Three environmental groups sued the state and a Spanish wine conglomerate on Thursday over approval of a hotly disputed vineyard project in northwest Sonoma County. The groups oppose plans by Artesa Vineyards and Winery of Napa, owned by the Spanish wine giant Grupo Codorniu, to clear about 150 acres of second-growth forest and former orchard land outside of Annapolis to grow chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. The project, on the drawing board for more than a decade and under state review since 2009, was approved by state forestry officials in May over the objections of environmental interests and several Indian tribes.
State forestry officials on Tuesday approved a controversial timber-to-vineyard conversion project in northwest Sonoma County, following through with a decision expected months ago. The decision on what is considered the largest timber-to-vineyard project in state history clears the most significant regulatory hurdle facing Artesa Vineyards and Winery.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo and former Supervisor Ernie Carpenter traded sharp jabs Wednesday night over a controversial timber-to-vineyard conversion project that is sure to become a key election issue in the race for the 5th District supervisorial seat. The issue — and the intensity of the exchanges in a bid to win environmental votes in the west county district — took center stage in a candidates’ forum in Graton that included former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Veronica Jacobi.
State officials signaled this week they intend to approve a controversial timber-to-vineyard conversion project in rural northwest Sonoma County, overruling the latest wave of objections, this time from some neighbors, local tribes and several elected officials. Napa-based Artesa Vineyards plans to create 116 acres of premium chardonnay and pinot noir vineyards, 20 acres of roads and a nine-acre reservoir on 324 acres of second-growth forestland, former orchards and grazed meadows just east of Annapolis.
Sonoma County grape growers aiming to convert forested hillsides with neat rows of vineyards will have to prove their projects won’t damage local waterways under draft regulations released Thursday. The new rules, proposed by Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar, would prohibit tree removal on the steepest of slopes.
Beyond the dusty homesteads and small fruit orchards that ring the isolated town of Annapolis stand vast forested hillsides that long have been the domain of timber companies. But as logging has waned, the sprawling northwest Sonoma County landscape of second-growth redwood and fir is being eyed for another crop: premium grapes for top-dollar wines.
Sonoma County code enforcement officials are scheduled Monday to inspect a 10-acre timberland conversion project on property near Pocket Canyon, just east of Guerneville, owned by winemaker Paul Hobbs.