Protect Napa

Napa County Measure C sharply divides wine industry

Angela Johnston for KALW, May 31 2018

Measure C proponent Warren Winiarski stands in front of his vineyards at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.  CREDIT ANGELA JOHNSTON

Measure C proponent Warren Winiarski stands in front of his vineyards at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.


"“When we passed the Agricultural Preserve there were almost zero number of acres that were irrigated in this valley — and now we have almost zero number of acres that are not irrigated,” he says.

Winiarski and the authors of Measure C say: if we don’t preserve the streams and oak trees of the Napa Valley hillside, there won’t be enough water to grow anything.

“There won’t be viticulture if you don’t have the water. Napa is a victim of its own success.”

...Measure C would put a cap on the number of oak trees a Napa landowner can remove. Once that quota has been met, landowners will have to apply for a permit to cut down additional trees. The Measure would also create a buffer zone around streams where no tree of any type can be removed."

Read the full article here

The simple being made confusing.

A Letter to the Editor by Joanne Yates, May 23, 2018


Measure C is simple; its opponents have made it confusing.

Measure C protects the only natural water system we have left in the county that filters our water, stores it, and recharges the aquifers. That system is the “watershed”, which are wooded hillsides divided by ridges directing the flow of water into the ground and to streams.

That water is groundwater, and right now about 70 percent of it is being used by agricultural development.

There are no woodlands left on the valley floor to act as a filter, collector, and recharger for the aquifers because the majority of land has been clear cut and planted in vineyards. The rest is urban development. That is why an abundant, dependable supply of groundwater is critical to the county’s municipalities and vineyards/wineries.

The only land left for ag development is the county’s hillsides. Corporate winery interests know that and are working diligently to develop plans for extensive vineyards on land that was never meant for grapes. After all, if Hall Winery could get permission to clear-cut the oak woodlands on Walt Ranch, then why not the next wealthy ag-industry conglomerate that wants a part of Napa County?

But here’s the hitch: if the woodlands are cut down and the watershed areas can no longer filter, store, and recharge the aquifers, then where do we get our water?

Measure C protects the property rights of all those who choose to farm their land responsibly. Measure C protects everyone’s right to clean water. If that’s what you want for your family, your grandkids, and for agriculture, vote yes. If you want to support corporate profiteers, then vote no.

I urge you to join your neighbors and do the right thing. Vote 'yes' on C.

By the way, Sierra Club endorses Measure C and just announced its endorsement for Cio Perez as supervisor.

Joanne Yates

St. Helena

Why would anyone oppose Measure C?

A Letter to the Editor by Nancy Carter, May 26, 2018


As I write this letter, I am at a loss to understand why anyone would have any objection to Measure C.

Obviously, any resident of Napa County will be adversely impacted financially if the measure fails, but who will be most catastrophically harmed are the very people who oppose it, the winery owners. Without water, they are out of business. No water, no grapes, no wine, no tourists, no business, no money, the end.

Why it took an 85-year-old retired woman to point this out is a mystery. This does not bode well for the future of the industry. Napa County, however, will be fine with or without the wine business. The beauty and natural resources of the valley will remain regardless of the self-destructiveness of the wine industry.

With best wishes for our mutual survival.

Nancy Carter

Santa Rosa

Measure C is long-term good for the Napa Valley

A Letter to the Editor by Bernard Portet, May 26th, 2018

I have been reading with much attention many comments pro and con the proposed Measure C.

I respectfully disagree with several of the reasons expressed on the roadside panels, which I find of a very populist nature. They try to scare the electors, so they reject Measure C and I find difficult to agree with them: Hurt Agriculture? Increase traffic on Highway 29? Some claim that we should leave the decision up to the Board of Supervisors.

Fine, but does not the elimination of 14,000 oak trees strike you as way out of common sense? That is what the supervisors did approve.

Basically, the two positions, for a No or a Yes differ on their respective perspective: In my view, the No is a very short-term decision while the Yes looks towards the future and the well being of our children and grandchildren and generations past these.

We should all realize that availability of water and more particularly of drinking water is going to be one of the major issues of the future and therefore should seriously take into consideration the major importance of the protection of the water catchment surfaces we have and protect to a maximum our forested areas.

I do add my voice to Warren Winiarski’s comments, who has shown to be a long-term visionary for the protection of Napa Valley.

For our grandchildren and generations beyond, I urge you to vote Yes on Measure C.

Bernard Portet


What are the true motives on each side of Measure C?

A Letter to the Editor by Lynna Roberts, May 26, 2018


I am voting Yes on Measure C. I trust those who wrote it. With good character, high intellect and a proven heart for the conservation of natural resources their only motive is to save the oak woodlands and the watersheds.

Do not be deceived by language used by those who want to destroy the diverse beauty of the Napa Valley hillsides for sheer profit. Those opposing are concerned that their desire to expand vineyards across every hillside in Napa will be prevented by the people of the valley who think we have enough wine and enough vineyards as it is.

And don't be confused by the many mail outs and advertising that say No on C. Remember their position is funded by big money and those who apparently have little concern for conservation.

The true conservationist wrote the initiative with nothing to personally gain except the protection of our valley. They created a grassroots movement of hard working volunteers to get enough signatures of caring residents needed to bring it to the ballot for you to decide. The bottom line is more grapes equals less trees and less water.

Supporters of C fought in court for fair and truthful verbiage to be used on the voting ballot pamphlet instead of deceptive and misleading language used by the opposition to C. The opposition had to revise several of their statements and pay $54,000 for attorney fees to the Yes on C side.

Because of these grassroots conservationists' relentless commitment and their efforts, the public will now have truthful information on the ballot pamphlet on the "Con" side. But the No on C people can say whatever they choose on their brochures. And they intend on confusing those who really do care about our hillsides, oaks, wildlife, and watersheds.

