Yamhill brewery, neighbors at odds over agritourism

Civic Affairs

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A Newberg brewery once again pleaded its case to continue holding agritourism events in an ongoing battle with what they say is a “small group of vocal neighbors.”

 The Wolves & People Brewery, which opened in 2016, has a permit to hold agritourism events and a food cart 18 times a year. It also has a permit allowing daily beer tastings.

The Wolves & People Brewery in Newberg, May 14, 2019 (KOIN)

The Newberg Graphic reported in November 2018 the brewery had faced contention from neighbors in the past over its agritourism events. In February of 2017, for example, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners faced a challenge when neighbor David Wall filed an appeal of the brew pub’s application to host events. 

Tuesday afternoon, brewery officials appeared at the Land Use Board of Appeals in Salem to try and fend off the latest challenge from the opposing neighbors led by the Friends of Yamhill County.

The hearing lasted about 30 minutes and people on both sides of the issue were passionate and fought for what they believe is right.

Some neighbors argue the tasting room has turned into a tavern and said there’s too much traffic and it’s too loud.

Joyce Dammon is opposed to the permitted events at Wolves & People Brewery in Newberg, May 14, 2019 (KOIN)

“As far as I’m concerned it does not belong in our neighborhood,” said Joyce Dammon. “A bar does not belong in our neighborhood.”

Christian DeBenedetti, who owns Wolves & People, said what they’re doing is unique in Oregon.

“(It) is bringing people to a working farm to see not only where things are growing that are important for the community to eat, but that we can brew with, too, grains and hops,” he said.

Friends of Yamhill County, the land advocacy group, argued Tuesday that Yamhill County should not have issued the event permit, claiming it’s not necessary for growing hazelnuts.

Brewery officials said on their website they have previously earned the unanimous support of the city and county officials.

The Land Use board is expected to make a decision by June 18.

                                                     Agritourism in Oregon
Basically, agritourism is any activity that generates supplemental income for working farms and ranches by connecting their agricultural resources and products with visitors. It includes on-farm and off-farm activities. To borrow from California’s language, agritourism “promotes farm products and generates additional farm income, in the process of providing visitors with entertainment, recreation, hands-on participation and education.”

KOIN 6 News will be there and will have more information later in the day.

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