Converting Forests to Vineyards

The ongoing search for new vineyard lands especially in cooler coastal growing regions continues to eye lands that are currently forested with trees. The tension between keeping the land in forest and financial gains from vineyards has boiled up over the last 15 years in the Russian River and surrounding watersheds. Recently the Sonoma County Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance was updated to provide greater protection for existing forests and ultimately protect water quality and fish habitat while allowing some new development.

Press Democrat Article 4/24/12: Sonoma County Adopts Hillside Vineyard Restrictions

Article Spring 2012: Forest-to-Vineyards SSU student report

Also learn more about the process to regulate water quality from farms on the North Coast.

A small sampling of the problems with timber to vineyard conversions:

“Deforestation of watershed lands for vineyard development has increased water temperature and sediment loading, and decreased instream flows, all of which degrade habitat and aggravate the existing impairment of Coho and Steelhead. Long term vineyard operation on these lands in turn increases runoff of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals into these streams, further degrading water quality and fish habitat…ongoing elimination of forest land in this area from forest-to-vineyard conversion activities has restricted the already truncated the range of the northern spotted owl, both through direct loss of existing forest land and the increased fragmentation of remaining forest habitat.”

Tractor Clearing Forest

Forest to Vineyard

An excellent article on the issue:
Who Needs Trees When You Can Have Grapes? Timber to Vineyard Conversions

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