Central Saanich vineyard lounge wins support

With a loud summer and noise complaints behind them, de Vine Vineyards looks towards a future with no more weddings and a new lounge.

De Vine Vineyards Owner John Windsor pours a glass of wine

With a loud summer and noise complaints behind them, de Vine Vineyards looks towards a future with no more weddings and a new lounge.

Owner John Windsor bought the property in 2007 and the vineyard had its first small crush in the fall of 2009. Their first wines went on sale in 2010. He said since then, they have grown steadily, building a good relationship with neighbours.

This past summer, they held eight weddings and neighbours began to complain of the noise.

“We found that even though you can interview your brides and the intended grooms carefully, you can’t interview their guests,” Windsor told the PNR.

The whole issue with noise revolved around exuberant guests with the sound travelling to the quiet surrounding area. After receiving many noise complaints, Windsor decided that de Vine will no longer hold weddings.

They are, however, looking to add a lounge area to the vineyard and sought an endorsement from Central Saanich municipal council. That request was presented to council last month and elicited letters from concerned neighbours.

After meeting with the neighbours several times, walking them through de Vine’s approach, nearly all of the neighbours changed their minds.

“We’ve had a number of very good meetings with our neighbours who are actually anxious for us not to be damaged by this change. They’ve been very good,” said Windsor.

Eight weddings were already booked for next year and Windsor said his staff will meet with the parties to discuss the necessary changes. The plan is that they will not be allowed to go past 8 p.m., which means they can have the ceremony and dinner at de Vine, but not the reception.

“The real purpose up here is to grow the winery and the distillery, so to do that you are looking to create relationships with customers all the time.”

Windsor said the theory behind hosting weddings was not to make money from the event itself, but to introduce the vineyard to more people.

“We are always seeking new relationships with people and have many relationships already,” he said.

The proposed winery lounge licence will allow de Vine to use the interior and exterior (tent) to serve food with wine. The licenses would be restricted to 30 occasions a year, with various hours of operation for each. De Vine is seeking an extension for the exterior part of their proposed license, allowing the booked weddings next year to be able to continue to 8 p.m.

Windsor said the neighbours have been very good, showing their support for the current plans.

“I’ll totally acknowledge the weddings were not what they wanted and wasn’t what we wanted either as it turned out, but they’ve been very supportive.”

The license is issued by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCBL), and they invite comments from the municipality and residents.

And so, de Vine has several letters of support from neighbours, along with council’s agreement to enforce the plan.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, District council approved an endorsement of the plan. That endorsement will be a part of de Vine’s application to the LCBL. In approving the endorsement, the council had conditions of their own, including hours of operation.

A full list of details and conditions can be viewed on the Central Saanich website (centralsaanich.ca).

Mayor Ryan Windsor, John Windsor’s son, excused himself from the debate and council vote, as he is in a conflict of interest.