NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Environmentalists in California Fight "Vineyard Sprawl"

October 23, 2002

One might think that growing grapes to make wine might be among the world's least objectionable uses for land. But environmental groups in California -- which produces 90 percent of the country's wine -- find it obnoxious.

  • Charging that the wine makers are wasting precious resources and despoiling the landscape with "vineyard sprawl," environmentalists are trying to rein in the industry -- and some of their efforts are bearing fruit.
  • About two years ago, Napa Valley officials enacted an ordinance restricting vineyard expansion.
  • Elsewhere in the state, activists have fought vineyards on the basis that they use pesticides and produce excess waste.
  • Vineyard interests appear to be knuckling under to the attacks -- with the state's Wine Institute trade group and the California Association of Winegrape Growers now about to adopt a code of "sustainable" practices, which includes sharply limiting water intake.

Trying to avoid mandatory state regulation, some vintners see positive aspects in parts of the 360-page code workbook -- particularly sections relating to water conservation. But the environmentalists still complain that the code doesn't go far enough in the area of curbing "vineyard sprawl."

Source: Jim Carleton, "Conservationists Try to Stem California's 'Vineyard Sprawl'," Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2002.

For WSJ text


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues