(Editor’s Note: OMP resident Grant Parsons pens a love letter to the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP), noting that their love affair has been strong, but he fears they’ve strayed in recent years … -jb)
Dear WOMP (A Love Letter),
I love your vines, your beautiful architecture set against the green hills, the way you fit into rural life on Old Mission Peninsula. We’ve had something of a love affair.
But I’m beginning to feel you’ve fallen for another. Your lawsuit against Peninsula Township … Your article in Old Mission Gazette saying you want a new “pathway to business”… It seems like lipstick on your collar.
Remember how we started, how we worked to create Old Mission wineries? The farmers, the Township, the wineries, Protect the Peninsula (Ed O’Keefe, Bob Begin, Gordon Hayward, Mark Nadolski, Josh Wunsch, John Wunsch, everyone)?
Remember why you chose to open your wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula – our winery ordinance (1989 and 2001), our natural beauty, our PDR-supported agriculture (Purchase of Development Rights). Remember the old saying, “stick with the partner who brought you to the dance”?
Remember when Ed O’Keefe (the Peninsula’s winery pioneer) successfully fought in 1988 to win federal designation as an appellation – a distinct wine region? It was good for wine sales. Now you’re suing to get rid of “appellation” so you can import juice from anywhere. It’s like disowning your favorite child, isn’t it?
Remember back in 1992, when we – the Township, Protect the Peninsula and farmers – all joined together to create the nationally-recognized PDR program? We tax ourselves to raise money, buy development rights, and preserve agriculture. Now, instead of agriculture, you want to sell t-shirts and nick-nacks, hold music events until 2 a.m., and have full restaurant service until 2 a.m. Is that what I’m paying PDR taxes to promote?
WOMP, please don’t leave me. Wineries are succeeding. Your Nov. 2 article says, “Some wineries did build with these rules in mind, and others worked diligently to create a pathway to do business.” Why can’t you be faithful, like the cherry, apple and vegetable farmers?
I’ll understand if you want to leave, go downtown and buy a restaurant, open a bar, sell t-shirts to your heart’s content. But you know we can’t have that in our home on the Peninsula.
WOMP, you know what made our marriage successful: Our natural beauty, our mutual respect, our loving community. Why this sudden lawsuit, big city lawyers, threats to sue Peninsula Township Board trustees? Wedding events, bar service until 2 a.m., outdoor amplified music, more traffic, more parking, more headlights in the windows? All that is cheating on agriculture.
When we married 20+ years ago, you and I made a promise, remember? The winery ordinance was our oath to remain true to agriculture. WOMP, I love you, but …