Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

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Robert M yers
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#251 Post by Robert M yers » August 6th, 2019, 9:08 pm

Any chance the regulators initial penalty was to restore the land to its natural state, and then Rhys asks “what can I help you with so that we don’t have to make that happen”. The regulators find two possibly more important issues and come up with a dollar amount required to fix them. Both parties might leave happy, but I assume it would not be making any friends with the neighbors.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#252 Post by crickey » August 7th, 2019, 6:58 am

Kevin had a more detailed response (undoubtedly scrubbed by PR/lawyer flacks) to a similar thread on the Vinous site. Hopefully he will come back to this thread again.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#253 Post by Kevin Harvey » August 7th, 2019, 7:23 am

Folks,
We received an inquiry from one of our Rhys mailing list members regarding this issue. While I have a variety of reasons not to want to prolong this already much-discussed matter, I do feel that you deserve to see our reply.

As I've previously said, I'm not in a position to further publicly discuss this matter and I do appreciate all that's been said on this board--however painful some of that might be! It's what makes the board so very worthwhile and why I have long participated and will continue to do so as long as I am welcome.

Here is our letter:
Thank you for inquiring about this matter. At Rhys we take environmental stewardship very seriously at all of our sites. Our vineyards are all farmed completely organically with extensive control of runoff in addition to other protective measures.
Still while developing a vineyard in 2015 we made some grave mistakes of judgment and did not complete all of the permitting required by the various state regulatory agencies. This lapse of judgment on our part and changes to the California water laws passed in 2017 exposed us to broad claims by the California Water Resources Control Board. Our vineyard at Clarke Ranch is situated on a mountaintop at 2000 ft elevation. It is 20 acres of an undeveloped 4591 acre ranch and this particular hilltop of the ranch was chosen for the vineyard site because of the exceptionally well drained rocky soils. We took the utmost care in this vineyard installation and we followed all the same rigorous environmental practices, installing extensive runoff and erosion controls, as we have in our other established vineyards. It is important to note that after their action, the state agencies had no meaningful additional environmental control requests regarding the vineyard.
While we do not believe that any reasonable person would visit the site and agree with the description of a “wetland” or “streambed” used in the state’s release, we chose to settle and pay a large fine for our actions. Given our settlement and cooperation, we were dismayed to see the aggressive and inflammatory language in the agency’s press release.
Through haste and poor judgment, we did not follow the required process for California’s permitting but we always used the highest development standards to protect the vineyard site and surrounding area.
We deeply regret our actions in this matter and are actively pursuing the environmental conservation of this vast ranch. This means that we will conserve over 4500 acres for the environment, forfeiting rights of development and timber harvesting over the 30 divisible parcels, while continuing to farm our 20 acre vineyard.

Thank you again for your inquiry and support. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
Rhys Vineyards

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#254 Post by MitchTallan » August 7th, 2019, 7:59 am

I am not a Rhys customer as expensive Caly pinot is just not my thing (over $40), but I am very impressed by Kevin's responses and this thread along with another not so long ago (about overrated wineries IIRC) must have been painful for Kevin to read.
FWIW, I had a good friend read the report. He is a geologist specializing in municipal water services and regulation. His interpretation of the report was that the regulators dropped the hammer because nothing significant had changed between the prior visit in 2015 and the second inspection three years later. With all due respect to Kevin, that is the question that I think remains; why were no permits requested once notice was clearly provided by the regulators of violations?
Oh well. Like I said, I submit that in addition to being incredibly successful in life, KH is a class act.
And an idle second question that will likely go unanswered; it is my understanding that regulatory fines are not deductible in corporate filings unless specifically made part of the negotiated settlement-as occurred in the Microsoft anti-trust case. So was that negotiated in this instance?

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#255 Post by R. Frankel » August 7th, 2019, 8:04 am

Thank you Kevin, very helpful perspective.

For those here wishing to cast stones at Rhys over this situation, I have two comments.
- Mistakes were made, punished, and settled, with a massive fine. Good luck finding a winery that has made no mistakes.
- Farming is destructive. All farming changes the environment. Most farming does so in ways that are far far worse than this example. I accept this exchange (environmental change for food). Wine grape growing is no exception. People who are outraged over this instance are suffering from a kind of selective blindness.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#256 Post by Scott Brunson » August 7th, 2019, 8:09 am

R. Frankel wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 8:04 am
Thank you Kevin, very helpful perspective.

For those here wishing to cast stones at Rhys over this situation, I have two comments.
- Mistakes were made, punished, and settled, with a massive fine. Good luck finding a winery that has made no mistakes.
- Farming is destructive. All farming changes the environment. Most farming does so in ways that are far far worse than this example. I accept this exchange (environmental change for food). Wine grape growing is no exception. People who are outraged over this instance are suffering from a kind of selective blindness.
Maybe the outraged people invest in almond producers. [snort.gif]
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#257 Post by Craig G » August 7th, 2019, 8:23 am

MitchTallan wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 7:59 am
With all due respect to Kevin, that is the question that I think remains; why were no permits requested once notice was clearly provided by the regulators of violations?
I think the answer we have is “grave mistakes of judgment.” Maybe not the detail you want, but at least ownership.

