Friday, April 18, 2003

You can't make this stuff up
Rich Lowry at - A new wine from enviros:
So many Americans are engaged in a boycott of French wine at the moment that some French importers are pressuring President Jacques Chirac to cry Uncle (Sam). But environmentalists, as ever, have different priorities than the rest of the country: They are busy protesting Napa Valley wine.

The picturesque trellised fields there make most people, especially anyone with a taste for cabernet, consider Northern California closer to heaven than any place on Earth since Eden. But the fields are maligned by greens as "alcohol farms," the environmentally catastrophic result of "the graping of the land."

Now, there's something amusing about sensitive liberals in one of the world's great bastions of progressive thinking warring among themselves. The stereotypical Northern California vineyard owner is a wealthy yuppie who appreciates the outdoors and the finer things and wants to live within an hour's drive of San Francisco, the Left Coast's left-most city. It must be discomfiting for him suddenly to be considered no better than a smoke-belching coal-plant operator.
He's picking, I'm grinning.
As the wine industry has boomed in Northern California in recent years (fueled by annoying Internet millionaires), an important shift in perception has taken place. Vineyards were once viewed as an alternative to tract housing and other nasty development, but now are themselves seen as nasty development.

That makes them vulnerable to every tool of harassment in the environmentalist arsenal: numerous lawsuits (the Sierra Club has sued the local government and growers), zealously applied federal regulations and ever-tightening local land-use and permitting rules.
"It has become a very involved legal, scientific and technical process that stretches over months and maybe years. It renders many properties potentially uncommercial," says Christopher Hermann, who heads the West Coast law firm Stoel Rives' wine-law group. (Yes, there is such a thing -- without it, unfortunately, vineyards wouldn't stand a chance.)

For vineyard opponents, putting property out of commission is the point. Some critics have taken to calling the growers "merchants of death," as if they're selling crack.
Typical ecoweenie "back to mud huts" tomfoolery, but I have to smile that they are pulling this on their N. California pals. Maybe some of the vineyard owners even drive SUV's! The Horror!