Fauquier County wineries can continue serving as much alcohol as they want, at least until a Circuit Court judge rules on limits proposed by local zoning officials.
That is the result of an agreement reached this week between the county and attorneys for the 22-year-old family-owned Oasis Winery in Hume.
Oasis, which has been embroiled in a two-year battle with neighbors who complain that its events are too loud, trumpeted the agreement as a victory and a result of winning arguments made by its attorneys.
County Attorney Paul S. McCulla said the decision was more an act of mercy.
"The position of the Board of Zoning Appeals is that they believe their decision is correct," he said. "However, they understand that we are dealing with a business and a person's livelihood, so we have agreed to stay the implementation of the decision of the zoning administrator."
That decision to limit customers of county wineries to no more than two ounces of four wines a day was imposed by the county zoning administrator and upheld last month by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Other restrictions upheld by the board limit the number of events and the size of the crowds at those events. Those restrictions will remain in effect until a judge rules, McCulla said.
Ann Runyon, a spokeswoman for the winery, said that the limits set by Fauquier officials have damaged business and are at issue in a lawsuit against the county. No court date has been set.
"We have lost in the millions of dollars due to the conditions that have been put down," Runyon said. "This is severely threatening the viability of the winery. Even more importantly, they are putting down some very precedent-setting opinions."
The alcohol limit, Oasis contends, is an illegal interference with a function reserved to the state. McCulla said the county's agricultural advisory committee was looking at the limits and their potential effects on other local wineries, which draw tens of thousands of visitors into Fauquier each year.