BTW Kevin, thanks for your response here.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#258 Post by Al Osterheld » August 7th, 2019, 8:56 am

Not an expert, I would think it's difficult to get permits while settlement of the notice of violations is pending.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#259 Post by Claus Jeppesen » August 7th, 2019, 10:12 am

Hmm......
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#260 Post by George Hejna » August 7th, 2019, 2:43 pm

What about the people/companies that did the actual work? There certainly was a ton of it. Are they not liable?
I read through most of this thread and didn't see much discussion around that.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#261 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 7th, 2019, 3:28 pm

Thanks for the additional clarification Kevin.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#262 Post by Dan Kravitz » August 7th, 2019, 5:12 pm

to Alex S:

You destroy your point while making it. Rural people often look askance at anybody new in the area. Doesn't matter if they're white, black, yellow, red or brown. Doesn't matter if they have three eyes, five arms or coneheads.

What do you expect? They're from Away, as we say here in Maine, therefore deeply suspect.

There are tests you can take to see if you are a racist. They're pretty damned clever. I've taken them. and against my conscious will, have racist tendencies. I seriously doubt that more than a tiny minority of Americans could pass those tests with flying colors.

Was I a mite harsh on Mr. Delmore? Possibly. I try to reread what I write before I post, go to Full Editor and Preview. I look for grammar, diction, meaning and possible unintended offense. I think we all should watch what we post. The days when impulsive words could upset a few acquaintances are gone. Even for people who are not influencers, you can offend thousands.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#263 Post by Rama Roberts » August 7th, 2019, 6:04 pm

Kevin, glad to see you weren't chased off by the pitchfork wielding mob.
George Hejna wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 2:43 pm
What about the people/companies that did the actual work? There certainly was a ton of it. Are they not liable?
I was wondering the same thing. Maybe other parties are being looked at to should some monetary damages, and that's why Kevin can't further comment despite a settlement with the water board. Seems like there has to be something yet to be settled forcing him from commenting further.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#264 Post by Phil Restine » August 7th, 2019, 6:23 pm

ATaylor wrote:
August 6th, 2019, 5:27 pm
Alan Rath wrote:
August 6th, 2019, 4:17 pm

Someone is going to have to work very hard to convince me that the egregious behavior is not with Rhys, but with the state water board.
Simply wow..........you can cheer lead for Rhys/Kevin all you want, but the report makes it crystal clear that they blatantly violated both State and Federal Clean Water laws and it does not take a genius to realize that this goes beyond a case of simply not knowing. Perhaps the wine sediment in the Horseshoe Syrah is clouding your judgement. neener

If you want to compare apples to apples in your case list (especially Kistler), I would bet at least they had all the permits in place. I am amazed that you can't see the difference between having violations occur even though you have the permits versus a case where someone thumbs their nose at the basic permitting process, and goes ahead with construction in an essentially virgin (and by definition one that will have water/runoff issues) area. Rhys is not exactly an unsophisticated operation and they have the means to hire the best in the business at everything they do. Ask any winery owner/winemaker what they would do if they were planning to develop a vineyard in an untouched area and the first thing would be to call in their environmental consultants.

• 20 acres of cleared/graded area with no apparent erosion/drainage controls
• 1480-1650 feet of fill in a stream channel in the graded area
• Nine locations where evidence of instream sediment deposits were attributable to road surface
erosion.
• At instream crossings, rock fill was placed into the active channel likely decreasing channel and
riparian functions and contributing to channel instability over time.
• Several road segments with high rates of instability as exhibited by landslides and failing cuter
banks.
• Poorly installed and/or maintained outfalls from the two existing instream ponds, with erosion and
sediment delivery in the downstream watercourse channels
• Eroded dam and stream below the larger of the two ponds
• Eroded stream channel below the pond Located at GPS9.

Like I said above, I would love to see how fast you make it to City Hall if your uphill neighbor were to start building a swimming pool with no permits and an unlicensed contractor (note: not saying Rhys used an unlicensed contractor). Nimbyism (and people begging for govt intervention) only manifests when that objectionable project is next door.....can't have it both ways.

