Monday, May 20, 2019

More than the land (and citizens) can bear


      The latest ploy by Napa Valley's developers and advocates for more growth is to pass new regulations for "small" wineries that would in fact be big wineries. The Board of Supervisors knows this full well but is afraid to cross the big producers and the organizations behind these pro-development schemes.
      Here's a letter written by a long-term responsible vintner to the board, which is now considering this latest scam to justify yet more building on the hillsides and more tourism:

Ladies and gentlemen,  
      For those of you who are not familiar with my last 40 years: I started Dunn Vineyards in 1979.The first vintage was 650 cases or 1600 gallons; about 10 tons, coming from about 4 acres.  So things progressed; up to 2000 cases, 5000 gallons, 33 tons, off of about 13 acres.
     You see where I am going--- 30,000 gallons is by no means a small, family, farmer, winery.  This would mean a crush facility for about 200 tons of fruit, coming off of 50-70 acres!!  Do you really think that this is within the economics of a small, family winery. This is about $10 mil in vineyard value, then, how much for the small winery?
I invite each of you to visit my winery.  We produce about 5000 cases, or 12,500 gallons. We are small in the grand picture of the wine world, but an operation about 2.5 times our size is not. Come see for yourselves. 
     Trying to push 30,000 gallon winery permits thru to protect the small guys out there is ridiculous, and I think that you all realize that. Sometimes, a person should look in the mirror.

       I think he means that the supervisors should look in the mirror since they know more wineries added to the hundreds already there is the opposite of conservation. It flies in the face of the intent of the Agricultural Preserve established in the sixties. Young people who want to get into the business cheaply are half a century too late.
        Land can't remain healthy, productive, and appealing if at some point people don't say no to development. That realization is part of growing up.