Trees or Vino: Here’s a True Conundrum

treesIt’s easy for me to work myself into a rage when I read stories about forests being chopped down to make way for yet another strip mall or cookie-cutter subdivision. But I just came across a tough one. Louis Sahagun and P.J. Huffstutter at the Los Angeles Times report that:

Two wineries want to removeĀ  redwood and Douglas fir trees in order to plant Pinot Noir vineyards.

Hmmm… I love trees, but I also love wine. And it’s not like vineyards are a scourge on the landscape: they can be every bit as pleasing to the senses as towering evergreens.vineyards

But why do these wineries (Codorniu, whose Napa property Artesa happens to be one of our favorite winery destinations, and Premier Pacific Vineyards) want to plant on this particular patch of ground? Can’t they go dig up a cow pasture somewhere?

No, they can’t. As Nature would have it, land that’s capable of growing those beautiful trees also grows beautiful Pinot Noir grapes. Situated just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the land is cooled by ocean breezes, and Pinot Noir is a cool-loving grape. The land also sits above the fog line, so there’s plenty of direct sunlight to ripen the grapes. And for the punch line, this area near Annapolis on the northern edge of Sonoma County is part of the desirable Sonoma Coast appellation. Pinots made from Sonoma Coast fruit have an intense, structured style that’s been adding dollar value in the marketplace.

So is that worth chopping down centuries-old trees? Well, the truth is that this a second-growth forest, replanted after the virgin forest was logged many years ago. Its value isn’t its venerable old age, but all the good things that forest lands do for the environment.

Environmentalists say, “”We are not going to let them rip these trees out by their roots, change the soil chemistry with amendments and develop neighborhoods so that these forests will never grow back.”

The developers, on the other hand, have promised to “restore streams, add more than 200 acres to a county park, plant 1 million redwoods and Douglas firs and make other environmental improvements.”

So who should get the nod? Should we go with pine cones or Pinot Noir?

Let me know which way you vote, and Cheers!


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