Tinfoil hats may be in order for the next offline.
QFT. This guy is the only one making any sense in this thread.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#265 Post by Al Osterheld » August 7th, 2019, 6:26 pm

Pretty sure the regulatory agencies just consider the construction folks agents of the owner of the property. Whether Rhys pursued claims against them would be their decision, but I don't think he will be discussing here in either case.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#266 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 7th, 2019, 6:30 pm

Al Osterheld wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 6:26 pm
Pretty sure the regulatory agencies just consider the construction folks agents of the owner of the property. Whether Rhys pursued claims against them would be their decision, but I don't think he will be discussing here in either case.

-Al
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#267 Post by Dale Williams » August 7th, 2019, 6:39 pm

My limited knowledge based on village enforcement of acquaintances is that the property owner is responsible for any infractions, unless a contractor filed the permit (and since no permits apparently were filed here, not pertinent). I'm sure if property owner had a contract with a licensed contractor that said contractor would get permits they would provided to regulators. CA law may vary.
I'm a fan of Rhys wines, ok to continue buying (small limited amount, on secondary market) as they paid fine and I'm sure won't repeat, but the drive of some to try to pretend this wasn't a big deal or wasn't Rhys's fault is astounding.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#268 Post by John Gilman » August 8th, 2019, 6:32 am

Hi Folks,

I read the reports and articles about the violations onsite at Rhys' new vineyard in Mendocino, and I think it is very important to remember that we have only seen one side of the coin in this case, as the settlement no doubt limits what Kevin and the team at Rhys can publicly say on the matter. Like many others on this board, I was very surprised and initially dismayed by what I read in the articles. Wanting to know a bit more and hopefully find out a bit about the other side of the issue, I did some research and now feel unequivocally that one day the entire story will come out about this vineyard development project and its violations and Rhys will appear in a dramatically different light. The biggest offenders here are the ones who wrote the articles on the matter and did not bother to find out both sides of the issue, but just spit out what they were spoonfed by the regulators, instead of exercising a bit of journalistic effort in trying to get a more balanced view of the issues at hand. As Kevin's second post points out, it is pretty hard to find "wetlands" at an elevation of 2000 feet on a property that tops out at 2100 feet above sea level. I have not yet visited the property, but hope to on my next visit to Rhys, as I am now extremely curious to see what, if any, correlations there are between what is written in the report and the true lay of the land there. The good news is that the state now has $1.77 M more to assist salmon spawning (let's hope they spend it wisely) and we will have a really good new single vineyard bottling somewhere down the road from Rhys. The bad news is that so many who should be educated enough to know better jumped to conclusions without trying to see a bit more of the other side of the story. The articles in question are so blatantly one-sided that a red flag should have gone up for everyone... BTW, had to open a 2013 Bearwallow pinot last evening and it is starting to really drink nicely...

All the Best,

John

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#269 Post by Robert M yers » August 8th, 2019, 7:06 am

That may be true, but the whole thing just screams of arrogance to me. Maybe the environmental impact is truly minimal and ultimately a drop in the bucket. To defend the wrongdoing by saying the highest standards were used to protect the vineyard site and surrounding areas doesn’t cut it though. There are people trained to make these determinations and a process to prove that’s true. This whole process was subverted for some reason, and it seems pretty arrogant to blatantly disregard the whole permit issue. If they had started the process and made mistakes that’s way more understandable, but they essentially said to hell with the process and everyone else who has gone through it before. They know How to build a vineyard legally in CA, but chose to ignore the whole process it seems, Why? Is there another side to that story you can share?

That said, the fine was huge and if the state (and winery) is happy and now can do more essential environmental improvements with the funds then so be it, I’m not holding a grudge till the end of time. I just don’t like big business ignoring laws because they are big enough that they can.
Last edited by Robert M yers on August 8th, 2019, 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#270 Post by John Gilman » August 8th, 2019, 7:12 am

Hi Robert,

On the face, your reading of the situation is certainly plausible. When all the facts come out, you will see that the first clause of your next to last sentence is closer to the truth, and there was nothing willfully done to ignore or circumvent anything. Maybe some day I will write a book about the whole thing- the full story would make fascinating reading. I should note that I am naturally predisposed to good governmental regulation, as I see a serious need for proper regulation in a functioning democracy (my degrees are in political science and history); however, in my opinion, this is not the case we have here...

