Vintners and Growers support YES on Measure C

Letter to the Editor by Napa County Growers and Vintners


Napa County voters are seeing a lot about Measure C right now in the form of highway signs, mailers, door signs and editorials in and letters to our local newspapers. It is quite shocking to see the financial might behind the opposition – should significant money from vineyard and winery organizations, or the voice of citizens, win this battle for our watershed?

We hope it is the citizens of Napa County who will prevail, which is why we, who are members of the vintner and grower community, are strongly in favor of Measure C.

We support Measure C because:

1. It protects our water supply. Water stored in and by the Agricultural Watershed by the oak woodlands is the primary source of recharge for urban reservoirs and groundwater. Water is our most precious resource, and the health and prosperity of our entire county now and into the future depends on preserving the woodlands that hold our water and make it available for use.

2. It protects the Agricultural Preserve. Established 50 years ago this year, this masterpiece has protected Napa Valley by defining agriculture as the highest and best use of our land. As Napa Valley has become so highly regarded over the last half century and pressures for development have increased, Measure C now aims to offer protections to our Ag Watershed. Protecting our watershed will preserve our water resources for agriculture, housing, and the natural environment. Importantly, it is estimated that 60-70 percent of water used for agriculture in the Ag Preserve comes from our aquifers, which are fed by the water from the Ag Watershed.

3. It encourages responsible agriculture. There are many acres (more than 5,000, by most estimates) of land in the Ag Watershed that can be converted to agriculture without removing oak woodlands (this is even codified in our County General Plan). Measure C is not anti-agriculture. Rather, it is pro-responsible agriculture, placing a high value on the healthy co-existence of our watershed, our oak woodlands, vineyards and other development.

There is a lot of information out there, much of it misleading, with a major funder being the Napa Valley Vintners. Interestingly, it is the Napa Valley Vintners who helped craft what is now Measure C – the lawyer for the NVV, Tom Adams of Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, and the lawyer for the authors of the initiative, Robert Perlmutter of Shute Mihaly Weinberger (the lawyers for the Farm Bureau), drafted the initiative.

Over a seven-month period, representatives of the NVV Board, the authors and each side’s legal counsel worked collaboratively and in good faith to create an initiative that would protect our Ag Watershed lands. The NVV Board voted unanimously four times to continue the negotiations.

Yet earlier this year, due to intense pressure from some vocal members, mostly corporate, the Board of the NVV joined with the Boards of the Napa Valley Grape Growers and the Farm Bureau to oppose Measure C. And now the names of these respected trade organizations are on much of what the voters are receiving in opposition to this responsible measure.

We, who are members of the above organizations but who are not represented on their Boards, encourage you to vote 'yes' on Measure C. Our community belongs to all of us, and it will take all of us working together to ensure the preservation of our watershed and oak woodlands now and into future generations. Thank you for your consideration.

Gove Celio, Winemaker

Tom Clark, Clark Claudon Vineyards

Bob Dwyer, past Director of NVGG & NVV

Keith Hargrove, Hindsight Wines

Charles Johnston, Helena View Johnston

Robin Lail, Lail Vineyards

Dick Maher, past NVV President

Beth Novak Milliken, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery

Christian and Cherise Moueix, Dominus Estate

Norma Tofanelli, Tofanelli Vineyards

Warren Winiarski, Arcadia Vineyards