USA (California) – The Californian Malibu Coast AVA is just one year old but the local producers are still arguing at court about the right to lay out new vineyards. “Could this be a defiant phase?” Christy Canterbury MW asks in a Decanter article. The vintners have at least achieved that one case after the other is decided at court. Moreover, half of the requests was approved. The admission examination process for new plantings was shortened from ten to four months. “This is at least a partial victory”, Ms. Canterbury resumes.
The planting bans, by which some producers were hit hard, were imposed as early as six week after the Malibu Coast AVA was born. “It was a shock”, the vintners affected say. The reason for the dilemma is that Los Angeles County had defined the approval procedure to ten months so as to study the effects of new plantings. Questions like soil erosion, water consumption, and concerns of the habitat are on top of the agenda.
This was followed by a lobby campaign which targeted at providing information for the authorities and discussing with the authorities. The topics of the campaign were physiology of the vine, sustainable planting methods, and – analogously to the questions of the authorities – soil erosion and water consumption. The main argument of the campaign was that vines spread their roots in the soil, thus, counteracting erosion, and that vines do not need much water. The campaign must step by step have had an effect in the heads of the officials because most recently the authority proposed a compromise which the producers accepted unanimously.
As from now, new plantings are still restricted but the vintners are considering these restrictions as marginal. The watering of the vineyards is connected to the municipal water system instead of sinking a well. Only drip irrigation is allowed. New plantings are allowed on slopes which are in danger of erosion, and the vineyards are allowed to laid out on slopes with a gradient of 50 percent or less only. “The vintners can cope with that”, John Gooden (Montage Vineyards), president of Malibu Coast Vintners and Grape Growers Alliance, and Dan Fredman, their spokesman.
For the moment, there is peace in the new Malibu Coast AVA, which belongs to the of Los Angeles County territory. Current environmental studies will be finished by the end of the year. Then the controlling authority together with the producers will have a look at it and – hopefully – not go over the vintners’ heads. (red.yoopress)
*AVA (wine growing area with protected appellation of origin)