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Note from WCA: This is an article about our 'local Vintner' new neighbor.  Throughout our discussions with THUSD and Paul Hobbs Winery, Paul Hobbs himself has been over seas....clearly clearing more land to grow more grapes!

The Steve Jobs Of Wine: Winemaker Paul Hobbs

http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiebell/2013/06/17/the-steve-jobs-of-wine-winemaker-paul-hobbs

The Steve Jobs of Wine is an apt metaphor to describe the ardent exactitude of winemaker and consultant Paul Hobbs.  He’s a quality fanatic. Twice named Wine Personality of the Year by Robert Parker, Hobbs was first hired by Robert Mondavi for his expertise in oak aging, he then moved on to Opus One and later Simi Winery.  Hobbs is also credited with recognizing, despite the skeptics, the winemaking potential in Argentina, (while we were all distracted and busy swooning over California). His efforts helped bring that region into global focus. Now he’s busy running Paul Hobbs Winery and Vina Cobos in Argentina. He’s also consulting, sharing his knack for finding good dirt with winemakers across the globe. Given his global perspective I was curious to hear his thoughts on the business of wine today, the role of critics and where he sees new frontiers.

What’s the biggest hurdle for the wine business today?

We need to be good at development and helping people understand and appreciate wine and better educate them about the benefits of wine, especially the benefits of wine with food. I am excited about the opportunities I see in Asia and Russia. I think it’s our hurdle; helping people understand how wine can add to the enrichment of life, much like good theatre, a good movie, or a beautiful work of art.

What’s exciting for the wine business today?

Interestingly, our biggest hurdle also happens to be the biggest opportunity. I think there are older regions opening back up and offering indigenous varietals. All the new wine regions, the new drinkers from places such as Asia, present an opportunity for us to grow in the right direction.

Where do you see the trend of over-ripe, high alcohol massive wines headed? Is that style of wine still what people want?

The most unintentional, driving factor…and its extraordinary to pin this all on one man… was Robert Parker and the score-chasers. Everyone thought big powerful wines were the way to get high scores and everyone was in a rush to create wines to please Parker, get a good score and raise prices. I think Parker was mis-read to some degree, he liked finesse too, but that was lost.

It was frustrating, and many of us got caught up in it; I am somewhat guilty as well. His influence was enormous. Parker brought new drinkers to the table and many liked the style of wine he liked. The big robust wines are easy to love and at some point that style developed its own energy. Today, people are burned out on those wines. I think that story has been written, its fading now.

What are some of the new frontiers in wine regions?  What should we all be looking out for?

I only see a small percentage of what’s going on out there, but from what I do see, there is there is a lot of development within Argentina and Eastern Europe. There are many regions that have been forgotten with time that we are seeing in a new light. Armenia is one where I am working; Armenia has varieties I can’t even pronounce, so we are starting from scratch there

I also see potential in Patagonia—we are making progress there but the weather is extreme.  We are learning to work with it: wind, frost, and heat with driving winds;  it’s like a blast furnace and yet it can be wonderful as well. It’s a matter of good vineyard management.

Which varietals are we overlooking these days?

Syrah--for some reason it suffers what happened to Merlot, and no one will buy it, unless it’s from France. Merlot is under-rated today as well. Both varietals were damaged by industry abuse, with so many poorly made versions, and the damage was done.

What is it like to make wine in Armenia?

Right now the challenge is finding and training people, at least in Argentina there was a winemaking culture. I can assure you, finding and training people is far more challenging than the terroir. Armenia is like going to the Dark Ages for winemaking, we have logistics issues as well as expertise and supply concerns. We just went ahead and built our own fermentation tanks—they don’t exist over there, nor is there anyone there who even knows how to make such a thing.

click here to read more:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiebell/2013/06/17/the-steve-jobs-of-wine-winemaker-paul-hobbs/

 
 
We have been assured by the Ag Commissioner, THUSD and a notice from Hobbs Winery that the only spraying to be done on the vineyard, after the potentially toxic conversion, will be wettable sulfur and round up.  We decided to pull the report (public records) for Hobbs vineyard pesticide usage from the last 4 years. Presented here, we will let the record speak for itself:
 
