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Placer County toasts Wine Industry Task Force

Placer County Economic Development Board offshoot lauded for efforts
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The Placer County Wine Industry Task Force will be toasted at Friday?s State of the Community Center for its work in helping identify new opportunities for the area?s growing wine economy. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery named the task force as this year?s winner of the County Award and it will be presented at the Friday fete in Auburn. There are 18 wineries in Placer County, centering around the foothills near the city of Auburn. Montgomery said the Wine Industry Task Force is an outgrowth of the county?s Economic Development Board interest in promoting local wines and vintners. ?The idea germinated in early 2009 after the winery ordinance was adopted in 2008 by the Board of Supervisors,? Montgomery said. The winery ordinance provided clear guidelines on tasting rooms in rural areas, opening up the county to greater agri-tourism. ?The Economic Development Board members ? representing both cities and counties ? recognized that the industry had great potential and that a task force would be in a position to lend support, and help an emerging industry grow and achieve its greatest success in the region,? Montgomery said. And grow it has ? even when the dark shadow of a recession blotted out what had been sunny economic times for the region. Teena Wilkins, of North Auburn?s Vina Castellano, will be accepting the award on behalf of all task force members, past and present. As a bonus, Vina Castellano will be one of the wineries that will be pouring examples of its product at the State of the Community Dinner. Wilkins said that while the economy has taken a hit in recent years, wineries have been a bright spot, with growth in both numbers and production. ?What?s nice is we?ve been doing really well ? growing in a time when businesses are not flourishing,? Wilkins said. ?We?re nowhere near our potential. We?re just starting to take flight.? County wineries have been picking up awards for their taste but Wilkins said that the new feeling of being part of the community is the greatest reward for wineries as they try to grow an industry long dormant in the foothills. ?People are saying we?re not just a fluke,? Wilkins said. ?All the award wins are wonderful but getting the blessing of the community is the best reward.? Montgomery said the task force?s role is primarily one of communication and identifying opportunities for wineries to interact with county and city department heads, elected officials and members of the public. One of the first needs identified by the task force was signage opportunities and other ways for the county to support promotion of a wine trail, Montgomery said. It was a move that also benefitted the area?s cities, she added. ?Perhaps most importantly, this is a forum in which to collectively raise issues and begin working toward removing roadblocks that may impede success for the industry as a whole and promote communication and dialogue among stakeholders,? Montgomery said. State of the Community Dinner When: Friday, May 11 ? cocktail hour at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Where: The Ridge Golf Course and Event Center, Auburn Tickets: $50 per person For tickets and sponsorship information: (530) 885-5616