ALERT! “Noise Ordinance”- Keswick,We’ve Got Your Back!


Keswick Vineyards is doing their best to be a good neighbor!

Come support our neighboring vineyards at the Albemarle County Office Building March 9th at 6 p.m. !

This is a reprint of Keswick’s blog that I felt should be seen by as many people as possible.


A Call to Action

I got into winemaking for many reasons, the love of farming and definitely a love of wine. I get butterflies in my stomach when I see sweeping vineyards and land being farmed to create products that not only bring joy to customers, but also provide a much-needed boost into the economy of the surrounding areas.

It is with this in mind that I request your help regarding a certain matter, that not only affects us at Keswick Vineyards, but also potentially many other wineries in the county of Albemarle in the future. We opened our doors last year for weddings to be hosted on the property knowing that many a bride would want to say their vows surrounded by beautiful vineyards, with gorgeous views of the Southwest Mountains. What better way to start a new chapter in one’s life.

Albemarle County’s noise ordinance leaves much to personal interpretation, and dependent on the surrounding residents may be used to force the wineries to cease holding these events. It is with this in mind that I urge you to read the information regarding this ordinance, and if you feel like we do, to sign the petition as either a resident or non-resident of Albemarle County [there are two specific petitions].

Petition for Albemarle county residents

Petition for non-residents

We are having a public hearing at the county office building on March 9th at 6pm and showing your support  would be greatly appreciated.


Keswick Vineyards


17 thoughts on “ALERT! “Noise Ordinance”- Keswick,We’ve Got Your Back!

  1. Thank you for your support and I hope to see lots of supporters who would like to see outdoor amplified music at a decibel level versus non-audible at farm wineries in Albemarle County at this meeting.

  2. Try living next to or near this winery, unless you have expeienced the issue, you have no ability to judge the issue. And incidently, why is it that ONLY KESWICK has been getting complaints? Perhaps because ONLY KESWICK is intentionally being too loud????

    As a matter of clarification, the NEIGHBORS dont get to make the call if the noise is too loud. Presently the ZONING department enforces the regs. How ridiculous is that since the Zoning department is closed on weekends and holidays when Keswick has its events. How is a department of the County Government that is closed supposed to enforce a noise regulation that requires someone to WITNESS the event??

    We are asking for the Albemarle County Police to enforce the ALREADY existing noise ordinance that is SUPPOSED to cover all residents of the county. The POLICE would get to make the all if the event is too loud, not the neighbor, and without any additional expensive equipment that my taxes would have to buy!

  3. I recently visited VA and toured the VA vineyards with my wife who grew up in the area. I am born and live in Napa CA and will keep my comments to myself regarding the quality of the VA wine. I am not a wine snob and there are a few nice wines we discovered in Barboursville Vineyards. I will say that Sherry and I got wind of the noise situation when we overheard a conversation regarding the “nasty neighbors” at the Keswick Vineyards. Since then I have followed this story online and have to say it is better than watching a soap show!

    I have to say that Keswick is a beautiful place and can understand why the residents are in an uproar. Many steps are made in CA to contain music. Simple solution-have the reception inside. This is the case of vineyards in Napa and the Russian River Valley where residential areas are in close proximity to vineyards. With the economy in such shambles it is very important for the tourism industry to succeed. I fully support the wine industry; however I must say that it appears that these owners have turned their backs on their own community issues. Come on folks! Work with your neighbors.

    I was a rocker in my 20s and annoyed my share of neighbors-even got to know the local cops by name when they stopped by. Now in my late 50s I can appreciate sound of silence. I have reached for the phone several times when the kids throw a party when their folks are away.

    Keswick is such a peaceful place. Is it too hard to build a structure to have some nice music/weddings there? I even read that Sissy Spacek was speaking out against the noise levels! Wouldn’t that solve the neighbor complaint issue? I am sure the community that seems to be irate would appreciate it. I would think you would want the locals behind your cause! Just a suggestion from northern CA.

  4. Donald,
    I appreciate your coment and visit to Virginia. I think what is lacking here is the details of what the Schornbergs have alreadydone to to try to reduce the noise impact on their neighbors. I will try to have more details in a post on Wednesday or Thursday in regards to the issue. This apparently is a concern in neighboring counties where B&B’s hold receptions as well.