 
 
 

Will Parrish: Paul Hobbs & Ken Wilson — Wine Country’s Clearcutting Crooks
In Around Mendo IslandWill Parrish on June 17, 2011 at 7:21 am

http://ukiahcommunityblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/will-parrish-paul-hobbs-ken-wilson-—-wine-country’s-clearcutting-crooks/

From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville
TheAVA.com

Paul Hobbs, internationally renowned winemaker with headquarters in Sebastopol, is described in his web site biography as a “trailblazer” and “prospector.” Those are fitting designations, if not always in the ways his publicist intends. Formerly the winemaker at two of the most prestigious wineries in the country, Opus One and Simi, Hobbs currently “crafts” — to use the term of trade — numerous acclaimed vintages under his own self-titled label, also working as a consultant on 30-35 other wines at a given time, in as many as six countries spanning three continents. By advertising Hobbs’ association with their brand, those who hire him automatically see a boost in sales.

Kenneth C. Wilson, real estate capitalist and winemaker with headquarters in Healdsburg, is not the first person wine industry observers would typically associate with Hobbs. Whereas Hobbs is widely regarded for his winemaking artistry, as a veritable winemaker’s winemaker, Wilson is better known as an opportunistic investor. The latter has built his own “mini wine empire” — to quote Wines and Vines magazine —- across northern Sonoma and southern Mendocino counties in recent years, largely on the strength, it seems, of superior access to wealth.

Yet, the two men’s activities are closely linked, if only by a single factor: their zeal for deforestation. The practice of clear-cutting is common to vineyard development across the Central Coast, North Bay, and North Coast regions of California. The land clearances Hobbs and Wilson have conducted stand out, however, largely owing to an impressive feat: Each man ran afoul of the law, in spite of the preferential treatment the state and county regulatory apparatus has for so long bestowed on the wine industry.

During the end of April through the beginning of May, Hobbs oversaw a 10-acre clear-cut on a 160-acre parcel he owns in Pocket Canyon, just east of Guerneville, known as Hillick Ranch. The deforestation took place even though Hobbs had not established an erosion control plan nor set forth what portion of the property he would place in a conservation easement, as he was required to do under an agreement with the California Department of Forestry. He also had not bothered to obtain a grading permit or use permit from the County of Sonoma.

It appears that Hobbs had grown tired of waiting for the permitting process to play out, so therefore took a gamble that he would not face any punitive measures if he took matters into his own hands, speeding things along toward installing yet another parcel of grapes to source for his wines.

The clear-cut is in close proximity to Pocket Canyon Creek, where erosion would — and perhaps already did — further damage this fragile waterway, thereby only adding to the cumulative destruction activities of this sort have wrought on the Russian River basin, where the sight of a living fish grows increasingly rare. Owing to complaints by residents, a forester for the Sonoma-Napa-Lake unit of CalFire named Kimberly Sone came to the site and issued a stop-work order based on Hobbs’ failure to attain the adequate permits.

“CAL FIRE was not notified regarding the start up of timber operations as required by the Forest Practice Act,” Sone stated via e-mail. “After conducting a field inspection and reviewing the plan, I requested the Licensed Timber Operator and Registered Professional Forester to stop operations.”

She also stated, reassuringly, that “logs are on the ground and logging debris is still on-site, thereby reducing significant amounts of erosion.” That would seem to be a tacit acknowledgment, however, that some significant degree of erosion has either occurred or is in danger of occurring.

The Hillick Ranch clear-cut has even escalated into a rare instance of county officials being at odds with a vineyard developer. John Roberts, a member of the Sonoma County Water Coalition and the Atascadero-Green Valley Creek Watershed Council, is one of various West County residents who has been active in trying to put a halt to Hobbs’ clear-cutting. Roberts met with Sonoma County Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo on May 18th to provide him documentation on the environmental destruction Hobbs and other vineyard developers have wrought, as well as try to compel him to take action to rein in the star winemaker.

