California Vineyard

Big Wine Fails To Dry Farm During California’s Relentless Drought – Shepherd Bliss

(Sonoma County, in the heart of California’s Redwood Empire): California Governor Jerry Brown spent this year’s Earth Day at the elite Iron Horse Winery in the Sebastopol countryside. It was a great photo opportunity and promotion for the winery. Iron Horse is known for donations to President Bill Clinton and other politicians, with whom it has cozy relationships, and from whom it receives favors, such as these visits. I operate a small berry and apple farm nearby and teach sustainable agriculture, mainly to college students.

“Hope Amid Drought” headlined the April 20 pro-wine industry daily Press Democrat’s (PD) report on this winery event of some 200 people. “Brown says innovation, efficiency will get state through water shortage,” the article notes. Iron Horse Vineyards CEO Joy Sterling “said the 300-acre winery…epitomized the environmental stewardship honored on Earth Day.” She spoke about their “love of the land.”

But wait. What about water usage, the theme of Gov. Brown’s talk? The previous day the PD published the commentary “Why We Don’t Dry Farm Grapes.” Its author? Iron Horse’s Laurence Sterling.

It’s hypocritical for Gov. Brown to mandate that the rest of us reduce water use by 25%, except for his friends in Big Ag and Big Wine. It’s called “green washing.” Or as we used to say, bluntly, on our Iowa family farms when we went out to clean the cute piglets, “hogwash.”

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