SANTA BARBARA -- On Nov. 3, attorneys and professionals of the wine industry will gather for the 2016 Wine Law Forum, which will take place at Fess’ Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara.
The Wine Law Forum is sponsored by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB). This self-supporting program, otherwise known as CEB, aims to provide valuable information and assistance to attorneys across California. The event will be moderated by Richard P. Mendelson, who is an attorney at Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty LLP. Mendelson, who is widely renowned as an expert on vineyard and wine law, is also the director of the wine law and policy program at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
The main goal of this year’s forum is to address competitiveness within the industry. Wineries are facing the obstacle of remaining competitive in the current market while also abiding by all laws and regulations that govern their business endeavors. To address those concerns, the forum will include various presentations. Two of these presentations are entitled “balancing local concerns and industry growth” and “beyond the tasting room.” Additionally, the event has an intriguing list of speakers that is comprised of both wine law attorneys and notable winemakers.
Bobby Clements, who is an account manager at CEB, stated that the lineup of speakers is usually the most popular aspect of the program.
“We can expect anywhere between 80 and 200 people to attend,” Clements told the Northern California Record.
While competition as a whole is a crucial part of this year’s program, it’s important to understand some of the specifics of what makes this current market so competitive, including. Morgen McLaughlin, who will be speaking at the forum.
“I would say land use regulations is controversial. Each county in California regulates their land uniquely. So winery regulations vary pretty substantially county by county in terms of what wineries are allowed to do in terms of events, the number of people and the type of events they can hold,” McLaughlin, executive director at Santa Barbara Vintners, told the Northern California Record.
McLaughlin, along with the other speakers, are slated to speak for more than an hour.
The issue touched upon by McLaughlin is exemplary of what this year’s forum is trying to accomplish. Federal, state and local laws and regulations all have a hand in how winemakers and their attorneys are allowed conduct their business. County ordinances regarding the complexity of land use are certainly pertinent to the main topic of this forum.
"How do wineries stay competitive? It’s hard to stay competitive with other wineries in your own region and in other regions when county governments restrict use. So we’re going to be looking specifically at Santa Barbara County in terms of what we would like to do in regard to marketing and outreach to consumers. But then ultimately, the question is what are you allowed to do on your land," McLaughlin said.