“Efren was aware of the situation and was able to say that based on the visit by officials, enforceable actions took place on the property,” Roberts says. “Since it is under investigation, he could say no more, except that he and many others are very unhappy with Hobbs.”

Hobbs’ action is especially significant because it is the first serious test of Sonoma County’s Timber Conversion Ordinance, which ostensibly governs felling of designated timber land to make way for winegrapes and other “agriculture.” The Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance in 2006. It requires that all timber-to-agriculture conversion projects set aside at least 75 percent of a given parcel in a conservation easement. That’s as opposed to an outright ban on such conversions, as regional environmentalists originally sought. The conservation easement provision is widely seen as having been shaped by Premier Pacific Vineyards, the massive vineyard development corporation run by the infamous William Hill and Richard Wollack, who are attempting to clear approximately 1,700 acres of forested land in the Gualala River basin, on a 20,000-acre parcel, to install miles of grapes.

Ironically, Hobbs has been in the spotlight across recent weeks not because of his precedent-setting Hillick Ranch clear-cut, but because of his court-sanctioned fleecing of Sebastopol neighbor John Jenkel. The saga has attracted a pair of stories in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, though the North Coast’s paper of record has failed to mention several significant details of the story, while framing others far too leniently toward Hobbs. Jenkel’s side of the story, though entirely absent from the pages of the PD, is worth considering in detail, particularly since it sheds considerable light on the sort of mindset that drives people like Hobbs, whose sense of entitlement seems to be so overwrought that it even surpasses his renown as a winemaker.

A grove of roughly 60 douglas firs stood adjacent to the property line shared by Hobbs and Jenkel just outside of Sebastopol. A few years ago, Hobbs drilled a well roughly 200′ from Jenkel’s existing well, presumably to nourish the thirsty grapes he had planted on the site. Jenkel had a sand filter installed by a pump co. that was supposed to purge itself on a periodic basis. Soon after Hobbs drilled his well, Jenkel’s well started drawing sand for the first time in its many years of service.

The filter malfunctioned, however, and water ran continuously for a few months, with the deluge seriously damaging the root systems of two trees on the Hobbs parcel and affecting six others. A tree blew down and clipped a corner of one of Hobbs’ buildings. Hobbs then took what was apparently, in his mind, the logical next step: he removed the entire grove of trees, claiming all of them were compromised . That’s in spite of the fact that Jenkel had already identified and corrected the malfunction in his pump.

Next, Hobbs sued Jenkel for the cost he incurred in removing the trees. Not only did the judge side with Hobbs, but the winemaker received a judgment of $360,000 — more than twice what he originally sought. Jenkel, who sought to defend himself in the case, is notoriously clumsy in court, making him easy picking for Hobbs. The winemaker has since poured a foundation 50 feet in length for future buildings exactly where the doug fir grove previously stood.

The story is especially intriguing given Jenkel’s notoriety around Sonoma County. The 72-year-old former San Francisco candy maker is perhaps best known for his bizarre rants at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meetings, where he can typically be heard touting implausible conspiracy theories, many of which center on former San Francisco Mayor and State Speaker of the Assembly Willie Brown. Jenkel accuses Brown, for instance, of being a mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

So far, Hobbs has purchased three out of Jenkel’s four Sonoma County properties at auction. He has obtained them for far below market value: $60,000 combined. Thus, Jenkel still owes Hobbs roughly $300,000. Ironically, this asset-stripping at the hands of Hobbs might qualify as exactly the sort of cold-blooded conspiracy Jenkel has so often accused various governmental factions of carrying out, except this time with an overzealous winemaker acting the part of Willie Brown, who Jenkel personally blames or having stripped him of a bus he formerly owned when he lived in San Francisco.

Even assuming he is not engaged in a cold-blooded conspiracy to take away Jenkel’s property, but instead was merely “defending” himself against a neighbor he labels as overly aggressive, Hobbs’ actions reveal a degree of ruthlessness that is considerably at odds with his image as an artisanal winemaker. For example, Hobbs could have elected to place a lien on the elderly Jenkel’s properties, collecting his more than $300,000 during probate, rather than stripping Jenkel of the parcels outright.