  5. Tricia, Let me address some of the things we have done to contain the music.
    1. we have installed noise reflecting curtains on one side of the tent.
    2. We hired Reid Henion of Stage Sound to do testing and recommend a solution. He recommended very directional speakers that control the way sound waves travel.
    3. Installed grass like carpeting to absorb the sound.
    4. Planted vegetation to act as a sound and sight barrier.
    5. Purchased sound meters and calibrators to monitor and data log decibel levels at various points on the property.
    6 Designed and built acoustical cabinets made of Queitwood 640 and special sound absorbing material to house the speakers. These are new and were not used last year.
    7. Covered all hard surface areas inside the tent area with straw to absorb sound.
    8. We invited the Board of Supervisors to attend the 3rd wedding in October when we had the new directional speakers installed. Two supervisors attended and could not hear any amplified music.
    9. A county enforcement officer went to the neighbors house, stood on their porch and could hear nothing, then went to four different points 100 ft. past the property line and listened. He reported that he could not hear any music except for every now and then he could hear snippets of sound for a few seconds as if someone opened a door. He refused to write a notice of violation even though the neighbors insisted that he do.
    You have to ask yourself who the more credible witnesses are, the county or neighbors who have a history of making false complaints?
    That is exactly why a decibel number is needed that can be data logged and reviewed.
    I invite anyone and everyone to please come and listen, a visit and review will put this issue to rest. If sound is heard at all, it is just for a few seconds and then it is gone. No one of reasonable senses would find it offensive if they can find it at all.
    Also, I would like everyone know that we have tried very hard to work with our neighbors, but they refused saying it would hurt their case!

  6. Why is it that every event has to have loudly amplified music? How about just turning the volume down. Do you think no one heard music or had fun at weddings 100 years ago? Do you think because there was no amplified music that the weddings weren’t enjoyed? FOr thousands of years music was performed without amplification, and people could hear it, they could understand it, and they could enjoy it.

    Personally I am sick and tired of every bloody event I go to, it seems someone has to have the volume cranked up, and lots of bass thundering along. I can’t have a conversation, or sometimes even announcements because of it. I find I have to leave the weddings I am invited to the minute the DJ/Band cranks it up, because as far as I am concerned, the party is over. I won’t be able to say, do, or hear anything. I’m not screaming to say hello to someone. All that’s left is for people to get drunk and pretend like they can dance. It’s really disgusting, and it’s not fun, it’s not cool, and it’s not hip.

    I don’t care what Keswick or any other winery, B&B, or event space, has done to supposedly mitigate the sound. How about the novelty of just turning the volume down, or bringing in a group with NO amplifiers. Make a rule for everyone and then you won’t find yourself being ‘picked’ on.

    Oh, and by the way, I am a professional musician, who sees the light. Maybe that’s why my hearing is still absolutely perfect.

    1. No question that you have a point here. I think there are two different issues here. One is just plain loud parties. The other is establishing a sound level that is actually a legal limit and enforceable.
      As long as there are young people in this world there will be noise especially at celebrations!
      Hopefully we can all still find a middle ground that is somewhat satisfactory to all. Am I dreaming here?
      Appreciate your comment!

  7. Tricia, in response to nameless, with our directional speakers we keep it loud enough for folks to dance on the dance floor, but quiet enough for everyone in the seating area to actually have a conversation without shouting, the best of both worlds. We are finding that most, not all, couples actually think this is a great feature in that everyone can be happy. Very directional sound technology has come a long long ways in recent times. We don’t have to go back 100 years to the days of horse and buggies, people have choices now. By the way, many Acoustic Blue Grass bands are much louder and easier for the neighbors to hear then a controlled environment, and there are no regulations for that in place.

    1. Thanks for the response, I was hoping you’d notice the comment!
      Better coming directly from you, especially since you have all of the facts.
      How are the vines coming along?

  8. Mr. Irons,

    I very much appreciate your comments and the sense that they make in this discussion. Unfortunatly most of the folks posting here have no idea of the REAL impact of the noise on the neighbors, of which I am one. Unfortunatly, and despite the efforts Keswick Vineyards (KV) has made to mitigate their AMPLIFIED OUTDOOR MUSIC (which is the ONLY issue here), they have been unsuccessful in keeping the noise from their events from disturbing their neighbors, so now they want to be able to LEGALLY disturb their neighbors……… Perhaps they should have given more consideration to putting their event tent some 600 +/- feet away from the property line. Now due to the short sighted Alemarle County Board of Supervisors decision to put into place a decibel meter based regulation, KV gets to disturb their neighbors with their OUTDOOR AMPLIFIED MUSIC as many times in a year as they choose to, and with effectively NO REGULATION. I say this because there is NO LIMIT on the number of events that a winery can hold in a year, and the ZONING department is not capable of responding to issues in REAL time. One neighbor finally got a call back on his noise complaint to the Zoning department HOT LINE some 4 MONTHS after the complaint was lodged, some hot line…… And incidently, the police WILL NOT RESPOND to calls about the noise level from KV. Not sure why that is the case, no legal basis or reason for it anyone can find, but he ZONING department INSTRUCTED the POLICE department to not respond to KESWICK WINERY noise complaints. Must be some new County structure, Police controlled by the Zoning department………..

