Wine country gears up to attract gay wedding $$$
California wine country is hoping Proposition 8 is defeated next month, not out of the kindness of their hearts, but due to the tightness of their budgets. Wine country has become a mecca for gay and Lesbian couples to get married. (Prop 8 would add an amendment to the State Constitution banning gay marriage.) So lucrative are the potential profits that counties have started aggressive ad campaigns to attract same-sex weddings.
Yesterday, Sonoma State University, in Santa Rosa, released a study forecasting that 430 to 865 new jobs would be created between 2009 and 2011 from same-sex weddings in Sonoma County, while new wages for new and existing workers will total $13.7-$27.6 million. And Sonoma County’s Tourism Bureau has this link, headlined Sonoma Wine Country for Gay Marriage and Honeymoons. According to Sonoma County Vintners, at least 13 Sonoma wineries offer their facilities for weddings, although the number seems obviously greater than that.
Over in Napa, according to the San Francisco Sentinel newspaper (which broke the Sonoma State story), Napa County officials also will likely react to the defeat of Proposition 8 and position their county to compete for same-sex wedding revenue. There’s already an online gay wedding site for Napa listing “Gay/Lesbian-friendly wedding sites” (Tra Vigne, V. Sattui). One-stop shoppers can go to Undiscovered Napa/Sonoma for gay marriage help; the site claims to have “relationships with over fifty accommodations and unique locations that include private homes, elegant inns, ranches, B and Bs, spectacular hotels or a simple wine cottage.”
In near-bankrupt California, all the major wine counties (especially in the North Coast) want their share of the lucrative gay wedding industry. A study from the UCLA School of Law predicts that 120,000 gay couples will be married in California over the next 3 years (assuming Prop 8 loses), spending an estimated $700 million annually. Regardless of their personal politics (and wine country can be a pretty conservative place), that’s hard cash for schools, firefighters, cops and roads.