If nothing else, Hobbs has capitalized on the circumstances at hand. Naturally, he felled all of the trees that previously adorned the former Jenkel property off of Highway 116, sparking outrage from local residents. Hobbs is moving immediately to install grapes there, further expanding his ever-increasing wine fiefdom. The California Dept. of Forestry determined that the redwoods and doug Firs on the Jenkel property were landscape trees, so his felling of them was perfectly legal. Agriculture is exempt from California state laws governing Wild and Scenic Corridors.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Environmental and Consumer Protection division of the Sonoma County District Attorneys office will pursue an enforcement action against Hobbs. Calls to the Sonoma County DA’s office were nor returned as of press time. Environmental activists and local residents did meet last week with Ann Gallagher White, who heads the environmental protection division of the DA office. White reportedly promised to “look into it” but did not commit to taking action.
~

Ken Wilson, for his part, is no stranger to action by the DA in connection with his vineyard development schemes. He has the distinction of being the only such developer in Sonoma County ever sentenced to a jail term stemming from environmental damage he caused in the process of installing grapes. Wilson clear-cut forested land and removed the trees’ root systems across roughly 50 acres off Scagg Springs Rd., 13 miles west of Healdsburg, in 1997. The result was a mind-boggling 18,000 cubic foot landslide into House Creek, a tributary of the Gualala River, in early 1998. That figure comes courtesy of the Department of Fish and Game.

“It was an act of God coming in, the mountain slides down the hill and suddenly he is in the middle of a criminal case,” Wilson’s attorney, Chris Andrian, said at the time, referencing the run-off prompted by heavy winter rains.

Wilson served a 90-day suspended sentence for failing to perform erosion control on the site, also paying the largest fine ever in such a case — $50,000. But the penalties scarcely curbed his appetite for vineyard development, nor for deforestation. Three years later, Wilson was dubbed Farmer of the Year at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Across the last five years, in particular, his winery holdings have rapidly expanded — in spite of the sluggishness of the industry as a whole.

In 2009, Wilson applied to build a 20,000 case winery — a very large facility, in other words — and new tasting room in the Alexander Valley, on a parcel that he has already deforested large portions of, installing terraced vineyard blocks. The parcel is located at 19,583 Geyserville Ave., across from the River Rock Casino. In coming weeks, the proposed new buildings will come up for review at a meeting by the Sonoma County Permit and Resources Management Department’s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). Nearly all such proposals are subject to little more than a rubber stamp by the BZA, members of which are appointed by the county’s perennially wine-friendly supervisors.

As one of Wilson’s neighbors wrote in an e-mail circulated in mid-May, “They’ve already cut down several 100+ foot coastal redwoods while clearing for a terraced vineyard. The parcel contains many thousands of mature large redwoods, firs, oaks and madrones. In order to squeeze in such a large facility, our concern is that they will cut many more trees.”

Strangely, the Wilsons received a $10 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration’s stimulus bill, aka the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to help fund their various vineyard and winery expansions — including the one currently slated to occur in the Alexander Valley. Specifically, the investment came courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture, which doled out a portion of the Stimulus Act funds. It was the second largest loan guarantee the USDA issued as part of that particular round of stimulus funding, with only an agribusiness outfit in American Samoa receiving more.

According to the USDA press release in connection with the loan, “The funds are targeted to create and retain quality jobs and serve difficult-to-reach populations and areas hardest hit by the economic downturn,” a classification which hardly seems to apply to Wilson’s vineyards.

The May 2009 edition of the lifestyle magazine Wines & Vines said thus of the Wilsons’ budding vineyard and winery portfolio: “Their collection of wine properties brings to mind Jess Jackson’s penchant for acquiring family-owned and boutique wineries.”