All the Best,

John

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#271 Post by George Hejna » August 8th, 2019, 7:20 am

John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:12 am
Hi Robert,

On the face, your reading of the situation is certainly plausible. When all the facts come out, you will see that the first clause of your next to last sentence is closer to the truth, and there was nothing willfully done to ignore or circumvent anything. Maybe some day I will write a book about the whole thing- the full story would make fascinating reading. I should note that I am naturally predisposed to good governmental regulation, as I see a serious need for proper regulation in a functioning democracy (my degrees are in political science and history); however, in my opinion, this is not the case we have here...

All the Best,

John
If nothing was willfully done to or ignore or circumvent anything. Why did they not get ANY permits or have any meetings with the required agencies to discuss the plan?

George

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#272 Post by David_K » August 8th, 2019, 7:23 am

John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:12 am
Hi Robert,

On the face, your reading of the situation is certainly plausible. When all the facts come out, you will see that the first clause of your next to last sentence is closer to the truth, and there was nothing willfully done to ignore or circumvent anything. Maybe some day I will write a book about the whole thing- the full story would make fascinating reading. I should note that I am naturally predisposed to good governmental regulation, as I see a serious need for proper regulation in a functioning democracy (my degrees are in political science and history); however, in my opinion, this is not the case we have here...

All the Best,

John
John, with all due respect, if you're in possession of secret information that exonerates Rhys, why not just say what it is?
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#273 Post by JulianD » August 8th, 2019, 7:53 am

John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:32 am
now feel unequivocally that one day the entire story will come out about this vineyard development project and its violations and Rhys will appear in a dramatically different light. it is pretty hard to find "wetlands" at an elevation of 2000 feet on a property that tops out at 2100 feet above sea level.
John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:32 am
I have not yet visited the property, but hope to on my next visit to Rhys, as I am now extremely curious to see what, if any, correlations there are between what is written in the report and the true lay of the land there.
???
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#274 Post by ybarselah » August 8th, 2019, 7:55 am

David_K wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:23 am
John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:12 am
Hi Robert,

On the face, your reading of the situation is certainly plausible. When all the facts come out, you will see that the first clause of your next to last sentence is closer to the truth, and there was nothing willfully done to ignore or circumvent anything. Maybe some day I will write a book about the whole thing- the full story would make fascinating reading. I should note that I am naturally predisposed to good governmental regulation, as I see a serious need for proper regulation in a functioning democracy (my degrees are in political science and history); however, in my opinion, this is not the case we have here...

All the Best,

John
John, with all due respect, if you're in possession of secret information that exonerates Rhys, why not just say what it is?
there may have been some chemtrail spraying over these vineyards? has that been confirmed/denied??
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#275 Post by Al Osterheld » August 8th, 2019, 8:23 am

There may be bodies buried under the reservoir.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#276 Post by Thomas K. » August 8th, 2019, 9:41 am

The Water Boarders detailed many infractions. Kevin admitted wrongdoing, apologized and paid a hefty fine. Further, he (and Rhys) is committing to conservation and environmental principles going forward (as he has in the past, and his winery is a poster child for good management).

Why the need for this discussion board to re-try the case? Legal disputes are always hard, and usually depressing. Settlements represent a desire to finish and move on. We should all do so.

In full disclosure, I am on the list, have been for a long time. Other than expecting to remain on the list, I have no ties to Rhys (but wish I did champagne.gif).

Thank you to Kevin for always listening to your customers, drinkers and detractors. It is a tremendous benefit for us hear that we get direct access to wine makers, owners and others ITB.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#277 Post by Mel Hill » August 8th, 2019, 9:58 am

Al Osterheld wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 8:23 am
There may be bodies buried under the reservoir.

-Al
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#278 Post by Al Osterheld » August 8th, 2019, 10:13 am

Mel Hill wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 9:58 am
Al Osterheld wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 8:23 am
There may be bodies buried under the reservoir.

-Al
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Has anyone seen Brinkman lately?

I think the point was that secret or implied information has the same value as invisible money.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#279 Post by Mark Christenson » August 8th, 2019, 10:26 am

Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 5:12 pm

There are tests you can take to see if you are a racist. They're pretty damned clever. [...] I seriously doubt that more than a tiny minority of Americans could pass those tests with flying colors.
Those tests are fascinating, and for people willing to submit to taking one (or more) and acknowledging the veracity of the results and thinking about how to change their thinking, they can be a positive tool for good. My favorite example is of a woman with whom I work who is almost 70. She took the implicit bias test regarding the aged, and found that she has a significant bias against "old" people. She admitted that it was true although she had never explicitly thought about it, and it has changed her thinking and how she engages with people closer to her age.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#280 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » August 8th, 2019, 11:41 am

