.Pushback Against New Vineyard Proposal in Napa Valley

We’ve got some more potential controversy brewing in the halls of Napa County government. Here’s the deal: A rare proposal for a giant new vineyard in the Napa Valley, where vineyard space is limited (and therefore coveted) and grapes are selling for more money than ever, is getting some pushback from an Arizona-based nonprofit called the Center for Biological Diversity. The developer, KJS & Sorrento, wants to build an approximately 100-acre vineyard called Hyperion along the eastern slopes of Napa Valley, kind of near Anguin. At the outset, it seemed like county officials were leaning toward approving the proposal — just like they were last year, when another developer wanted to set up a new 28-acre vineyard called Le Colline nearby. But then the nonprofit reportedly stepped in and appealed — just like it did last year with Le Colline — because of possible negative effects to the local watershed and wildlife. Back then, county supervisors listened. They backtracked on Le Colline and rejected that proposal in a tight 3-2 vote, according to the Napa Valley Register. Which then caught the eye of other local groups protecting ag interests, like the Napa County Farm Bureau. These groups “questioned whether the county is following its policies to protect agriculture and said emotion is trumping science,” the Register reports. So “the upcoming KJS & Sorrento case should give further clues as to how supervisors will balance county laws promoting agriculture with other county laws protecting the environment.” As you may know, this latest vineyard proposal comes at a very sensitive time for county government officials. They just got hit with a heap of subpoenas from federal investigators — as did the Farm Bureau — apparently relating to various approvals and land deals, including ones affecting the environment, as well as relationships with wine-industry magnates and other local power players. So everyone is watching very closely. Here’s some more info from the Register: “Napa County supervisors have set May 7 as the day to hear their first appeal on a proposed vineyard in the Napa Valley watershed since the controversial veto of the Le Colline vineyard last year. At issue this time is the KJS & Sorrento vineyard project along Sage Canyon Road near Chiles Valley. Also called Hyperion, it is to be an 81-acre vineyard, with a total development area of 112 acres, on a 950-acre property.” (Source: Napa Valley Register; paywall)

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