Wilson is not only a major investor in the wine industry. He also owns a famous building at Pt. Reyes, in the coastal town of Inverness, West Marin County, called the Grandi Building. Wilson is controversial around West Marin for attempting to develop the mixed-use, brick building — a historic landmark — into a trendy, even more upscale hotel. According to a source who has had close contact with Wilson, his fortune derives from the Wilson Sporting Goods family, which also ran one of the largest Chicago meatpacking operations around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century.

Wilson not only owns five vineyard and winery parcels across Sonoma County, but also one of the most prominent winery and vineyard estate in the Ukiah Valley: Jaxon Keys, located right off of Highway 101 north of Hopland. It is one of those Wine Country properties that closely reflects the ties between the wine industry and other extravagant financial interests. The property was first developed by Georgia banking mogul Robert S. Jepson in 1985. Jepson was bought out by the investment group Dbon Mendocino, LLC, in 2005, the latter being backed by the enormous New York City investment firm Fortress Investment Group — one of the most controversial firms on Wall St., which has roughly $42 billion currently under management.

The hedge fund moguls at Fortress purchased the property with the intention both of renovating the winery and developing a series of subdivisions across several hundred of the roughly 1,000 acres, essentially as part of a bid to convert Hopland into a popular homebase for the sorts of people whose ideal homebase is a hyper-gentrified portion of rural Wine Country. Fortress lost patience with this plan in the wake of the real estate market collapse in 2008, however, selling the parcel to Wilson. Mendonesians, be forewarned: if the Wilsons’ record is any indication, they may soon develop the remaining acres on this site, deforesting as they go — ironically, it seems, enabled by funding from Barack Obama’s famous stimulus bill.
~

The fact that Obama administration would bestow so much largess on one of Sonoma County’s foremost scofflaw vinters is telling.  Destructive vineyard developers are rarely held accountable for the destruction they cause.  In many cases, they are only rewarded.  The most destructive companies, whether they be part of the wine industry or any other field of extractive enterprise, are also most often the wealthiest and best connected.  It is one of the present economic system’s fatal flaws that it systematically rewards sociopathic behavior.

On a smaller scale, this permissive culture surrounding anything the wine industry does is precisely why Paul Hobbs took a gamble with his unauthorized clear-cut.  He knows the odds are he will never be penalized.  Unfortunately, the North Coast wine industry, as I’ve described in over a dozen articles across recent months, did not grow so huge, nor has it caused so much ecological and human wreckage, because the regulatory system is designed to limit its activities in any significant way.
~~

 
 

Local Winemaker Under Fire in Sonoma County

by Alastair Bland on Dec 07, 2011

Oenophiles who consume $230 magnums at Silicon Valley’s top restaurants may be unaware that one “rock star” winemaker currently finds himself in hot water.

This past October, in a rare instance of a local politician speaking out publicly against a member of the North Bay’s influential winemaking community, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo lambasted winemaker Paul Hobbs for uprooting hundreds of trees in Sebastopol and adding one more open wound to a Russian River watershed already impacted by erosion and sediment. According to several Silicon Valley sommeliers, Paul Hobbs wines are among the most popular in the area’s top-tier restaurants.

Carrillo called Hobbs “one bad apple,” and noted that the globally renowned maker of high-end wines hadn’t bothered to acquire a permit to remove the trees, part of an old Christmas tree farm, which Hobbs is planning to buy and convert to vines.

It was one of three instances this year in which Hobbs has cut down trees to the dismay of onlookers. He leveled 10 acres in Pocket Canyon just east of Guerneville, and eight acres of redwood trees along Highway 116 on land acquired in a court settlement from his neighbor, John Jenkel.

“Paul Hobbs has shown a blatant disregard for Sonoma County, its resources, his fellow vintners and community sentiment,” Carrillo declared in an editorial printed in the Sonoma County Gazette.

All of this comes as a shock to Bert George, an industry expert of more than three decades and owner of one of San Jose’s most popular wine vendors, Joseph George Wine Shop.

“I would think clear-cutting happened back in the ‘50s, when people didn’t care. But people are so environmentally aware that I couldn’t imagine them doing anything like that,” George says. “We’ve sold Paul’s wines for probably 20 years. He’s not only a personal friend; he’s one of the best winemakers in the United States. He’s a rock star.

