Napa County supervisors reject appeal of Walt Ranch project

The board voted by a 3-2 against the Center for Biological Diversity’s appeal.|

The Napa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected an environmental group’s appeal over a contentious vineyard development project backed by Craig and Kathryn Hall, owners of the Hall and Walt wine labels.

The board voted 3-2 against the Center for Biological Diversity’s appeal. The groups challenged administrative approval of a plan to mitigate the removal of 14,000 trees for the Walt Ranch development and its effect on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The project currently consisting of 209 vineyard acres on 316 overall acres. It was originally proposed in 2008 and has been mired in legal and administrative battles since the unveiling.

“The supervisors could’ve and should’ve required a lot more from Walt Ranch developers. Instead, the community will have to suffer from the harmful effects of losing thousands of trees for new vineyards,” said Ross Middlemiss, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It didn’t have to be this way. This destructive method of developing Napa is clearly unsustainable.”

The board will consider the revised plan at its Feb. 8 hearing.

New Healdsburg wine festival to be held in May

A new wine festival in Healdsburg will be held in May to help highlight the region’s local grape growers and the wines that are produced from the fruit.

The inaugural Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience will take place from May 20-22. It is sponsored by SD Media Productions in conjunction with the Sonoma County Winegrowers trade group.

The participating chefs include Maneet Chauhan from the show “Chopped,”; Stephanie Izard from “Iron Chef,” and California chef-restauranteur Nyesha Arrington.

A country music concert will be held at Rodney Strong Vineyards on Saturday evening, benefiting Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation.

General admission tickets start at $200 per person and will be available in January. For more information visit:

Allied Grape Growers add new support official

The Allied Grape Growers have appointed Pam Bond as its North Coast operations support official.

In her new role, Bond will work closely with the group’s regional manager and other personnel to provide administrative support. The Allied Grape Growers are a grower-owned marketing group that represents about 150 farmers in the region.

Bond previously worked for Swanson Vineyards and Winery in Oakville as director of vineyard and estate operations from 2010 to 2020 and as assistant vineyard manager from 2002 to 2010.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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