The Enemies of Napa Valley Wine Come Out of the Closet

In an earlier post concerning an effort here in Napa Valley to prevent any more plantings of vineyards anywhere but on the Valley floor, I claimed that the proponents of the Oak Woodlands initiative had a hidden agenda they were not talking about.

I was right.

In a recent letter to the Napa Valley Register, the author of the Oak Woodland Initiative, Mike Hackett, noted that the Initiative “represents a step in the right direction.”

Not the solution to a problem. Not the answer to a problem. Rather, the Initiative to cut off planting of vineyards in Napa Valley is A step in the right direction. What’s clear is that if the extremists behind the initiative are successful in seeing it pass, there will be more job-killing, wine-industry derailing and economy-stopping initiatives to follow. Nobody is fooled. Mike Hackett has now said as much.

What’s next from the extremists’ crew? Moratorium on all winery construction or remodels? Moratorium on the development of any hotels and restaurants? Mandatory shuttle usage by winery employees? An increase in local taxes to fund unnecessary measures?

In the same letter to the editor, Hackett announces that twice as many signatures as are needed to qualify this job-killing measure for the ballot have been collected and it should show up on the June 2018 ballot. At this point, it’s time for those who possess common sense, who have the best interests of Napa County at heart and those who oppose what is just one step in rolling back the most environmentally conscious industry in the state to gather their forces.

There are a number of organizations in Napa Valley who will surely oppose the unneeded Oak Woodlands Initiative. Certainly, the Napa Valley Vintners, who represent the Valley’s wine industry and who recognize a blatant attack on their members when they see it, can be expected to oppose the Initiative. Meanwhile the Napa Winegrowers, Napa Grapegrowers and Napa Farm Bureau — all institutions that have for decades been at the forefront of successfully maintaining the health of the Napa Valley environment—can be expected to oppose the initiative.

When citizens of Napa Valley finally learn that there is ZERO science behind the initiative; when the Napa Valley Vintners point out the myriad ways the initiative harms the wine industry and all those who work in that industry; when the Napa Farm Bureau, Napa Winegrowers and Napa Grapegrowers bring the science and facts to the debate, we can expect Napa County residents to see the ruse that is the Oak Woodlands Initiative.

Most of all, when residents of Napa County learn that this is just the first attempt to step on the neck of the local economy and burn down jobs in the process, Napa Valley residents will vote against this initiative. The great hope, however, is that the Napa Valley Vintners along with the Grapegrowers, Winegrowers and Farm Bureau are hard at work planning to educate the public.


8 Responses

  1. Gabriel Froymovich - November 29, 2017

    Wow, Tom, you are not just stirring up the bees’ nest this week, you’re vandalizing an apiary!

  2. Robert Cohn - November 30, 2017

    Sounds like the fascists are coming for the wine industrie to me.

    • Corkboy - December 5, 2017

      More like the communists.

  3. Patricia - November 30, 2017

    It would, of course, be a delight to drive up (or down) US 29 the way I did in the early 1980s and to visit my favourite vineyards and wineries as friends.

    Reality check, please? Napa is big, dare I say, very BIG, business. If the proposed referendum (I use the word wisely) is approved by the populace, Napa might be “down-sized”, or abandoned by many of the people that make it great today. Sustainable isn’t only environment, although that is a critical part; it is also about sustaining people and believe, it or not, the economical value of a region or product.

    • Donn Rutkoff - December 1, 2017

      Why is your frame of reference of the 1980s any more valid than the 1950s, or 1960, or 2000, or today? We perpetually change the landscape we live in. Change is perpetual. You can only freeze time in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Think if 2 generations before you, your neighborhood was put into a freeze and your residence was never built. Where will you live now?

    • Donn Rutkoff - December 1, 2017

      Oh, sorry Patricia, I missed your final line. Glad you agree (I think) that economic progress is good and happens anywhere everywhere.

  4. Mary Rocca - December 8, 2017

    I am all for sustainable (both environment and economy), yet I am firmly of the mind that moderation is key. Our valley would not be what it is today if not for the economic value of the wine industry: without winegrapes making a living for wineries and their teams, this valley would have long ago been paved over with houses, more roads and all that goes with development. I for one vote for reasonable growth in the wine industry, and not rules to prevent that. On top of all that, California is expected to face more years like the one we just experienced: cycles of extensive rain followed by hot summers, leading to fire danger increasing significantly. One only needs to look at the way the fire progressed and stopped in our valley to see that the vineyards served as a firebreak and prevented our valley floor from extensive fire damage. Properly planted and cultivated hillside vineyards can serve to protect us all in the future!

  5. Ben Hiza - December 12, 2017

    Tom,
    Respectfully, how is protecting watershed “job killing”? Do you think that if we never added another acre of vines in the Napa Valley the wine industry would be “derailed”? Do you believe that preserving natural habitat and leaving trees on the hillsides would “stop the economy”?
    I am not a scientist. I do not know the effects of clear cutting hillsides, but I also know that there may in fact be more than “zero” science behind the proposed initiative. In this very reactionary time that we are all living in, maybe a little civil back and forth would be of benefit to us all.


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