Wineries and County prevail – tasting rooms STAY OPEN for wine lovers! The “final” word is out on this multi-year legal threat to legitimate business in San Diego County with the removal of this “legal cloud” over area  wineries.

The appeal window for the petitioner (winery opponent San Diego Citizenry Group) closed with the appellate Court posting “Case Closed” to their website on Oct 3, 2013. The winery tasting rooms stay open and Citizenry members learns that as the findings state – that “freedom isn’t free” (see end of this post) and must pay their substantial Court ordered document preparation judgement.

San Diego County prevailed on July 30th 2013 for a second time in court, over winery opponents San Diego Citizenry and their environmental law firm Coast Law. If you’re interested or a “legal beagle,” you can read the details of this 38-page Opinion at 4th Appellate District Div 1 link

This long, divisive, regulatory, and legal tale began back in 2006 when the County began exploring ways to promote the growth of wine grape farming and the related winery industry. The Board of Supervisors directed the planning staff to “investigate options that would allow boutique wineries to expand and operate successfully by right without burdensome regulations.”

At that time, all visitor-serving/retail wineries in the unincorporated areas zoned A70 (Limited Agriculture) and A72 (General Agriculture) required a quarter-million dollar discretionary Major Use Permit  – basically a monetary and regulatory shake-down of small businesses. Additionally, the permitting process was untenable with a long, costly, and perilous hearing and review process that basically prohibited tastings rooms at County wineries. These requirements strangled a growing California wine region “yearning to breath/live free. ” These bureaucratic demands basically annihilated family dreams and thoughtful business plans.

The Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010 was immediately challenged in Court – the challenge was subsequently lost in court (see reasoning below)  but then was appealed which today, was also denied minus a portion of the $16,444 in County legal documentation prep fees assigned the plaintiff (Citizenry). Both parties otherwise covered their respective legal costs. Historical blog information is  available at these links:  and Unless Citizenry appeals this ruling to the California Supreme Court, the Tiered Winery Ordinance stands as there is no requirement to revisit the underlying EIR.

Not surprisingly,  conflict between neighbors and wineries in the Ramona area, so typical of economic and land use efforts nearly everywhere (Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, Temecula, you name it) divided both winery owners and neighbors for what, in the end, was NO problem at all. The conflicts also disappointingly, brought out the worst in human character, where parties not bound by ethics were willing to throw selected wineries “under the proverbial bus” in an embarrassing Neville Chamberlain-like appeasement effort – willing to violate the equal protection clause (see the 14th Amendment) of the U.S. Constitution.

In the ensuing nearly three years years since the September 2010 permissions for tasting rooms By Right of Land Ownership,  there have been NO winery guest related incidents – DUI, behavioral, or otherwise.  This mirrors the experience in Placer County near Sacramento, a budding wine region much like San Diego County. One official from another California County – with a sense of humor – stated “There are no dead bodies in any ditches up here” and suggested calling the California Highway Patrol (CHP) field offices there to validate that there were NO winery incidents there since enactment of that County’s Winery ordinance.

Time is money. Placer County under the guidance of visionary Ag Commissioner Christine Turner, enacted their Winery Ordinance back in the fall of 2008, in a process that paralleled San Diego County’s efforts. Without threat of a lawsuit, their effort was more successful and timely – Placer County’s Ordinance was enacted minus the significant cost ($250,000) and also a two-year delay (time is money)  in developing a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) – a requirement forced upon San Diego County by threat of lawsuit by the aforementioned SD Citizenry group. The 2008 ordinance gave the Placer wine region a two-year head start over San Diego County wineries – that is real money, tourism, and life-years lost – folks – time and money that will never be recovered. As an end note, ironically Christine Turner, now retired, left the San Diego County Ag Department years ago for a promotion to Placer County Ag Commissioner, in retrospect, a notable loss to San Diego leadership.

Despite it all, Eagles Nest Winery has set the highest grape growing and wine making standards for itself. An on-site tasting room is a critical business capability for a Boutique winery.  The economics of scale that exist (well actually there are none) at a premium Boutique winery require on-site retail sales to maximize profits to  sustain operations. Small wineries cannot sustain the costs and staffing requirements of an off-site tasting room. Furthermore an off site tasting room denies guests the premium experience of seeing healthy well-maintained sustainable, organic method vineyards, and seeing and touching the wine making equipment. Premium wines require tastings to appreciate their uniqueness and quality.  For example, 100% of Eagles Nest 2007-2008 wines and Ports have won medals gold-silver-bronze – a total of 30  in the 2009-2010 competition year.

