Thursday, September 29, 2016

Growing old illegally?

Here begins a series of occasional correspondence with a Napa County resident uncommonly knowledgeable both politically and historically. Her work reaches all the way into the halls of justice in Washington, D.C. , and though I can't vouch for all of it, I do find her work valuable and interesting, and she herself a fine example of engaged citizenship.

                                          The Private I

    This recent industrial accident in the Ag Preserve south of Yountville, investigated by the Sheriff's Department, reveals - as does the wine's label - that a generic California wine is being aged in the Ag Preserve.  The wines contain no local fruit and - generic wines can only be produced in the industrial area south of Napa.
    Little by little more and more "label operations" with faux fronts are destroying our ag preserve, using our precious water, adding commercial traffic and more tourists to our roads, while operating as illegitimates.  It's consumer deception, even though bottles are properly labeled California Wine vs. Napa Valley.  
    While the Sheriff can investigate the death, only costly civil actions can restore our blessed valley.  Think of this as a label operation for Sutter Home Winery capitalizing on a local name, after they were chased out of th Ag Preserve years ago.
A reader responds:
    Afraid your source is way off. Of course, "generic" wines are legally produced as well as aged all over the AP. They just must be correctly labeled (and there's the rub). There is no legal requirement for ANY pre-WDO winery to use ANY county fruit - it can all be "generic" and that is millions of gallons.
    And if they were using Napa fruit pre-WDO they have no requirement to continue to do so nor any requirement to reveal their sources. So, if they were producing a million gallons Napa wine pre-WDO, they can shift that volume to all non-Napa fruit (or bulk wine), nothing prevents that.
    In fact, they can apply for an expansion, claim that they were crushing Napa fruit pre-WDO (no proof needed), "shift" the numbers of that "Napa fruit" to meet the 75% requirement of their post-WDO expansion and never reveal their sources. This is the "source shifting" that so concerned Andy with Raymond's expansion. Big fight over this a few years ago with NVV - they won, of course.
    Only wineries approved or expanded post-WDO are required to use 75% Napa fruit - they can process up to 25% of their production in non-Napa fruit and that can also be millions of gallons of "generic" wine.
    Airport Industrial and within certain city limits (Napa): there is no requirement for any winery to use any Napa fruit but those are not the only locations legally producing and/or "aging" "generic" wines. So there is no "there" there…
    The "there" is in the fact that altho NVV polices the use of "Napa Valley" on NEW label applications - no one monitors what is IN the bottle. There are no requirements for wineries to reveal the source of their grapes in any Federal TTB reporting - and TTB is supposed to control the use of appellations (working on this but on hold for harvest).
    No one monitors the 75% sourcing in NC either - unless
selected for audit - and now NVV has convinced county to do "mandatory" reporting that can't be verified to anything because no one tracks it - all very clever.
    Shhh at this time - but there is a really big story here that no o
ne is looking at - it's not what's ON the label, but what's IN the bottle (EVEN if legal by current regs).
   The source is right that the Joel Gott operation is suspect - but may be totally within regs which allow and promote consumer deception.


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