 which covers Victorian Square.
This amendment to the Sparks Municipal Code was put forth by the planning commission to help reach the city’s goals of facilitating the infill, redevelopment, and enhancement of Downtown Sparks.