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“Timber Vs. Grapes”

Timber Vs. Grapes

Preservation Ranch project would include 1,800 acres of vineyards and promises to figure prominently in west Sonoma County supervisorial race

By Robert Digitale
The Press Democrat
August 23, 2008

For the past decade, environmentalists and property owners have looked at the forested hilltops of northwestern Sonoma County and considered from sharply differing viewpoints the land’s transformation into terrain for premium wine grapes.

Now the wrangling has begun over upcoming environmental studies that could determine the fate of what would be the largest timberland conversion project in the county’s history.

The proposed 19,650-acre Preservation Ranch project is backed by a noted Napa County vintner and a $200 million investment in his company by the state’s public employee retirement system.

The proposal would include planting more than 1,800 acres of vineyards on hilltops scattered across 30 square miles outside Annapolis.

. . .

The proposal would “forever change the forest out here and destroy a lot of it,” said Chris Poehlmann, vice president of the Friends of the Gualala River.

Critics maintain that adding the proposed vineyards would remove trees that hold carbon from the atmosphere, reduce the capacity of the land to slowly release water to streams in summer and remove water for grapes from the aquifer and streams. Some also question how the region’s winding back roads could accommodate trucks carrying the grapes at crush time from 1,800 acres of vineyards.

. . .

The basic question, [Sonoma County Supervisor Mike] Reilly said, is “are folks willing to trade off redwood forests for wine?”

. . .

To read the entire article,
visit the The Press Democrat website.

See also: Preservation Ranch.

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