So there you have it wine lovers – another installment (hopefully, eventually, THE LAST) in San Diego County’s “Politics of Wine.”

What you can do: San Diego County residents supporting wineries are urged to remain aware and involved politically and voice their support for legislation supporting the local wine industry. No problem ever got better without the participation of an educated committed constituency. Thank your Supervisors for their past  efforts on this ordinance and offer your patronage to tasting rooms at local wineries!

If you are interested in more information about Eagles Nest Winery you can see: San Diego Reader magazine at . or simply visit the many blog posts on this public blog.

Our Web 1.0 website is and our private blog for customers and wine club is . We’re a leading winery on Twitter at and we have a Facebook presence at and

Authors note: We apologize for the less-than-stellar appearance of this post. Word Press in its infinite wisdom upgraded their application and dropped backward compatibility with older themes, plug-ins, and software versions, and some content features. As such, java script enabling necessary graphics and other formatting options are not presently available to us. We are working to correct this.

 Legal note:

For those readers who appreciate thoughtful legal reasoning/legal discourse, the following is the opinion of the Court following the first Citizenry challenge – as cited in today’s appeal findings.

“On April 15, 2011,the court issued its ruling in favor of the County, denying the writ petition and ordering SDCG to reimburse the County for the costs of record preparation. In doing so, the court found the FEIR [Final Environmental Impact Report] suffices as an informational document. The [BOS] was, by the EIR, adequately informed about the consequences of its decisions. The public (including petitioner) was provided with adequate information regarding the decisions of their elected leaders. That is where the judicial inquiry under CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] ends; any further remedy for petitioner (or those who share its views regarding wineries in the backcountry of San Diego County) lies at the ballot box when the Supervisors stand for re-election.
. . . It is not within the province of a judicial officer to second guess the policy decisions of the members of the [BOS], so long as there was substantial evidence to support their decisions. The court finds that there was.” With regard to the order directing SDCG to pay the cost of preparation of the administrative record, the court found that “petitioner had the option of preparing the record itself; and . . . there is no well-heeled real party in interest (such as a developer) to bear the expense associated with that exercise. Groups like petitioner are free to exercise their petition rights, but as has been often said in other contexts, freedom is not free.”


Politics of Wine: San Diego County, Wineries & Wine Lovers Prevail Tiered Winery Ordinance Battle

by adminJuly 30, 2013

San Diego County prevailed on July 30th 2013 for a second time in court, over winery opponents San Diego Citizenry and their environmental law firm Coast Law. If you’re interested or a “legal beagle,” you can read the details of this 38-page Opinion at 4th Appellate District Div 1 link This long, divisive, regulatory, […]

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Update #4.0: Politics of Wine – Next Hearing June 14, 2013 – San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesMay 19, 2013

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: The next scene in San Diego County’s fledgling Wine Industry plays out in a few weeks on Friday, June 14th, 2013 in a Fourth Appellate District Division court room (Open to the Public – 9:00 AM, 750 […]

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What are Wine Tourists looking for? Findings from a Midwest Wine Tourism Study

by Dennis GrimesFebruary 17, 2013

Midwest Wine Tourism Study: Study by Dan McCole, Don Holecek and Anna Popp of  Michigan State University OK – California is NOT the Midwest but wine tourists and wine lovers are happily everywhere. Californians generally love their fruit forward and sometimes high alcohol California-style wine (Overly simplified: ripe = ripe flavors and high sugar, high-sugar […]

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How are you trending as a wine consumer? – Current Wine Sales Trends

by Dennis GrimesJanuary 21, 2013

What’s ahead for the US wine lovers and those in the business in this troubled economy? WTSD had taken a very long vacation from posting pending the outcome of the ludicrous environmental lawsuit against the San Diego County Tiered Winery Ordinance (TWO). Of course the gears of civil  justice grind slowly and the process often […]

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White Hot Mulled Wine

by Julie GrimesNovember 9, 2012

Christmas season is always associated with aromas.  If you think back to your childhood Christmases, it’s usually the smells you remember. Hot Mulled Wine is tradition in public houses every Christmas season in nearly every European town.  They offer mulled wine as a warm and delicious antidote to warm a persons chill and heart.  Traditional Mulled […]

