Napa County residents to vote on new vineyard curbs

Napa County voters will go to the polls on June 5 to decide whether to curtail new vineyard development by providing greater protection to watersheds and oak woodlands.

The county’s Board of Supervisors placed the initiative, known as Measure C, on the ballot after proponents gathered enough signatures to qualify. Community activists support the measure, while wine industry groups have raised objections.

The measure would allow up to 795 acres of oak woodlands to be removed around hills and mountains of the county, starting the count from September 2017. Landowners would need a special permit to cut down such trees beyond that level. New vineyards would not qualify as a reason for the permits to be granted.

It also would establish new standards for buffers near streams, prohibiting tree removal from 25 to up to 150 feet from the water, depending on the wetland area. Dead or dying trees would be provided an exception.

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Steele Wines appoints new assistant winemaker

Kathryn Finn has been appointed as assistant winemaker for Steele Wines in Kelseyville.

Finn started at the Lake County winery as a lab assistant July 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in biological science from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in environmental resource management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

She also has worked as a senior research specialist at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and later as a viticulture intern at Conn Creek Winery in St. Helena.

The winery is owned by Jed Steele, who started making wine at Stony Hill Winery in 1968. He worked at Edmeades Winery in Mendocino County for eight years, then became head winemaker at Kendall-Jackson. He started Steele Winery in 1991.

“Having over 50 years of winemaking experience, Jed Steele has defined many aspects of California’s wine history. And on a personal level, Jed’s winery is heavily spotted with strong, opinionated women and I am proud to be one of them,” Finn said in a statement.

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Petaluma Gap wine labels reach marketplace

Local vintners have started selling their wines with labels indicating their grapes came from the Petaluma Gap region, which became a certified American Viticultural Area late last year.

The first day vintners could submit labels to the Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau was Jan. 8 for approval.

The local wineries that plan to sell wines with the Petaluma Gap designation include Azari, Adobe Road, Bruliam, Cline Cellars, DeLoach, Fogline, Kendric, McEvoy Ranch, Pfendler, Ramey and Trombetta, according to the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance trade group.

DeLoach plans to market some of its Petaluma Gap wine with a Marin County label as well. The Petaluma Gap is the first non-regional AVA within the Marin County borders. It also overlaps some into Sonoma County.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.