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.