ACAMPO, Calif. — A woman said she was in disbelief when she received an email from a local winery refusing to allow her to get married there because of her sexual orientation.
Nikki Levy told ABC10 she saw someone else on social media post that Viaggio Estate and Winery in Acampo does not do same-sex marriages.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted," Levy said. "To be honest, I didn't even believe that someone would send this email. I just thought there's no way."
Levy is already married, but she wanted to see if it was true, so she reached out to them.
"I was shocked, and I felt like it is my duty as an openly gay person to make sure people know that if they're going to patronize this establishment – they have to know that this establishment stands for discrimination," Levy told ABC10.
In an email to Levy, the weddings and events director at Viaggio Winery told her the owner understands that California statutory law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. It then goes on to say the owner has strong personal religious beliefs regarding marriage, which is that it should only be between heterosexual couples.
"They're on Wedding Wire, and they're on The Knot, and Yelp with great reviews about being a wedding venue," said Levy. "It's 2019. If you're a wedding venue, you're a venue for all weddings."
The owner of Viaggio Winery, Teri Lawrence, released a statement that said it welcomes all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Lawrence said she tried to explore options for celebrations that would accommodate her religious beliefs and the expectations of the community.
"I realize now that contrary to my intent, this was harmful to the people involved," said Lawrence.
Lawrence told ABC10 that her staff, customers, and community helped her see she was wrong.
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"Our policy has changed, effective immediately. All couples are welcome to hire our facilities for weddings and celebrations that go with them," said Lawrence. "I am sincerely sorry to have caused pain at a time that should be joyous."
The winery's full statement is listed below:
“Viaggio Winery welcomes all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to our winery and wedding venue, including all wedding ceremonies. It is our hope that all will feel welcomes and respected at our winery, which has been our home since 2012.
In recent communications with potential visitors, I tried to explore options for celebrations that would accommodate both my religious beliefs and the expectations of our community. I realize now that contrary to my intent, this was hurtful to the people involved.
Our staff, our customers and our community have helped me see that I was wrong. Our policy has been changed, effective immediately. All couples are welcome to hire our facilities for weddings and the celebrations that go with them.
I am sincerely sorry to have caused anyone pain at a time that should be joyous.
Since 2012, we have been trusted to host the happiest days in the lives of our guests. We are proud of that legacy, and proud to be inclusive of all in the diverse community we call home.”
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