Fifty years ago this month, Napa County was declared an Agricultural Preserve, the first in the United States, declaring agriculture as the “highest and best use” of land in Napa County.
The declaration secured the future of Napa at a time when urban-development throughout Northern California saw acres of oak and walnut groves destroyed to become shopping-mall filled, concrete communities. The declaration ensured that farming would thrive in Napa, meaning farmers would be able to freely plant their vines and crops without worry of a drug store opening next door.
Today, Measure C (or the 2018 Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative) is on the ballot this June to redefine farming in Napa Valley, as continued vineyard development is destroying the natural habitat. Vintners and winery owners, including highly respected Andy Beckstoffer, Robin Lail, and Warren Winiarski, are asking to keep growth in check to secure the natural habitats of Napa, like saving historic trees, the Napa watershed and wildlife preserves when planting new vineyards.
Supporters of the measure noted in a Feb. 10 letter to the Napa Valley Register that “enhancing oak woodland protections is pro-responsible and sustainable agriculture, pro-water security, pro-community, and pro-climate.” Maintaining a sustainable ecosystem throughout the valley will help everyone as a whole, protecting Napa County and Mother Earth, for generations to come.
Many new owners in the county oppose the measure, as many purchased their highly expensive properties with the intent to plant vines in every available square inch to either sell their grapes or make wine. The measure will impede their ability to do this. The hotly debated topic throughout Napa will be voted on in June.
Until then, this Earth Day weekend, toast with a few Napa Valley wines that farm clean, focusing on sustainability efforts, following the guidelines laid out through the Napa Green Project. Napa Green is a soil-to-bottle approach to environmental stewardship and winemaking.
Certified “Napa Green Land” ensures landowners implement measures to retain soils and prevent erosion, conserve water resources and restore wildlife habitats, protecting biodiversity. Wineries certified a “Napa Green Winery” supports and sustains the long-term perspective of the land program, producing quality wines while conserving water and energy in the process. Napa Green wineries implement 100-plus measures beyond compliance to save resources, prevent waste and enhance efficiency.
A few locally available selections that are certified both Napa Green Land and Winery include wines from Cakebread Cellars, Frank Family Winery &Vineyards, Domaine Carneros, Cliff Lede, Chateau Montelena, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Pine Ridge, Charles Krug, and Robert Mondavi Winery. Each unique in style and approach to winemaking, yet unanimously committed to their responsibility of protecting their land.
Hayley Hamilton Cogill is a sommelier, wine writer, and educator. Together with her husband Gary Cogill, an Emmy award-winning film critic, they host “Cogill Wine And Film, A Perfect Pairing” podcast on reVolverPodcasts.com while living on Hawaii Island in Kamuela while both writing for West Hawaii Today.