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Temperature! Wine is a delicate, evolving product requiring the utmost care

by Dennis GrimesJune 20, 2010

Many newer wine consumers are unaware of the importance in maintaining stable, consistent temperatures in storing their prized wines. Wine blogs on the Internet are full of posts about the importance of temperature control from the wine cellar perspective. But what happens between the winery and the retail consumer? This discussion is uniquely from an […]

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Eagles Nest Winery Medals Again at 2010 New York Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

by Dennis GrimesMarch 30, 2010

The prestigious 10th annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC), was held at the Rochester Plaza Hotel & Conference Center 27-28 March 2010. FLIWC is the world’s third-largest commercial competition, and largest on the east coast. The 2010 competition featured a record number of entries 3,010 wines from over 666 International and National wineries from […]

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Eagles Nest Winery: WSJ – At Wineries Small is Beautiful

by Dennis GrimesMarch 1, 2010

Back in December of 2009 we were so disappointed to hear that Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher were no longer working for the Wall Street Journal and that their long running Tastings Column was no more. We wish them well and await their reemergence in the Wine World better, healthier, and even more successful! Below […]

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Eagles Nest Winery: Beyond the Bottle – The Story behind Fred Franzia and his now $2.49 Chuck

by Dennis GrimesFebruary 2, 2010

Love him or hate him, Fred Franzia master of “freeway aged wines” and the convicted felon (wine and grape sourcing violations) is Napa Valley’s and the Wine industry’s gadfly – and – the savior of “ultra value” wine consumers. Note/Update (January 2013): Well $2 Chuck had a good long run (some 11 years) and east […]

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Eagles Nest Winery: Enjoying Wine – Red Wine Headaches (RWH) and Sulfites — Myths

by Dennis GrimesJanuary 29, 2010

This is a difficult subject to cover definitively, there have been many articles and studies over the years on this frustrating issue with no solid outcomes, (human) wine lover physiologies are complex, wines are complex, and finally the interaction of the two is complex. If you are so afflicted and have self banished yourself to […]

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Eagles Nest Winery Shares Wine Humor: No Wine Before Its Time – 70′s Orson Wells commercial & its humorous outake – Watch both!

by Dennis GrimesJanuary 27, 2010

Paul Masson Wines – a US 1970′s carafe and jug wine icon, featured actor Orson Wells in their prolific ad campaign. His distinguished commercials served them well… the outakes didn’t… Watch a real commercial and then… The humorous “outtake” when Orson obviously had a bit too much Champagne err… Sparkling Wine… Kind of reminds you […]

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A NESTed Affair (Gourmet homemade appetizers are a hit at Eagles Nest Winery!!!)

by Julie GrimesNovember 17, 2009

Appetizers & Wine .. A Nested Affair.. Ever wanted to spend a quality evening with your spouse, but have no time to cook? Here at Eagles Nest Winery & Cottage, we enjoy entertaining our friends & family.  It’s a special way for us to say THANKs for all their hard work. We also have a […]

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Spinach-Artichoke Nest Cups at Eagles Nest Winery

by Julie GrimesNovember 16, 2009

Eagles Nest Wiery & Cottage offers a wonderful venue to honor and encourage Community Service organizations.  We donate to selected local groups as our service to the community. Once again, Lynn Murdock and I were busy making  appetizers during a fund raiser event we had for the Ramona Boys and Girls Club here in San […]

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Eagles Nest Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Ruby Port with Brie, Walnuts, Goat & Gorgonzola Cheese

by Julie GrimesNovember 16, 2009

My girlfriend Lynn Murdock and I made this wonderful appetizer during a fund raiser event we had for the Boys and Girls Club here in San Diego.  We had just finished harvesting our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and had some fruit still hanging on the vines. Lynn went out to the vineyard and picked grapes […]

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Eagles Nest Winery: Fall Wine Camping & RV visit to Paso Robles Wine Country

by Dennis GrimesNovember 12, 2009

We recently rounded up a bunch of wine loving associates and friends to visit the beautiful and relaxing Paso Robles  wine country of Central California. This started up as a Twitter wine “tweetup” event and was renamed a “Twamping” event (Twitter+ camping) – by-the-way we’re currently the #2 winery on Twitter – please follow us […]

