Sunday, February 22, 2015


Recently, and if you ask me, it's about time, the citizens of Sonoma County have been kicking up dust re: new winery and vineyard installation.  For awhile now, I've been suggesting we need to place a moratorium on new vineyard development across the state just to step back and determine what damage has been done to our various habitats and acquirers that affect so many, um, voters.  This would also give some of those Eco-systems to rejuvenate.

I'm posting a couple links on this subject.  And there will be more to come.

Sonoma County has gone from an agriculture that at one time, benefitted all, to a monoculture that now benefits a very few.  There are over 70,000 acres under vine while approximately 12,000 acres of EVERYTHING ELSE.  We need to stop new vineyard from being planted.

We have enough grapes.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Here's a letter (one of many, recently) that appeared in the Press Democrat re: new vineyards...

Stumps of apple trees waiting for removal to clear the way for another vineyard.

EDITOR: Patrecia Graham (“NIMBY reflex,” Letters, Feb. 11) appears to believe that Sonoma County is the absolute property of vintners and, thus, holds local residents in contempt. I’d like to remind her and Guy Fieri and Paul Hobbs and others like them that people also live in this area. We live here because we love its beauty and tranquility.
As I am witness, in less than a decade even my neighborhood was transformed from a landscape of orchards that attracted plein air artists to vineyards surrounded by ugly wire fences. Many of us feel that we already have too many vineyards and wineries as it is. Our unique viniculture, a source of great pride for our county, has become a culture of greed for those who can only see profit.
These people have complete disregard for the communities where they wish to expand. They insist that their expansion produces more jobs, but at whose cost, the taxpayers? I would like to know if these people ever considered paying their workers a fair wage and supporting their housing and health care.
Many of us would rather see our precious farm land and groundwater utilized in the production of edible foods and not in something we cannot eat.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I have signed the petition and am in the middle of a letter that I will copy to both the president of the board and the district superintendent.  I urge you to send an email voicing your opinion.  Make it short if you have to.  But make it count! 
This must be in their email boxes sometime tomorrow, February 18th.
I wholeheartedly agree with Nell's letter below.  We've also provided you with important links re: this issue.

          Our kids matter.


I am writing to you because I think you have an interest in what type of field will replace the natural grass at Analy and El Molino this summer. I urge you to appeal to your school board members by emailing the district supervisor and president of the board and show up at the 6pm meeting February 18th at El Molino to voice for a greener option than synthetic crumb fields. The meeting is open to the public at 6pm

The Division State Architects have approved a synthetic turf field and I believe that we can do better for our klds and community. Let’s look to companies like GeoTurf, a natural coconut husk and cork alternative, that could give us the drought tolerant and all weather field that we need without exposing our lands and children to more fossil fuel products. 

The party line is that the synthetics are “safe” and yet there is a bill coming up next month in the Senate that proposes a moratorium on crumb fields till 2018 and asks California to take a second look at the logic of using ground up tires as a sports surface. Please join me at the board meeting this next Wednesday to voice your opinion on synthetic fields, especially while our senators are debating the idea of banning them for their health risks! 

Thank you for being aware and taking the time to consider an alternative.

Nell Hergenrather

President of the board

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015


Photo by BIM

It seems I made a mistake in my previous calculations (although I think it was a typo).  It also seems I did Joe Wagner (the winery guy) a favor.

The article I based my calculations on was Mike Dunne's Sacramento Bee article linked in my previous post.

In that article, Mike claims that it takes 29 gallons of water to make 1 glass of wine.  Let's say 4 glasses per bottle - that's 116 gallons per bottle.

12 bottles per case - 1,392 gallons of water.

500,000 cases - 696,000,000 gallons of water.

Oh.  BTW, this does not include the 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits they are going to produce.

Sorry for the error.  The winery would've thanked me.


Please excuse us for not furnishing the location for the Sebastopol City Council meeting.  CC meetings are held at the Youth Annex behind the Community Center on Morris St.

TONIGHT - 6:00pm

465 Morris Street.  The building looks like this (from the front)...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

700,000,000 GALLONS OF WATER...

It is imperative that people show up for the city council meeting on Tuesday night.  That is, if you want to prevent this uber-winery to be built in our midst.

Below is a letter I sent this morning to the Sebastopol City Council.  Please read it and imagine the impact this project will have on our lives.

Photo by BIM

It seems ludicrous that just after experiencing the driest January in California history, we are discussing another brand new winery that will extract at least 16 million gallons of water per year.  I say at least, because I used the conservative figure of 10 gallons of water to yield 1 gallon of wine.

Unfortunately, in my research, I have not been able to verify my numbers (my numbers came from LaCrema winery when I worked there six years ago.  They have since quadrupled their production).  In fact, the lowest numbers I have been able to find are 29 gallons of water to make 1 GLASS of wine.

This includes everything from irrigating the vines to washing the tarmac on the crush pad.  Please read this important article by Mike Dunne for the Sacramento Bee.

For this particular project, the proposed 500,000 case production would require 696,000,000 gallons of water per year pulled from the aquifer.  That DOES NOT include the 250,000 gallons of distiller spirits they plan to make on top of the planned wine production.  And believe me, like every other winery in the state, once established, this winery will seek to increase production.

It is my opinion that the entire state of California should place a moratorium on new vineyard and winery development, not just during the drought, but until we can determine what damage this industry (that I work in) does across the state.  According to NPR, people in Paso Robles have to use paper plates to eat because they don't have the water to wash dishes OR take baths.  Vineyard installation in that area has exploded, unchecked, without regard to the natural resources or the people who rely on them.

California has gone from an agriculture that has benefitted all to a monoculture that benefits a few; over 70,000 acres of wine grapes planted versus 12,000 of EVERYTHING ELSE.

This project sets a dangerous precedence and, in my opinion, would destroy the Laguna de Santa Rosa and open the door to more insensitive projects in an environment that cannot support them.

This project is wrong for Sebastopol.  It is wrong for Sonoma County.