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Booze, a Banker, & The Bailout: The Murder of Mark West Creek

Booze, a Banker, & The Bailout:
The Murder of Mark West Creek

by Will Parrish
Anderson Valley Advertiser
November, 2010


. . . In its narrow drive to convert grapes into dollars with the greatest possible speed, the wine enterprise has clearcut vast sections of forest, sucked dry entire creeks and streams, reduced the once mighty Russian River to a trickle during many springs and summers, helped drive the river’s trout and salmon populations nearly to extinction, pumped countless tons of pesticides and herbicides into those same watersheds, destroyed tens of thousands of acres of riparian animal habitat, and recontoured dozens of mountain ridgetops to plant grapes in desired high-elevation microclimates, in the West Coast equivalent of the coal industry’s strip-mining of the Appalachian Range. All these activities are wholly dependent on migrant laborers, who the industry heavily exploits.

The tragic, stranger-than-fiction story of Henry Cornell’s own vineyard and proposed wine production factory, which cling to a steep southeastern slope of the Mayacamas Mountains, roughly seven miles northeast of Santa Rosa, reads as a distilled version of the relentless pursuit of the grape dollar by Sonoma County at large.

Cornell purchased his 120-acre parcel, which lies at the north fork of Mark West Creek, in 1999. It was a heady time for California’s enterprising viticulturists. . .

. . .

To read the entire article,
visit the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Cornell Vineyards on Mark West Creek - unpermitted grading, 2005
Cornell Vineyards on Mark West Creek,
unpermitted grading, 2005.
photo credit: Friends of the Mark West Watershed

See also:

Cornell Winery site on Mark West Creek - unpermitted grading, 2005 “The Wrath of Grapes”
How a Goldman Sachs executive is helping to kill Mark West Creek – and what the county isn’t doing about it.
January 2011, North Bay Bohemian

The North Coast Wine Industry:
Draining Our Rivers Dry

Thursday, March 3, 2011
7:00 p.m.
Gualala Arts Center

Will Parrish Investigative reporter Will Parrish will discuss his controversial recent series for the Anderson Valley Advertiser on the ecological toll of California’s wine industry, with a special emphasis on rapacious vineyard development in the Gualala River watershed.