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Ramona wines win more accolades – Twitter Makes good business sense, say Eagles Nest Owners

by adminOctober 9, 2009

By Maureen Robertson Ramona Sentinel Business News October 8, 2009 Gold Medals went to only three San Diego County wines in the Temecula Wine Society Competition 2009 and they were all from Ramona Wineries. The three golds went to two Ramona Wineries: Eagles Nest Winery and Schwaesdall Winery. Dennis and Julie Grimes’ Eagles Nest Winery […]

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Eagles Nest Winery & Cottage’s Guest Wine DVD Library

by Dennis GrimesOctober 7, 2009

In keeping with the wine theme of Eagles Nest’s Vacation Cottage we stock the DVD library with selected wine movies and educational wine videos for our GUESTS to give them the opportunity to enjoy the DVDs on the wide screen TV and foster “a wine frame of mind.” Here are some DVDs in the Eagles […]

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Wine Notes: Moving beyond keg stands – Some more wine tasting considerations

by Dennis GrimesSeptember 23, 2009

It used to be fashionable to bash wine snobs and their impossibly convoluted descriptions of wine e.g. something like “ingratiating without being obsequious” What?!!? A wonderful trend is taking place where young folks are diving onto, or at least jumping feet first into the California, Washington, Oregon and international wine scenes seeking a social and […]

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Dessert Wines and Ports… Sweets for the sweetheart

by Dennis GrimesAugust 29, 2009

Premium red and white table (still) wines have a solid place in wine lover’s hearts. They are the daily staple of our wine-loving lives. The battery acid hole and grime on the sleeve is a good touch n’est pas??? Dessert wines and Port-styled wines have their own special place for special occasions or special times […]

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Eagles Nest medalist again! – 2 Gold Medals in 2009 Temecula Wine Competition!

by Dennis GrimesJuly 30, 2009

Two San Diego County Wineries won Golds in 2009 Temecula Wine competition – Eagles Nest & Schwaesdall Eagles Nest Winery (Twitter: @eaglesnestwine, FaceBook wins two Gold medals in Temecula Wine Society Competition at July 29th 2009 Awards Dinner benefiting their Oenology Scholarship program. The dinner was hosted at Wiens Family Cellers event center. Other […]

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Lesser known: Twisted tale – wine tasting canine mascot prefers Tempranillo

by Dennis GrimesJuly 25, 2009

We enjoy visiting the lesser known winery destinations because as Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher Wine writers of  the Wall Street Journal advise… and we know… THAT is where you experience the uniqueness of smaller wineries and the passion of the winery owners and winemakers (often and hopefully one and the same). The video we’re posting […]

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Videos: Fine wine & fine arts pair at Eagles Nest Winery & Cottage

by Dennis GrimesJuly 20, 2009

Eagles Nest believes the wine lifestyle is to be shared and enjoyed with all.  Our many musically gifted friends are inspired to share their talent  on Eagles Nest’s veranda that overlooks the vineyards and the scenic west Ramona Valley. The music spans the range from classic Opera to acoustic guitar and everything in between. We […]

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The “Wine Experience” is a multi-level journey…

by Dennis GrimesJuly 13, 2009

In my humble view, there are many levels of the wonderful “wine experience” The first level is being knowledgeable of wine and purchasing, sharing, and enjoying retail wines. The next level is visiting wineries and wine regions and sampling their product, understanding their wine making philosophy, and at least at a superficial level wine making. […]

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“Staycation” Poor Economy & high gas costs encourage close vacations

by Dennis GrimesJune 11, 2009

The uncertainties of today’s economy and rising gas costs are spurring a trend towards short vacations close to home AKA “staycations”. Combine other passions with your visit – golfing, birdwatching, hiking. We all need a break from the work-a-day life and a short, close vacation is just as beneficial and relaxing as a longer one […]

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What’s in a (wine) name? Lots, actually…

by Dennis GrimesMay 27, 2009

The European Union continues to put the squeeze on U.S. Wineries exporting to Europe by limiting U.S. Winery naming options and conventions. Terms such as “Clos”, “Chateau”, “Vintage”, “Vintage Character”, “Classic”, and others, are banned. Wineries with the above terms in their winery names or wine products will have to fight for trademark recognition or […]

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Decanting Wine – Whats and whys – Vinturi’s, Respirers, Peugeot Tulipes, and Spinwine Pourers

by Dennis GrimesMay 17, 2009

We’ve all heard of decanters, most often seen in high end palatial estates or highbrow homes that feature an expansive bar with scotch or a fine brandy displayed and poured from crystal decanters – never mind the lead leaching our of the lead crystal glass (oops!). Not just for the well-to-do, wine decanters and/or their […]

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A distraction??? Why a luxury vacation cottage at a winery – aren’t wineries just about wine?!?!

by Dennis GrimesNovember 2, 2008

Shouldn’t wineries focus solely on their wine products? Isn’t it a distraction to farm wine grapes and offer lodging and entertainment venues?