Mark Christenson wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 10:26 am
Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 5:12 pm

There are tests you can take to see if you are a racist. They're pretty damned clever. [...] I seriously doubt that more than a tiny minority of Americans could pass those tests with flying colors.
Those tests are fascinating, and for people willing to submit to taking one (or more) and acknowledging the veracity of the results and thinking about how to change their thinking, they can be a positive tool for good. My favorite example is of a woman with whom I work who is almost 70. She took the implicit bias test regarding the aged, and found that she has a significant bias against "old" people. She admitted that it was true although she had never explicitly thought about it, and it has changed her thinking and how she engages with people closer to her age.
Are any of these online?
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#281 Post by Jeff_M. » August 8th, 2019, 11:50 am

Thomas K. wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 9:41 am

Why the need for this discussion board to re-try the case? Legal disputes are always hard, and usually depressing. Settlements represent a desire to finish and move on. We should all do so.
Some folks just need to have their flamethrower aimed at someone.

I'm sure over time more information will be published about this situation.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#282 Post by K John Joseph » August 8th, 2019, 11:59 am

Al Osterheld wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 6:26 pm
Pretty sure the regulatory agencies just consider the construction folks agents of the owner of the property. Whether Rhys pursued claims against them would be their decision, but I don't think he will be discussing here in either case.

-Al
No doubt, though if Rhys filed a suit, it would be public information so we should see accusations and the like if that occurs. If they made an out of court indemnification, that'll likely remain very private.

I did a bunch of work on my house last year and had to have everything permitted. I can tell you how many permits I personally obtained: none. But my contractors all obtained the necessary permits and the city came and posted permit notices at my property and then inspected and approved everything at the conclusion of the work. If a contractor assured me everything was on the up and up and then I got dinged, I'd be pissed. Then again, having done it once and knowing the process, it should be hard to dupe me the next go around...surely someone at Rhys was responsible for ensuring all appropriate permits were obtained and had experience vetting the vineyard construction process? Of course, as Rhys acknowledges, mistakes were made.

With only half a deck of facts it's tough to really point fingers, but I think most would have to acknowledge that at the end of the day, the pilot is responsible for the plane, Rhys made big mistakes and are paying for it. With fines for similar issues way lower, and Rhys being savvy and well funded, it's hard to imagine them succumbing to a massive outlier of a fine--by settlement agreement--without a relatively good reason to do so.

edited to add the following: I'll still buy their wine. It's good.
Last edited by K John Joseph on August 8th, 2019, 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#283 Post by Matthew King » August 8th, 2019, 12:30 pm

JulianD wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:53 am
John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:32 am
now feel unequivocally that one day the entire story will come out about this vineyard development project and its violations and Rhys will appear in a dramatically different light. it is pretty hard to find "wetlands" at an elevation of 2000 feet on a property that tops out at 2100 feet above sea level.
John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:32 am
I have not yet visited the property, but hope to on my next visit to Rhys, as I am now extremely curious to see what, if any, correlations there are between what is written in the report and the true lay of the land there.
???
'I have not seen the property or anything involving the actual lawsuit but can definitively state that the government was wrong'

+1.

John is a fine writer. But he’s forgotten an important axiom in this case: Show, don’t tell.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#284 Post by AlexS » August 8th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 5:12 pm
to Alex S:

You destroy your point while making it. Rural people often look askance at anybody new in the area. Doesn't matter if they're white, black, yellow, red or brown. Doesn't matter if they have three eyes, five arms or coneheads.

What do you expect? They're from Away, as we say here in Maine, therefore deeply suspect.

There are tests you can take to see if you are a racist. They're pretty damned clever. I've taken them. and against my conscious will, have racist tendencies. I seriously doubt that more than a tiny minority of Americans could pass those tests with flying colors.

Was I a mite harsh on Mr. Delmore? Possibly. I try to reread what I write before I post, go to Full Editor and Preview. I look for grammar, diction, meaning and possible unintended offense. I think we all should watch what we post. The days when impulsive words could upset a few acquaintances are gone. Even for people who are not influencers, you can offend thousands.

Dan Kravitz
And what point was I making that's so disagreeable -- that locals view outsiders suspiciously? That locals may view outsiders of differing ethnicity even more suspiciously?

Regardless, at least I've explained why Darren's post didn't strike me as racism - a "that's racist!" response would go a lot further with me if people would take time to explain why "Rhys was unmarked and had Latino guys in Ford Explorers living there when I was there, within view of the grungy, loc’d out Navarro Store" is apparently racism personified, to such an extent you and others had suggested banning Darren for this sentence.

