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“Defense of the Grape Industry” by managers, not growers draws backlash.

More PR from the wine industry and few are believing it. We know that grapes were not watered prior to 1970 in Sonoma County. Huge amounts of chemicals ( are drenched on our soils and water every year. Our creeks once full of salmon are dry. Tasting rooms formerly open until 4pm, went to 5 pm and now it’s 10pm, taking the neighbor out of neighborhood.Tourism season has become “right turn only ” season as a result of wineries wanting more and more tasting rooms, kitchens and events. Our roads are in horrible condition, farm land is out of reach for small farmers to get started and we import 96% of our food in an agriculturally-rich county. Make your voices heard. Is this peak wine?

Original Press Democrat article:

Dear Editor,

Regarding Close to Home “Growers Speak Out in Defense of Grape
Industry”: The industry is under scrutiny because, like an intemperate
drinker, it won’t admit when it’s had too much.

But if the alcohol industry would control its own—acknowledge how
event-centers masquerading as wineries are an excessive indulgence and
collectively destroy the rural quality of the north bay—it wouldn’t
have to play defense on questions about exploiting or respecting the

It’s a matter of degree. When the indulgence affects too many other
people; when local governments ignore their concerns and proceed with
business as usual; when residents feel obliged to organize, protest,
write letters, etc. about traffic and the loss of rural character—then
the alcohol and tourism industry has taken a good thing too far.

Donald Williams
Calistoga, CA
Karla Noyes • 36 minutes ago Regarding groundwater restrictions, I heard that 4 of the 5 supervisors went to Sacramento to lobby the state not to do anything that would have a “negative economic impact.” LOL! The result was like pouring gasoline on a fire. The alcohol producing industry has been “irritating” neighbors for decades and now the citizens are mobilizing for political action – because that’s what it takes. Write to your supervisor, letters to the editors, speak at the 3-minute public comment times at the beginning of the supervisor’s meetings which are held Tuesdays, at 8:30 AM at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa. The next meeting is November 10th. It’s time to let the supervisors know what we really think and what we want changed.

TransitionSV • 17 hours ago
Please make no mistake. It is not just “a small group of west county residents” who are demanding that our electeds reverse the many poor land use and resource management decisions that have led us to this present conflict.

I have met many impressive people who are organizing against this tipping point that we are starting to call ‘Peak Wine’. We come from the four counties of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake. We include numerous attorneys, journalists, professors, bank executives, real estate agents, public health officials, geologists, chemists, consultants, and yes, even grape growers, campesinos, and former wine marketers.

We are your neighbors. We respect your right to make a fair living in the wine and wine tourism industries, but we are demanding that you act responsibly, and stop over-industrializing this place that we all love.


Fred Allebach • 21 hours ago
Wine Water Watch has plenty of entirely legit, pragmatic and true points. These legit points cannot be wished away by an appeal to a parallel universe of other “facts” that are somehow supposed to make WWW’s points illegitimate.

Maybe there is some hyperbole going on, from everyone involved, but grown-ups should be able to see through the bluster and arrive at a cooperative, same page place. A good start from big wine, would be to accept that there are many in the county who are tired of wine, wine, wine, tourism, tourism, tourism, and the push back we are seeing, with WWW as just one entity among many, results from gov’t inaction and complicity in not listening to what residents want, vs. what big wine wants.

Chris Poehlmann • 19 hours ago
No, it is actually a “LARGE group of county residents” that are concerned with the continued conversions of watershed lands to vineyards and the accompanying pressure to grant permits for event centers. It might be time to have a serious discussion of whether we have reached “peak wine” with its serious demands on the water and remaining natural lands in Sonoma County.

Suspicious2 • 19 hours ago
By putting out a not factual and deceptive piece to “Defend the Grape Industry”, it is apparent that the industry is not ready to come to terms with the impacts it is causing. In the 1990’s, Town Hall Coalition tried to mobilize residents throughout Sonoma County on the takeover of farmland by the alcohol business. So this is not new. What is new is the cumulative impacts from the sheer scale of putting vineyards and large wineries everywhere in addition to the change from dry farming practices and by PRMD permitting development in inappropriate locations.

Just one example of the deception, their quote of “Six percent” taken up by vineyards is supposed to alleviate concerns of vineyard/winery impacts. What they did not honestly report is that “70% of vineyards are within 300 feet of streams” (from NMFS’ maps and documents). The decimation of coho fisheries coincides with the development from the nineties on.

They can call the sky green when it is blue if they want to but is everyone knows what the truth is. They are no longer fooling most people with this wine mystique thing.

reuben weinzveg • a day ago
You have joined the defensive posture of the winery industry. The small group of West County folks is well over 1500 folks, and what you miss is that they are concerned not solely with your water use, but the fact that none of your discussions include a topic that has drawn considerable debate within Sonoma County: The development of new wineries, especially those that seek to double as event centers. The county Board of Supervisors this spring appointed 21 winery leaders, environmentalists and rural residents to a panel to give advice on the issue. The Wineries have stonewalled the efforts to curtail industrialization of vineyard lands with over the top production quotas and over the top event venues.

Shepherd Bliss • a day ago
You managers sound defensive, as in your title. You should be. This article is misleading. For example, in the first paragraph it describes the mounting criticism of wineries as event centers as “a small group of west county residents.” Individuals from throughout Sonoma County and beyond are involved in this criticism. For documentation of this, go, a four-county network, as well as to the website and Facebook of Preserve Rural Sonoma County.

The statistics in this article regarding the mono-culture of an invasive species, wine grapes, conceal more than they reveal. There are around 65,000 acres in wine grapes and about 12,500 in food crops here. 96% of the veggies and fruit bought in Sonoma County are imported from outside, according to the GoLocal publication. We are no longer a food ag county but an alcohol county. Plus that, the pay for the wine industry’s farmworkers is low, as documented in a recent PD article, and most of the profit leaves the counties to the investors in the multi-national corporations that own most of the production.

image: Niall Kennedy

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