If you care about saving and conserving these things, please vote Yes on C. Vote Yes on C to save the trees. Remember, the signs and brochures for "No" are paid for by those who stand to gain big financial profits. Think Yes on C for "C-onservation."

New vineyards are devastating to the environment. These projects strip, clear cut, burn, fence, contaminate and use millions more gallons of water than other possibilities and have the serious potential for damaging our water quality.

New vineyards bring the serious and highly probable potential for many more wineries; and with them event centers. This creates more use of resources including additional major traffic on our already crowded highways and roads.

I hope when people vote they will know what they are really choosing. Thanks to all those who show they care about our natural resources by voting Yes on C and preserving them for our future generations.

When considering your vote, ask yourself what the true motives are on each side of this Measure. And if in doubt follow the money.

Lynna Roberts


Napa Sunset

Book Review by Jonah Raskin for the Bohemian

Napa at Last Light: America's Eden in an Age of Calamity


"Geoff Ellsworth was a willing and a candid source. A St. Helena council member, artist and supporter of Measure C, Ellsworth has lived in Napa County for 50 years. For decades, he watched the slow, steady chipping away of the forests, the privatization of watersheds and the spread of roads, vineyards, wineries, tasting rooms, event centers and estate homes. Like Conaway, Ellsworth decries what he calls the "erosion of democracy" in Napa. He worries that if the dominance of the industry goes unchecked in his hometown, it can happen anywhere in the United States."

"We're nearly at the point where advocating for clean water for everyone is beginning to look revolutionary," Ellsworth says. "It looks like Napa is turning into the 'valley of the oligarchs.'"

Read the full review here

Do You C?

James Knight for the Bohemian


""We've entered this era, starting with the national election, of these alternate truths." Hackett says it's all about polling. After the Napa Valley Vintners turned against the measure they'd initially helped craft—in part because polling results showed they'd almost certainly lose such a fight, according to Hackett—they turned to polls showing that traffic, hillsides and water were among Napa residents' top concerns.

"They took them and flipped them 180 degrees," Hackett says. "It doesn't matter that it isn't real or true; they just say it to confuse voters.""

Read the article here

Voting without fear

Letter to the Editor by Michelle Montgomery, May 28 2018


I would like to share my experience of Napa as a relative newcomer with fresh eyes.

To be clear, this description doesn’t pertain to everyone; this is also a welcoming and generous community of which I am proud to be involved.

Placing my children into elementary school here, it was clear that there are families in the wine industry, and those who are not. Those not in the wine business are often invisible, and don’t speak out for fear of not being included.

Many belonging in the wine industry blindly support what is happening even when it is not in their best interests for fear of ridicule.

Often, those who work for the industry are afraid to make waves and be shunned by the community.

Worst of all, those working in the vineyards do not speak for fear of losing their livelihoods.

People being afraid to speak is, sadly, the way Napa County likes it.

I am voting Yes on Measure C because citizens are being bullied so that unsustainable corporations can deforest the land and use up water for profit.

They are taking limited resources from our children, and they cannot survive without them.

I oppose No on C because -- what’s in it for me? I’m not voting for someone else's short-term private gain, simultaneously stealing our future’s water and trees that will leave nothing behind for our next generation.

Despite our county government catering to Big Developers, we still have the freedom to vote. Fear not: How you vote is no one’s business but your own and counts now more than ever.

I am voting for my children.

I am voting to protect our water and trees.

I am voting 'yes' on Measure C.

Michelle Montgomery


The science is elementary

Letter to the Editor by Susan Rushing-Hart, May 29 2018


The science supporting the Yes vote on Measure C is elementary; we need water.

As little children we were aware of the earth, air, sun, water and plants, primary things needed to sustain us. By the time we reached 15, we’d learned about plants and photosynthesis (though the formula may have been forgotten). We remember the basics, like, where our oxygen comes from. We know, almost instinctively, that the plants best suited to perform these duties are our oak trees.

We are now adults and should be aware as adults. We are not self-sustaining within our cities; we rely on the State Water Project to meet our needs. During minimal rain years, supplies are decreased. Some of our rural neighbors or small farmers must continuously worry about digging deeper wells. We live under drought conditions.

Our oak woodlands capture and contain rainwater preserving it both as surface water and replenishing basin groundwater. Respect our riparian resources; think of our oak trees as our lungs and our watershed as our circulatory system.

Over 15 years ago, in 2002, the Napa County Planning Commission directed staff to review the justification for recommended stream setbacks. An environmental consulting firm was hired to review scientific research (we, as taxpayers, paid the fees). It seems that the primary goal was to find minimal setbacks required to reduce erosion and sedimentation (or meet state and federal regulations).

The overall health and functions of our watershed inclusive of soil types, plant species, and wildlife were neglected. Little consideration was given to effectiveness of oak trees as buffers within the riparian habitat, their functions of capturing water (quantity), nor abilities of filtration (removing chemicals/toxins and pathogens/germs or better water quality). We should have much wider riparian buffers -- let the oak trees do their jobs.

It was a disappointment to read that “…findings should be viewed as optimistic estimates of the function of buffers...” where land has been disturbed or are buffers are not intact. And “In summary, the setbacks proposed in this technical memo generally represent the minimum setbacks needed…or regarding Class I Streams the proposed setback … should be considered extremely conservative from a scientific perspective.”

Materials presented to the county supervisors and the general public advised that we don’t have a healthy, effective watershed. We didn’t pay attention.

“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” -- Carl Sagan

Vote Yes on Measure C the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection initiative.

Susan Rushing-Hart