More on wine country environmental issues

Reading about the Amazon fires and then came across a piece on NPR earlier today, a little bit closer to home:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/11/18/774859696/wine-moguls-destroy-land-and-pay-small-fines-as-cost-of-business-say-activists

But it’s not a new issue:
https://www.kcet.org/shows/earth-focus/heres-how-big-wine-gets-to-avoid-environmental-rules-in-napa

Seems like that author has been bringing up the same issue for a while.

Not on the same scale as the Amazon obviously, but people are calling for boycotts of Brazilian products. I wonder if the same thing will happen to Napa/Sonoma.

Wow, just call this “vineyard tax.”

“In another case, multiple agencies issued a $3.7 million fine against Silicon Valley entrepreneur and vintner Kevin Harvey after those agencies concluded that he illegally destroyed a Mendocino County wetland and buried a small creek with excavated dirt as he made way for a new grid of grapevines. The wealthy venture capitalist paid the penalty and was allowed to keep the vineyard, which, according to state authorities, Harvey “insisted on retaining.” This concluded the investigation — as officials determined that the destruction Harvey caused was so thorough and complete that asking him to restore the land to its natural state was futile.”

The Golden (shower) Rule in action!

“Generous campaign contributions from winery and vineyard owners may influence how county officials govern the wine industry. In 2015 and 2016, of $477,025 donated to the campaigns of three current Napa County supervisors – Alfredo Pedroza, Belia Ramos and Ryan Gregory – 87 percent of the money came from wineries and business interests.”

I’m shocked, SHOCKED to find there’s winemaking going on here!

Yep.

But I do understand the thinking.

In NYC, there are no driveways in many neighborhoods because the brownstones were built before cars were invented. So they have alternate side parking days once or twice a week. In my neighborhood it was once a week. Tuesday you couldn’t park on the left side and Wednesday you couldn’t park on the right side.

It used to be that if you were out of town for four, five days or more, the cost of a parking ticket was less than the parking fee at LaGuardia or JFK. So when traveling, I’d just leave my car, get the ticket, and save $50 to over a hundred on parking.

Then they raised the cost of parking tickets to an absurd level and it became more cost-effective to avoid the ticket and pay for parking.

I suppose it’s the same here.

And it’s a bit of an FU if those same vineyards can then be certified as sustainable, etc.

There are a lot of people involved in the wine industry that know way more than any county supervisor, county planner or novice winemaker or winery owner. Most of the professional people involved in preparing and planting a vineyard know the rules and the engineering aspects. One example is Todd Anderson. He is a Geologist and knows more about caves and cave building than the county planners do as well as aspects of the soil for any given area in the valley. There are those people and investment groups that are buying up vineyards and wineries without a lick of knowledge beyond perceived high profit margin. We have one winery purchased by an Asian group. The don’t think the rules and regulations apply to them, just like the lack of rules, (or enforcement), in their home country. For the last 20 years of politicians and planners it has been easier to ask for forgiveness than get permission. Now there is more money to obtain forgiveness and permission and the county does try to make doing business less painless than before. Like everywhere else, nobody expected the traffic and with that lack of planning/recognition it is becoming the primary gripe about every winery on any road other than a highway.

BUT. There are fairly large number of people who have theirs, but don’t want you to have yours. The NIMBYs have contributed to the problem by complaining and/or suing about things so minor, any complaint has to be reviewed from both directions, violation/NIMBY. There are some side stories along these lines that would boggle your mind.