Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on The North Coast Wine Industry’s Latest Coup De Grace: Draining Our Rivers Dry

The North Coast Wine Industry’s Latest Coup De Grace: Draining Our Rivers Dry

Will Parrish, ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER

The latest in the North Coast wine oligarchy’s long series of legislative coups de grace occurs on December 14th, as this issue of the Anderson Valley Advertiser goes to press. In what will surely be a 5-0 vote, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will rubber-stamp new regulations on frost protection in the Russian River water basin, now in its death throes after having been continuously ravaged by several generations of extractive enterprise.

In recent decades, the once-simple act of protecting new bud growth on grape vines from frigid temperatures has become tantamount to a war on rivers. The predominantly corporate alcohol farmers who wield executive authority over the North Coast’s land and politics almost universally combat frost damage via systems of overhead sprinklers that sprawl out across each row of grapes, dowsing them with a continuous coat of water on spring nights when local temperatures drop into the 20s.

via The North Coast Wine Industry’s Latest Coup De Grace: Draining Our Rivers Dry | Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land UseTags , Leave a comment on Sonoma County, Banana Republic of Wine-Grapes

Sonoma County, Banana Republic of Wine-Grapes

Will Parrish, ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER

In 1993, American wine industry goliath E&J Gallo (annual revenue: $2 billion) founded its first subsidiary dedicated solely to producing high-end, “premium” vintages: Gallo of Sonoma. The move reflected a dramatic shift for the Gallo empire, which accounts for one in four bottles sold in the US wine market.

For several decades, Gallo’s forte was cheap, fortified jug wines such as Thunderbird and Night Train — each at least 18 percent alcohol by volume. The company initially cornered this dubious market in the ’50s and ’60s, via clever ad campaigns complemented by aggressive promotions in so-called inner-city “colored bars” (a process described by journalist Ellen Hawkes in her book Blood and Wine) and off-reservation American Indian communities. The dislocation, poverty, and alienation endemic to many of these areas provided fertile grounds for alcoholism, which the Gallo patriarchs Ernest and Julio shamelessly bred and profited from.

via Sonoma County, Banana Republic of Wine-Grapes | Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Booze, A Banker & A Bailout: The Murder Of Mark West Creek

Booze, A Banker & A Bailout: The Murder Of Mark West Creek

Will Parrish, ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER

As the Director of Merchant Banking at America’s most politically well-connected investment firm, Goldman Sachs, Henry L. Cornell is accustomed to reaping the benefits of political oligarchy. (Webster definition: “a government in which a small group exercises control, especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.”) His company exerts a profound influence in the corridors of both national and global power, not only by shaping legislation to the benefit of the interlocking financial, real estate, and investment industries, but by helping set the rules under which policy battles are waged in the first place. The multi-trillion dollar 2008 bailout of the banking industry, authored by then-Treasury Secretary and former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson, is only the most famous example.

As with the US in general, the County of Sonoma is controlled by a disproportionately small group of people. On the whole, their purposes are selfish and corrupt. Whereas the political oligarchy that calls the shots nationally consists mainly of representatives of the financial, real estate, hydrocarbon, military-industrial, and agribusiness sectors, the oligarchs who set the overall agenda at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, are primarily representatives of a single business: wine.

via Booze, A Banker & A Bailout: The Murder Of Mark West Creek | Anderson Valley Advertiser.