    Ticker Tack, I agree also with you. Someone at the State level suddenly decided that OUTDOOR AMPLIFIED MUSIC was a commonly accepted agricultural activity….. I would be interested in seeing the history on how that decision evolved. A “winery”, by definition, makes and sells wines and should derive its income primarily from that activity. KV has indicated that they cannot make a living on just wine production and sales. Funny, that sounds to me like a bad business plan or decision, not a reason to whine ( and yes the pun is intentional!!!) to the county to get the regs changed, AND become the epitome of a lousy, uncaring neighbor. Interestingly, KV is the ONLY WINERY IN ALBEMARLE COUNTY,and there are more than 20, that has had noise complaints. I wonder why that is????

    Tricia et al: if you and others on this blog had experienced the impact of this noise, I would place more credence in your commments. Until YOU have heard the music at bedtime that is too loud to sleep through, you have no standing in this discussion in my opinion. I would never presume to say that something disturbing you and your home is not an issue, having not experienced it, but that is what you are suggeting, and hearing the noise from the EVENT side does not count. In terms of the reported visit by the County Board of Supervisors and the Zoning official,where they reported they could not hear anything at the 3rd event of 2010; if I invited the decision makers to my event, I would make REAL sure I was in compliance. Ask the neighbors what happened after the officials left….. a different story..

    Where does this stand now? The County has passed a regulation that, by their OWN ADMISSION, they cannot effectively enforce. They indicated tht they will put staff ON CALL, a “significant financial impact” according to the Zoning Department admisitraor, and I am sure the zoning staff is really psyched about being on call on 4th of July, Memorial Day etc. They are understaffed, are closed during the vast majority of the events, and have stated that if there is a complaint, they will make sure they attend the NEXT event to ensure compliance. That is like getting put on hold when you call 911………. not much good is it?

  9. Tricia, the supervisors were out at our last wedding and heard it (or more appropriately did not) for themselves. Obviously some folks want and like to keep this ridiculous back and forth going. My final comment on this, I invite anyone and everyone to come out and experience this for themselves. Tricia, please come out and experience this for yourself, once you do, you will have a much better understanding of the situation. The county leadership has, the county staff has, numerous others have and that is why reason prevails. I commend john for using his real name.

    1. Mr Schornberg,

      Had the County not done things to your liking, I am quite sure you would be happy to keep the back and forth going, filled with complaints about how you might go out of business. Like it or not, there are others who do have opinions on the matter.

      I commented not to single you out – as you see from me mentioning other spaces – but to highlight this need for ‘loud’ as a growing and unnecessary conflict. It is especially egregious when it disrupts sleep patterns and ill health is the result. My bet is, that your neighbors, having to fight over being blasted, are now overly sensitive, making your mitigation of less value. I am not saying you haven’t done good things, I am saying why you might not be getting some of the positive feedback you would wish.

      On the Blue Grass thing. Are you saying that the band had absolutely no amplification? The singer wasn’t singing into a mic? The bass didn’t have a mic or a pick-up? A novelty indeed these days. If such is true, all it proves is how absolutely unneeded amplification is in such a venue. Yet, I absolutely do not buy that your directional speakers are any less disruptive UNLESS you have the volume turned way down. Anyone knows its louder in front of a speaker than behind it. Sure, you could have some directional mitigation if the band is only electric, including the drums, but the speakers can never be quieter than the instrument played live. Lower bass tones also travels much further. If you get in a DJ that keeps it really low, and controls the bass, you could do something very tasteful.

      Which was my point. Keeping the volume down.

      What you do when a County BOS comes out, or not, really doesn’t change anything. I doubt a single one of the BOS members lives close by. The offensiveness usually has a direct correlation to the proximity of the activity. When a sound level is given and the rules enforced, then you know you’ve gotten where you need to be.

      Oh, and the comment on the horse and buggy days is a non-sequitor that gives me a better picture of how you actually interact with your neighbors. Better yet, using it to attempt to school a professional of 35 years on the projection of sound. I would never think to tell you how to handle your wine.

      Best Regards.

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