In response to Sonoma County Winegrape Assoc. attack on concerned citizens

Shattered wine glass - Q. DombrowskiA grape-growing, winery-working friend of mine has responded to the Winegrape Commission President as follows. Feel free to use these ideas in letters and in other ways. You can quote her, but the writer must remain anonymous, since if it is from an authentic small family farmer.

“Clearly, some rural residents are frustrated with the winery events issue and have sought to bully people into opposing the local wine industry by making wild allegations or outright lying about us. This has got to stop before the community over-reacts and adopts new restrictions which could force small family-owned farms and wineries out of business.”

The bullying occurs when large wineries or beverage conglomerates or cult winemakers go anywhere they wish to develop entertainment venues and wineries that drain our resources that create more traffic, destroy habitat and environmentally sensitive areas without any concern for the voices of the people who have lived in these areas all there lives.

“The world has taken notice of Sonoma County’s leadership in sustainability yet we have had to endure disrespect and outright lies from our own neighbors as we build a sustainable future for Sonoma County. What do they want – a farm community with no concern for the local environment?”

But that’s exactly what Sonoma County has. There are a handful of responsible grapegrowers out there, but for the most part, a winery’s definition of “sustainable” means they can do whatever they want. Do you spray non-organic products? Do you use round-up? Do you over-water? Do you apply petroleum-based fertilizer? If not, then honestly, you are not sustainable.

“It seems our opposition simply does not want people to visit Sonoma County and spend their money with local businesses. It appears they want to build a wall around the region and keep people away.”

Not true. We are dead set against over development and further erosion of an agriculture that would benefit more than just winery owners. It is getting out of hand.

“Apparently, this approach does not satisfy this special interest group who has taken to attacking our industry and our sustainability program with wild allegations that are not supported by any facts. This is wrong and must stop.

The facts are out there. But to label certain “special interest groups” as kooks on the attack is always a great diversion.

Me and my fellow grape growers are following a very stringent, time-consuming and costly effort to become certified sustainable by following some of the most respected and recognized programs in the world. But, our opponents never let these facts get in the way of their selfish effort to kill small businesses.

If it was “small business”, then it might be valid because most “small” growers, winemakers are responsible. But this argument is just setting the stage for the big boys to take advantage of laws that would benefit the so-called “small businesses”. Considering the water required alone, you cannot sustainably farm the amount of acerage vineyards occupy in Sonoma County.