Phil Barber, PRESS DEMOCRAT
Attempts by owners Craig and Kathryn Hall to transform the wooded ranch into a vineyard were at the epicenter of a wider battle between open space and grape growing in Napa County.
For more than a decade, the owners of Hall Wines have waged an effort to develop several hundred acres of oak woodland in eastern Napa County into vineyard, a plan that has sparked anger in Wine Country residents and embroiled county Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza in an ongoing public controversy.
The dispute came to rest at the epicenter of a wider battle over the future of open space in the North Bay, and the expanding footprint of the region’s famed wine industry.
A potential solution appeared unexpectedly Wednesday, when the Land Trust of Napa County and Hall Wines issued a joint statement announcing the land trust’s intent to buy Walt Ranch, the 2,300-acre property at the heart of the debate.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/land-trust-of-napa-county-agrees-to-buy-controversial-walt-ranch-property-f/
Alana Minkler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Sonoma County wine executive and his business have reached a $925,000 settlement with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office following an environmental complaint that accused them of causing significant damage to streams and wetlands while constructing a vineyard in 2018 near Cloverdale, county District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Friday.
Deeply ripping apart the terrain, tearing down trees and pushing them down streams without permits under the county’s Vineyard & Orchard Site Development Ordinance, and lacking permits for grading roads and installing culverts were among acts that Hugh Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms, LLC were accused of in August 2019.
Uprooting oak woodlands and discharging sediment into Russian River tributaries caused major environmental damage, which violated the California Water Code and the federal Clean Water Act, according to a 2019 investigation by the Regional Water Control Board.
The business also did not comply with the terms of a 2019 cleanup and abatement order, which required the full restoration of the 2,278-acre property to its previous condition.
A statement in May said the impact of these actions are still evident, as they threaten the migration, spawning, reproduction and early development of cold-water fish in the Little Sulphur, Big Sulphur and Crocker creeks.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-vintner-his-business-and-das-office-reach-925k-environment/
Emily Wilder, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
State regulators are seeking to impose a $3.75 million fine on a Sonoma County wine executive and his business for allegedly causing significant damage to streams and wetlands while constructing a vineyard in 2018 near Cloverdale.
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has accused Hugh Reimers, an Australian vintner, and his company Krasilsa Pacific Farms LLC of improperly clearing trees, grading land and disposing of construction and earthen waste materials in a way that was detrimental to wetland waters and wildlife, according to a May 9 complaint by the North Coast Water Board’s enforcement staff.
A 2019 investigation by the water board of the 2,278-acre property, which Krasilsa Pacific purchased in September 2017, found the company violated the California Water Code and the federal Clean Water Act by removing oak woodlands and discharging sediment into Russian River tributaries.
The actions harmed streams that fed into the Little Sulphur, Big Sulphur and Crocker creeks, according to the complaint.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-vintner-business-face-3-75-million-fine-for-alleged-environ/