As for offending "thousands" & "impulsive words" there's nothing I can say about that without getting overtly political.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#285 Post by AlexS » August 8th, 2019, 12:38 pm

George Hejna wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:20 am
John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:12 am
Hi Robert,

On the face, your reading of the situation is certainly plausible. When all the facts come out, you will see that the first clause of your next to last sentence is closer to the truth, and there was nothing willfully done to ignore or circumvent anything. Maybe some day I will write a book about the whole thing- the full story would make fascinating reading. I should note that I am naturally predisposed to good governmental regulation, as I see a serious need for proper regulation in a functioning democracy (my degrees are in political science and history); however, in my opinion, this is not the case we have here...

All the Best,

John
If nothing was willfully done to or ignore or circumvent anything. Why did they not get ANY permits or have any meetings with the required agencies to discuss the plan?

George
A possible explanation is Rhys had simply expected their contractors/engineers to have taken care of all this for them per formal agreements/contracts they entered into. Which isn't to suggest Rhys shouldn't have been on top of the situation, only that for whatever reason there may have been a great deal of "hands-off" faith (contract or otherwise) everything had been taken care of.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#286 Post by ATaylor » August 8th, 2019, 12:54 pm

John,

With both respect to you and Kevin, (along with disclosure that I am a modest Rhys customer since 2012/2013 and have the benefit of attending pickups……….)
I think that several recent posts have picked up on the point: unless you have definitive information that you can put up to the Board, you are simply making the same conjecture as those you are attempting to paint, or worse yet repeating the spin that has been "spoonfed" to you by some third party with a vested interest. Rhys is going to spin it their way because they have wine to sell, newspaper journalists are going to spin it because they are selling to a readership. So say you get a special tour of the vineyard in the future: you don’t realize that you are going to get a one-sided story as well? As with many things in life, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Attempting to broadly state anybody who has posted anything other than a pro-Rhys comment as not being informed is a bit of a stretch, borderline insult. Please fill us in on what research you have done, even though you fully admit to not visiting the property. My read of the thread is that many people are openly asking the question of how/why (and yes everyone understands Kevin can’t fully answer those) and wanting to understand. I only skimmed the newspaper articles and, as with any material written by a journalist, take it with a very strong dose of salt. My focus was more on the staff report and the accompanying photos (what is the old saw about photos don’t lie?) and, moreover that the required permits were not applied for. The tone deaf don’t seem to pick up on this simple point. Like just about every kind of construction, there is a permit process involved. You either applied for the permits or you didn’t. Fairly black and white. Yes perhaps the contractor should have and didn't but again it does not get away from who ultimately bears the responsibility.......who knows where any insurance claim and/or litigation goes and the discovery process may be a pandora's box that nobody wants opened.

Hard to find wetlands at 2,000 feet? You should talk to a water scientist. Wetlands have a fairly broad description, and even exist in the Himalayas. The ground does not have to be permanently wet in order to meet the classification as wetlands.

An acquaintance has a doctorate in both environmental and water sciences, has no dog in the fight and likes wine. As a wine lover, he had already read all the material before I asked him if he knew about the case. He said that yes enforcement actions are being ramped up, but he came away scratching his head over the same basic point: how could they have gone ahead with the work listed in the staff report without applying for permits? Heck they even used the same contractor who already screwed up on another project. He also reads plenty of staff reports from various agencies and finds generally they are pretty darn factual as they combine their scientific training with the regs/laws that are in place. Staff write up the facts and then it is the more political types further up the line who decide the action to take or how large to make the fine.

You are not doing your credibility any favors here unless you can put up something to document your unequivocal “feelings”.

PS Kevin as others have said thanks for replying and looking forward to the Hillsides release.
Last edited by ATaylor on August 8th, 2019, 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#287 Post by John Gilman » August 8th, 2019, 2:38 pm

Hi Folks,

I would anticipate that the information will come out in due course and then everyone can decide for themselves- I am not free to divulge it at the present time. But, the two articles that I read that reported on this issue were both quite one-sided and it is my understanding that both authors declined invitations to visit the property in question and assess the violations firsthand. I intend to do that when I have an opportunity. All I can say is that there is plenty more behind the story than what made it into print and it will make interesting reading one day. I am simply confident that the whole thing will look quite different by the light of day. No one has to believe my assessment of the situation, but a careful reading of the articles will certainly lead one to the conclusion that they are not particularly even-handed. Beyond that, those of you in northern California would probably be welcome to take the place of the declining journalists and visit the site for yourself.

