It has been a longstanding act of balance between Woodinville’s rural origins and natural character with those of the city’s development and bustle. The proximity to the mountains, Lake Washington’s northern tip, and the expanses of farmland lend their identities to the city, allowing for a character that is entrenched in nature just outside the metropolis of Seattle. King County holds both, the emerald city and areas now developed with similar rigor. Spirit, beer, and wine operations have all found happy homes in unincorporated Woodinville.
Some are happy about the growing developments and the introduction of tourism as a major moneymaker for the city and its inhabitants. Others are feeling stripped of the charm their city has quietly adorned for decades.
Matthews Winery, owned by Cliff and Diane Otis, is one establishment that is trying to find a balance between growth and the code regulations of unincorporated King County.
The Woodinville Weekly received a letter dated March 28, 2018 addressed to Cliff and Diane Otis from the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) with the subject “Revocation of Settlement Agreement for Parcel 152605-9092” signed by Interim Director, Jim Chan.
In that letter, Chan references a January 28, 2016 settlement agreement with King County regarding the pending adult beverage code changes in relation to enforcement case ENFR12-0239. In the agreement, Matthews Winery promised “not to undertake any construction or any form of activity that will increase business’ regulatory non-compliance.”
The letter continues to reference a received and verified complaint of an expansion of the business use on the property following a grading permit that was obtained and a grass area added outside the tasting room. Additionally it notes that the property continues to be used for events and activities without submitting a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) as required to the DPER for these events.
In conclusion the letter states, “These violations are a breach of our settlement agreement. DPER is advising you to immediately cease use of the grass area for winery activities, and submit a TUP application for the events occurring on the property.”
We contacted Matthews Winery for a statement and they provided the following information in response to the DPER letter.
We have roughly eight acres here in rural King County, which includes grass, farm, and woods. We think people are looking for an authentic Woodinville experience when visiting Woodinville wine country, and we enjoy showcasing our beautiful valley to the visitors we are proud to host. It’s the marriage of Washington wine and Woodinville farming that we believe makes this area so special, and a focus we are committed to moving forward.
We believe King County shares in our vision and we are committed to working side by side with them as we all help shape the future of our beautiful valley, by protecting our rich and fertile farmland, and by providing experiences that bring our community together in unique and festive ways.
Although there have been challenges throughout the process to modify and update local zoning codes, a process that is still underway at King County, we believe common sense will prevail in both protecting our local farmland for generations to come while still clearing the way for local businesses to provide an experience that we can all be proud of.
The Woodinville Weekly is hopeful for a conclusion that will satisfy all parties and we’ll keep you updated as we receive any additional news.