In our view, Yes wineries are about fine wine – great wine is important, and – No there’s a lot more to wine than just what’s in a bottle!

We feel it’s correctly the entire (intimate) winery experience – the vineyards, the winery, the barrel room, the people, the winery equipment, the scenery, the landscaping, the fountains,…

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Please leave us (wineries & wine tourists) be! Proposed SDCo Tiered Winery Ordinance Changes

by Dennis GrimesApril 1, 2014

Challenge: Sharing a complex local government regulatory issue that impacts local rural wineries and the San Diego wine-loving public. Additional Challenge:  There’s little humor here and it is not a “happy” wine-lover/winery story… but it is a story that needs to be told. Please read below short vignettes, and if you’re concerned enough (and if […]

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Update #3.7: Politics of Wine – Next Hearing likely June/July 2012 – Ordinance stands for now – San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesJune 11, 2012

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: Legal limbo continues. The “Wheels of Justice” grind slowly – one of the oh-so-many many joys in doing business (of any kind) in litigious California. (Part of the reason the state was voted the least business-friendly state […]

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Update #3.6: Politics of Wine – Appeal Brief filed – Ordinance stands for now – San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesNovember 17, 2011

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: Legal limbo continues. Chris Polychron of Coast Law Group filed an appeal of the San Diego County Tiered Winery Zoning Ordinance of 2010 on behalf of the SD Citizenry group on June 10, 2011 with the Superior […]

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Update #3: Politics of Wine – Appeal Filed – Ordinance in limbo – San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesJune 18, 2011

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: Legal limbo again. Winery opponents appealed their April 2011  Court loss with its $16.4K in administrative prep costs awarded to the County. The appeals process is long and complicated so end date of this latest delay is […]

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Update #2: Politics of Wine – Tasting Rooms Vindicated in San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesMay 7, 2011

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: Good news at long last! The Superior Court of California issued a ruling Friday April 15th 2011 that upheld the San Diego County Tiered Winery Ordinance. Back in September 2010 “San Diego Citizenry Group” challenged the ordinance […]

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Politics of Wine – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesSeptember 18, 2010

My post in September 2010 started off saying “We had been holding off hoping to finally post good news for San Diego County wine lovers, tourism, and the community as a whole, but alas, that is not the case.” The wine grape harvest for 2010 has been delayed in much of  California, Oregon, and Washington […]

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Update #3.5: Politics of Wine – Awaiting Appeal Outcome – Ordinance stands for now – San Diego Wine Country – the Tiered Winery Ordinance of 2010

by Dennis GrimesAugust 5, 2010

The latest post on this topic – County Ordinance and Wineries win a 2nd time is here: Legal limbo continues. Winery opponents appealed their April 2011 Court loss along with a $16.4K award of administrative record preparation costs to the County. Opponents in their appeal are again asserting CEQA violations and contest the order […]

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San Diego County / Ramona Valley AVA Winery Tasting Rooms almost…

by Dennis GrimesAugust 5, 2010

Tasting rooms almost… The nascent rebirth of San Diego County winery industry was given another assist  yesterday (August 4th 2010)  as the County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the “Tiered Winery Ordinance” which enables tasting rooms by right of land ownership in A70-A72 agriculturally zoned parcels in the County. The proceedings and testimony are available at […]

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Wine Bloggers Conference 2010 in Walla Walla Washington – View from the Eagles Nest Winery

by Dennis GrimesJune 28, 2010

Bottom line up-front: Overall the conference provided an excellent insight into the the grape growing potential of the area, as well as the high quality wine offerings by the universally passionate winemakers/ winemaking staffs of the region. The just-completed WBC10 was an outstanding compilation of Washington Wineries, eastern Washington AVA vineyards, and capable and passionate […]

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