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    Shepherd's Avatar

    Napa activists challenge winery over-expansion

    Following is a link to today's extensive front-page, above-the fold PD article "Winery Limits Debated" detailed report on yesterday's Napa County Board of Sups meeting. Its lead sentence reports on "initial steps that may reign in winery development amid a contentious debate between community activists...and the county's powerful wine industry."

    "Audit last year found nearly half of wineries violating permits" headlines the continuation of the article. So much for wineries following the current weak rules, which could benefit from being strengthened and enforced. Four photos illustrate the article and issue.

    What is curious about the PD article is what is missing. There is only one brief quote from a critic of winery over-development from that 8-hour "hotly debated" issue. That person bemoaned that "this valley has become an adult Disneyland." Most of the ink was given to those defending the rampant growth of wineries. A coalition of groups called "Vision 2050" was there and testified against this growth and held signs.

    The only Sonoma County person mentioned was the president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. In addition, there were others from SoCo there, including Dee Swanhuyser. Her notes include the following: "A video of the entire meeting will be up on Napa Board of Supes website by and minutes...Some Supes commented that the commerce type has changed from growing and making wine to holding events and this is not healthy..They have approx. 460 wineries. 9% [41] of these make up 68% of production with 91% production from 426...Water use wasn’t even brought up but the Supes noted this and want stats, including ground water uses vs municipal source...My take away: Napa County is way ahead of us: with policies in place (could be better); elected officials being concerned and knowledgeable; and the citizens more organized on a county-wide basis - years and years of involvement and working together on various issues."

    In addition to yesterday's Napa meeting, the top article on the PD's Empire News section reported on the SoCo Brd of Sups OK yesterday of a Lytton Pomo "plan for homes, resort, and winery in Windsor" area. It would allow "a 200,000-case winery and a 200-room resort." That is huge. At least neighbors are quoted in that article as "voicing concerns about traffic, noise and other potential impacts." The link follows:

    This week's Sonoma West has an editorial by publisher Rollie Atkinson at the link below. It raises many good questions. It suggests that we could benefit from "new rules." And those which we do have need to be followed. Vintner Paul Hobbs is currently spraying on Watertrough Rd., apparently without informing the schools or having a permit. The Wagner family that proposes the Dairyman Winery and Distillery for Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol agreed to a $1 million settlement with Napa County for violating its rules by bottling 20 times more than it was permitted to bottle.

    On Monday there was a meeting in Lake County of activists from Sonoma, Napa, and Lake Counties to talk about how to develop a North Bay Coalition that could resist such rampant development, especially in rural areas. We are looking to add people from Mendocino, if you know anyone there who might be interested. Feel free to forward this email and add email addresses of others who might want occasional updates regarding the expansion of wineries as event centers in the North Bay.

    Also following is a link to the article on yesterday's meeting from the Napa Valley Register.

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