“If you’ve ever talked to Paul or met him, that’s not acceptable in the wine business. That just doesn’t go on.”

But environmentalists believe that Carrillo’s outburst over Hobbs’ actions needs to be echoed 100 times over. To Jim Doerksen, who has lived in the Mayacamas Mountains for 44 years and has watched local streams sucked dry as wineries near his property have been built, Carrillo’s words on Hobbs only amplify the silence that nearly all Sonoma County officials have kept toward the local wine industry through years of alleged environmental abuse.

“Efren said Hobbs is ‘one bad apple,’” Doerksen says, “but all we have are bad apples.”

Doerksen points straight to his neighbors, whom he charges with illegally cutting down about 60 acres of conifers to plant vineyards.

“These guys at Pride and Cornell [vineyards] are doing way worse things than Hobbs, but no one can see what they’re doing because they’re way up here in the mountains,” Doerksen explains. “Hobbs was right on Highway 116. Everyone saw the trees coming down. Efren had to say something.”

Carrillo tells Metro that Hobbs, who did not respond to requests for comment, showed defiance of law that mandated an objection. “My reaction was just my response to anyone not following policies that we have in place,” Carrillo says.

But do Silicon Valley wine connoisseurs really care? Josh Weeks, owner of the Michelin-starred Plumed Horse restaurant in Saratoga, which boasts one of the most impressive wine selections in all of California, says his patrons are more concerned with the experience of their meal and wine than pairing their appetites with activism.

“Even if a couple do know about [clear-cutting], it’s nothing that’s somebody asks about or mentions,” Weeks says. “I’m an experience-oriented restaurant. ... I’m not saying that if [winemakers] are fertilizing with baby seals that customers would still be buying it, but it’s not really a big deal.”

Living Sponge

Conversion of forestland to vineyards is tremendously destructive, according to Chris Poehlmann, director of Friends of the Gualala River. The activity, he explains, is even more harmful to a forest than clear-cutting; planting a vineyard requires permanently or indefinitely eliminating the forest as well as the soil, precluding any foreseeable opportunity for second-growth trees.

The ecosystem from the treetops to the roots is annihilated as the stumps are bulldozed and the remaining forest detritus and topsoil scraped away, flattening the earth’s surface and readying it for vines.

“The forest is like a living sponge that slowly drains water collected during the winter into the streams and keeps fish alive,” Poehlmann says. “When you scalp these mountainsides and turn the mountain into a bald bowling ball, that effect is gone, and you have nothing but a biological desert.” Without the stabilizing effect of tree roots, rain water gushes down such uprooted slopes like rapids down a waterslide, and erosion can be severe.

But land-use and environmental lawyer Eric Koenigshofer, who is employed by the Preservation Ranch project, which, if approved, would clear 1,769 acres of second-growth redwood trees in the upper reaches of Sonoma County’s Gualala River for 1,100 acres of vineyards, says that careful management can amount to an overall benefit to local ecosystems.

Of the 300 miles of roads already extant on the Preservation Ranch site, the project proposes to put only 100 miles of them into use while reverting the other 200 miles into woodland, Koenigshofer says. Along the roads designated for use, the antiquated systems of ditches and culverts, which can exacerbate erosion, will be eliminated. The vineyards, he says, will be planted well within the slope-steepness limits defined by county grading laws.

While Preservation Ranch is 43 times bigger than the county’s largest-ever permitted timberland conversion on record—a 41-acre plot owned by Kendall-Jackson, approved for cutting in 1997— “it’s also the largest privately funded land-preservation project that has ever been put in place here,” Koenigshofer says.

Some environmentalists say that legal lenience toward the Sonoma County wine industry can be traced back to the 1970s, when the threat of suburban sprawl spilling off the Highway 101 corridor was staunched by amendments to county code. Those amendments gave agricultural lands legal precedence in the fight to survive. Today, that agricultural land has become mostly vineyard land.

