Sebastopol, CA 95472
November 15, 2015
Dear Mr. Wick,
I am writing to you today to express my deep concerns about the lack of regulations and the expansion of wineries and event centers in my beloved Sonoma County. I am asking that YOU, as a leader in our community listen to me and to take steps to address what I see as the devastating cascade of winery and event centers that are decimating the integrity of our community and the quality of life for the animals and people who live here.
It boggles my mind that all the residents of Sonoma County are taking drastic measures to reduce our water consumption – some with the threat of high fines for lack of compliance, yet there are no state or county regulations regarding agriculture’s water usage? WHY????? In my case and in my home, we shower with a bucket and the use the overflow water to water plants and flush toilets. We have stopped watering our lawn and have reduced our outside water usage so much that many of our plants and bushes have not survived. We do less laundry, are prudent in how we wash dishes and are conscious all the time of every drop of water we use. In basic gardening, this former city girl learned never to water in the middle of the day, yet, as I drive around this county, I see wineries blatantly watering in the heat of the day……..12 noon, 1, 2, 3pm – water pouring out. The vineyards are also sucking our rivers and streams dry threatening to extinction our fish populations.
Why is the county authorizing so many new wineries and event centers when we are in the throes of an unprecedented drought? Everyone knows that most wineries are no longer dry farmed as they were not that long ago and that today it takes 1400 – 1700 GALLONS TO IRRIGATE ONE VINE EACH SEASON. The impact of this on our water supply is astronomical.
WHY IS THEIR NO OVERSIGHT OF WINERIES AND EVENT CENTERS? Recently in my neighborhood, on Bloomfield Road, a couple purchased some land and were converting the green hillside to a vineyard. During the very hot days of summer one of the workers hit a rock on the hillside with his tractor created a spark and 11 or 12 acres burned in minutes. Had it not been for the neighbor across the street who happened to witness the worker walking away oblivious to a fire, who knows what the damage would have been. WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? ARE THERE NO REQUIREMENTS, TRAININGS RULES OR REGULATIONS FOR NEW VINTNERS?
And this brings me to another issue…….WINE PRODUCTION IS NOT AGRICULTURE! How can it be categorized as such? We don’t eat the end products; we drink them and as much as I really like wine, I have to admit, there are no nutritional benefits. With the increase of wineries and event centers, food production in our county has been reduced. Go local is becoming go further for our food supply……..
Bringing thousands of tourists onto our already crowded roads, more intoxicated drivers endangering the safety of those who live and visit here, fencing off lands and endangering the wildlife, and the increase in the use of pesticides to control pests and increase production and profit is a danger to our community on all levels.
I am not asking for an end to wineries in our county. I am asking for sensible, responsible governance; regulations coupled with accountability.
The time has come……..