The state killed this guy’s business because of what? People voluntarily spending their time on the vineyard while learning the craft of making wine? Clearly this is a case of worker exploitation. All those middle aged BMW convertible owners from the city being shipped in. Someone needs to stand up for wealthy wine aficionado rights! What a travesty of justice.
But lucky for us the People’s Republic of Cali sets things right again.
The volunteers, some of them learning to make wine while helping out, were illegally unpaid laborers, and Westover Winery should have been paying them and paying worker taxes, the state Department of Industrial Relations said.“I didn’t know it was illegal to use volunteers at a winery; it’s a common practice,” said winery owner Bill Smyth.
Smyth has paid some of the fines and is appealing the rest.
Meanwhile, he and his wife, Jill, are holding a going-out-of-business sale and plan to shut down before the end of the year. The fines represent more than a decade’s worth of profits for the winery, which nets about $11,000 a year, Smyth said.
“There’s just no money left; they’ve taken everything,” he said.
“We’re a small winery, open only 10 hours a week. We didn’t really need any helpers; we were just educating people about wine,” he said.