All the Best,

John

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#288 Post by ATaylor » August 8th, 2019, 2:46 pm

John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 2:38 pm
Hi Folks,

I would anticipate that the information will come out in due course and then everyone can decide for themselves- I am not free to divulge it at the present time. But, the two articles that I read that reported on this issue were both quite one-sided and it is my understanding that both authors declined invitations to visit the property in question and assess the violations firsthand. I intend to do that when I have an opportunity. All I can say is that there is plenty more behind the story than what made it into print and it will make interesting reading one day. I am simply confident that the whole thing will look quite different by the light of day. No one has to believe my assessment of the situation, but a careful reading of the articles will certainly lead one to the conclusion that they are not particularly even-handed. Beyond that, those of you in northern California would probably be welcome to take the place of the declining journalists and visit the site for yourself.

All the Best,

John
Then again don't come here with blanket statements that you can't or are not willing to substantiate. The obfuscation in this thread is just mind blowing. You are hanging your hat exclusively on two newspaper articles (there are now several others) and conveniently ignoring the staff report.........and John for the sake of full transparency to those members of the Board who might not otherwise know, perhaps you should have put an upfront disclosure about how you make your living and that you review Rhys wines.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#289 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 8th, 2019, 3:11 pm

Jesus WHAT A THREAD!

As I read through the thing, I thought I'd get to the end and then tell you all where you went wrong but . . . .OMG! I've got a life! I'll restrict my response to a couple of minor points

1. The regulatory definition of wetlands has little to do with the marshes the term conjures. Put that out of your minds. I know nothing about the site -- hell, it took me 5 pages before I figured out what a POC was -- but applying "common sense" here can get you in trouble. That does NOT mean that something that doesn't look like a wetland shouldn't be protected as such. Because science.

2. Kevin -- if you are still reading -- I have no experience with this agency but I can tell you it is common practice when negotiating a settlement with an enforcement agency to negotiate the text of (or at least the tone of) the press release(s). In some instances, the parties will do one jointly but for the very reason you cite, at least a discussion about the content should be on the agenda. For next time, although I am sure there won't be one. Have a chat with your lawyer about this one.

3. Alan, I sit on the opposite of the table from government regulatory workers all the time. They make my client's lives miserable routinely. But most of them are well-intentioned, public spirited people who view their jobs as a mission. Key point: their mission is not to make things easy (or hard, necessarily) for the person on the other side of the table; it's to ensure that the law is complied with. Your frustration about getting a "no" when you want a "yes" is palpable, but those of us members of the public who are strangers to your transaction or business should be happy to hear they aren't easy to roll.

4. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) says absolutely nothing -- zero, zilch, nada -- about the biases or proclivities of any individual taking the test. I know the very smart folks who originated the test, have deposed one of them, and they would be the first to tell you (a) that their goal was to aggregate enough data to make some very broad causal conclusions about humankind as a whole; and (b) that it is ridiculous to draw any conclusions about Sally or Sam based on the results. It does not and was not intended to reveal or predict individual character or beliefs. Some of us have serious doubts about its utility even in the aggregate.

It's a fun exercise. You can take it here:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/u ... ndexrk.htm
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Nawh...

#290 Post by TomHill » August 8th, 2019, 3:30 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 3:11 pm
Jesus WHAT A THREAD!
Nawh, Neal....nobody has played the Nazi card yet. Then the thread will be taken to the highest level!!! [snort.gif]

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#291 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 8th, 2019, 4:13 pm

