Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery | Jane Boursaw Photo
Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery | Jane Boursaw Photo

(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 …

Sincerely,
Grant Parsons

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I LOVE the tongue-in-cheek letter from longtime resident of the OMP, advocate for justice and protection of our precious environment, Grant Parsons. He has captured my sentiments exactly, only with style and humor that I don’t possess. I have lived out here for 42 years, running the Neahtawanta Inn. My guests love the wineries. But, they also love peace and quiet, safe country roads without excess traffic, the calm, less commercial atmosphere; all of which make the OMP unique. Thank you, Grant. Personally, I will be devastated if the wineries have their way. It will change the silence, the peacefulness and atmosphere of our beautiful home place.

  2. Anyone who truly knew my father would know he had to fight the entitled self interests of the OMP every step in the way to create a viable place to grow and sell wine here. I resent Grant Parsons invoking his name in some half thought out populist piece.

    • I spent a lot of evenings with him, long Monday evenings. I was on the Planning Commission. I always respected his pioneering spirit in growing wine grapes and developing quality wines, it was a passion of his. He educated himself and us about how special our agricultural growing area near the 45th parallel is around the world and introduced us to the term appellation. (Italy’s Piedmont region; the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France; the Willamette Valley in Oregon; and here.)

      There was never a fight about growing grapes, adding value by making wine or selling that wine on the premises. It was ancillary uses, making wine or bottling wine from trucked in juice or wine and selling it on the premises, selling non-ag products like t-shirts etc (where does that stop?), and having restaurants and activities such as large weddings and other events that were more contentious.

      • You know full well my father and you rarely saw eye to eye on winery ordinances. Debate all you want, but stop invoking his name in your propaganda pieces.

        • Sean, I was reacting to your line, …he had to fight the entitled self interests of the OMP every step in the way to create a viable place to grow and sell wine here. My contribution was just to clarify that there was no fight about growing, adding value, and selling that product at the “farm gate” at the Planning Commission.

          I am not and have never been a member of Protect the Peninsula, if that’s who you mean to be addressing regarding propaganda. There has always been a way to change the direction of the township’s governance – at the ballot box.

  3. Scare malarkey galore. This 2 am nonsense is just that. The wineries have already said over and over again they don’t want to stay open until 2 am. And what’s wrong with selling t shirts anyway. Who gives a fig what they sell in their winery.
    And this piece reminds me of the guy who married a young girl only to find out as time went on she wanted more out of life. She wanted to go out in the world and get a job and earn her own money and maybe go out with her girlfriends once in awhile. But no her stuck in the past husband wanted her to stay home and cook his dinner and dress up nicely for him and have his slippers and pipe ready when Mr Wonderful (as he called himself) came home. He didn’t accept or want her desire for personal growth and change. It was he that caused the divorce. She eventually left him and became a successful person in her own right. He became a bitter and lonely old man.

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