But the outlook for forest conservationists could be improving in Sonoma County. The timber conversion ordinance of 2006 appears to have had an effect in slowing the crawl of vines into the county’s wooded hill country. From 1979 to 2006, 25 conversions of timberland to agriculture occurred, amounting to 21 acres per year. Thirteen of those projects occurred in the grape-crazy years from 2001 to 2006, but all legal timbering activity abruptly stopped with the new ordinance in place. No officials could estimate for Metro how common illegal timber removal is in Sonoma County.

Preservation Ranch is advancing along the lines of the law, but the fact that its size amounts to three times the area of all Sonoma County timberland ever converted into agriculture—573 acres—strikes dread in conservationists.

“In the old days, farming meant growing food or fiber, things to be eaten or things to be turned into clothing,” observes Stephen Fuller-Rowell, a co-founder of the Sonoma County Water Coalition. “Now, a main product of farming here is alcohol.”

Josh Koehn contributed to this report.




http://www.sanjose.com/news/2011/12/07/local_winemaker_under_fire_in_sonoma_county
 
 

and our (Watertrough Children's Alliance) response since there has been none from THUSD

FAQ
Q: Who owns the apple orchard located at 622 Watertrough Road?
A: Paul Hobbs Winery purchased the ailing apple orchard at 622 Watertrough Road in the winter of 2012/2013.  Paul Hobbs Winery is a small, family owned winery based in Sebastopol.

FACT
Paul Hobbs winery is a multi-national alcohol company, working as a consultant on 30-35 other wines at a given time, in as many as six countries spanning three continents. Here is an article about his projects impacts on our land http://theava.com/archives/11113   
Supervisor Efren Carrillo came out against Hobbs in the Sonoma County Gazette, (http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2011/10/county/tree-clear-cut-sparks-vineyard-conversion-furor/ )saying: Paul Hobbs has shown a blatant disregard for Sonoma County, its resources, his fellow vintners and community...


Q: What are the plans for the property?
A: The property will be planted to vineyard.  In the spring and summer of 2013, the apple trees will be removed, and roots will be excavated manually. Soils will be amended with compost and green manure and cover crops, including fava beans, sweet peas and mustard, will be planted.  In the spring of 2014 vines will be planted on approximately 30 acres.  A row of organically farmed apple trees will be planted between Apple Blossom and Orchard View Schools and the vineyard. 

FACT
We have learned from the Agricultural Commissioner that Paul Hobbs has no intentions of being having an Organic Vineyard in any form.  His conversion process has been mapped out to the officials as being the same burn, churn and kill the soil process that is generally used in conventional farming practices these days.(Not a direct quote of course form the Ag Commissioner).  If he IS planning on amending the soil here, this will be the first time he has used these practices and cover crops as this does not exist in his many other vineyards.
 

Q: What are your farming practices?
A: We farm our vineyards sustainably.  Our sustainable farming practices include: 
Permanent cover crops include sweet peas, fava beans, mustard and clover
Amending soil with compost and green manure
Spray wet sulpher  â€"  to minimize frequency of spraying (organic material)
Water conservation plans
Energy efficiency practices
To learn more about sustainable vineyard management practices, visit: 
http://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/docs/2009%20Sustainability%20Report_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

FACT
Paul Hobs Winery is NOT a certified california sustainable wine grower. Nor does he practice sustainable farming at his current locations.


Q: Will you be spraying during school hours?
A: The vineyard will be sprayed much less often and with much more earth friendly materials as compared to the existing apple orchard.  The winery will coordinate with neighboring schools to spray during non-school hours.  

FACT
Hobbs Winery current practices are in no way aligned with any sustainable farming practices per pesticide use reports from the agricultural commissioners records dept. Please see the post related to these facts, Hobbs pesticide use is public record.


FACT
Current orchard at 622 Watertrough has decreased substantially since 1991 (via Agricultural Pesticide Use Web Mapping Service on California Dept of Public Health website http://www.ehib.org/tool.jsp?tool_key=18#dpr)



Tara Sharp
Marketing & Public Relations Manager
tsharp@paulhobbs.com