John does not seem to have read the actual report.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#292 Post by Alan Rath » August 8th, 2019, 5:33 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 3:11 pm
1. The regulatory definition of wetlands has little to do with the marshes the term conjures. Put that out of your minds. I know nothing about the site -- hell, it took me 5 pages before I figured out what a POC was -- but applying "common sense" here can get you in trouble. That does NOT mean that something that doesn't look like a wetland shouldn't be protected as such. Because science.
Or that agencies don't have power to define very broadly what is and isn't a wetland, or if you are violating their interpretation of the rules. Their interpretation might be very different for a wealthy out of town owner without other connections to the area than for a small local owner - or pot farmer.
2. Kevin -- if you are still reading -- I have no experience with this agency but I can tell you it is common practice when negotiating a settlement with an enforcement agency to negotiate the text of (or at least the tone of) the press release(s). In some instances, the parties will do one jointly but for the very reason you cite, at least a discussion about the content should be on the agenda. For next time, although I am sure there won't be one. Have a chat with your lawyer about this one.
I too was a little surprised that there wasn't a more conciliatory tone in the announcement, particularly given the amount of the settlement. Or, that as part of the agreement, all necessary permits are granted. But my (admittedly cynical) interpretation is that the settlement amount is the indicator that Rhys had little leverage, and was pretty much forced to accept the terms. Maybe "easy to roll" would be a good description...
3. Alan, I sit on the opposite of the table from government regulatory workers all the time. They make my client's lives miserable routinely. But most of them are well-intentioned, public spirited people who view their jobs as a mission. Key point: their mission is not to make things easy (or hard, necessarily) for the person on the other side of the table; it's to ensure that the law is complied with. Your frustration about getting a "no" when you want a "yes" is palpable, but those of us members of the public who are strangers to your transaction or business should be happy to hear they aren't easy to roll.
Here we agree. I certainly don't want regulators and inspectors being pushed around by strip mines, oil companies, water and sewage treatment facilities, big pharma, etc. In my case, many of my dealings have been related to extending the limits of rules on scientific equipment used in research. Such as magnetic field strength of an MRI (not for clinical hospital use, but for academic research). There is no law, it's just a number set by some regulators. And they're going to change that number as technology advances. Which they did. Eventually. Every time. No matter that a few of those times it cost a university lab a grant, or a researcher his tenure, or resulted in company layoffs because delivery targets weren't met. Or that one agency (e.g., FDA) set rules that prevented another agency (say, NIH) from actually using equipment it had paid millions of dollars for. They were good people, just doing their jobs.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#293 Post by David_K » August 8th, 2019, 6:01 pm

John Gilman wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 2:38 pm
Hi Folks,

I would anticipate that the information will come out in due course and then everyone can decide for themselves- I am not free to divulge it at the present time. But, the two articles that I read that reported on this issue were both quite one-sided and it is my understanding that both authors declined invitations to visit the property in question and assess the violations firsthand. I intend to do that when I have an opportunity. All I can say is that there is plenty more behind the story than what made it into print and it will make interesting reading one day. I am simply confident that the whole thing will look quite different by the light of day. No one has to believe my assessment of the situation, but a careful reading of the articles will certainly lead one to the conclusion that they are not particularly even-handed. Beyond that, those of you in northern California would probably be welcome to take the place of the declining journalists and visit the site for yourself.

All the Best,

John
John, for someone in your shoes to come forward with what is either wild-eyed speculation, or, worse, water-carrying for Kevin, is really irresponsible. By all means, if you have something to say, say it; and if you don't, then, well, don't. But this is not a good look.
Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 3:11 pm
Jesus WHAT A THREAD!
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#294 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 8th, 2019, 6:08 pm

Alan cannot resist more baseless, empty digs. What did the regulators do to Steph Curry to make you so angry?
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#295 Post by David_K » August 8th, 2019, 6:13 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 5:33 pm
But my (admittedly cynical) interpretation is that the settlement amount is the indicator that Rhys had little leverage, and was pretty much forced to accept the terms. Maybe "easy to roll" would be a good description...
If it's true that Rhys had little leverage, that *supports* the view that their conduct really was bad, not the other way around, you know...
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#296 Post by Wes Barton » August 8th, 2019, 6:41 pm

David_K wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:13 pm
Alan Rath wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 5:33 pm
But my (admittedly cynical) interpretation is that the settlement amount is the indicator that Rhys had little leverage, and was pretty much forced to accept the terms. Maybe "easy to roll" would be a good description...
If it's true that Rhys had little leverage, that *supports* the view that their conduct really was bad, not the other way around, you know...
And, if Rhys was, say, owned by a billionaire who does care about environmental impact, was truly conciliatory about what happened, and wanted to do his best to more than make up for it, the settlement could be seemingly generous.
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#297 Post by Kim Z » August 8th, 2019, 6:52 pm

Those of us in California understand this is an off the charts hyper-regulated, environmentally excessive, business unfriendly state.

They paid their shake-down and made peace, and would like to move on and continue to do business. After 6 pages of arm-chair quarterbacking, don't you guys have your own businesses to mind?
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#298 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » August 8th, 2019, 6:58 pm

Kim Z wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 6:52 pm
Those of us in California understand this is an off the charts hyper-regulated, environmentally excessive, business unfriendly state.

They paid their shake-down and made peace, and would like to move on and continue to do business. After 6 pages of arm-chair quarterbacking, don't you guys have your own businesses to mind?
This.

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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#299 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 8th, 2019, 7:03 pm

And we have a new contender for Alan’s anti-compliance crown!
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Re: Rhys fined $3.76M for illegally diverting water in Anderson Valley

#300 Post by Russ Williams » August 8th, 2019, 7:15 pm

Give it a rest fellows.
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