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Small-scale alcohol manufacturers will have an easier time setting up shop in James City County thanks to a set of revisions to the county code approved Tuesday by the county’s board of supervisors.
The board voted 4-0 to allow small-scale alcohol production in several commercial and industrial areas of the county. Breweries that produce up to 15,000 barrels per year were already allowed, however wineries and distilleries were excluded until now.
They also voted 4-0 Tuesday to incorporate recent changes in state law to the county code that allow craft breweries and distilleries in farming areas. Wineries were already permitted.
The move comes after several parties interested in starting such businesses approached the county over the last year. It amends the zoning ordinance to allow small-scale alcohol manufacturers to operate in general business and limited business-industrial zones.
Under the new regulations, microdistilleries in the two zoning districts may produce no more than 36,000 gallons of alcohol per year, while microwineries can make no more than 15,000 barrels per year. The small-scale alcohol producers may also include tap rooms, brew pubs and retail sales of their products.
The board did not discuss the change prior to its vote. Supervisor Jim Kennedy (Stonehouse) was absent from the meeting, so he did not vote. The county’s planning commission voted unanimously in May to recommend the board approve the change.
York County made a similar move last year to open more areas of that county to small-scale alcohol production.
Craft beer is defined by the Brewers Association as small, independent and traditional brewing operations that produce less than 6 million barrels of beer per year. The American Distilling Institute defines craft spirits as having come from independently-owned distilleries with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases. The product must be distilled and bottled on site.
Over the past few years, several craft alcohol producers have opened for business or are in the process of opening in the Historic Triangle.
Williamsburg Distillery is slated to open this summer along Merrimac Trail in James City County. The Silver Hand Meadery plans to open in the City of Williamsburg near the Monticello Shopping Center. Copper Fox Distillery has acquired the former Lord Paget Motel and plans to open there. Also, the Virginia Beer Company will soon open on Second Street in York County.
AleWerks Brewing Company has been in business in Upper York County since 2006.