Opponents file lawsuits over Artesa vineyard project
by Brett Wilkison|
June 7, 2012
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Three environmental groups sued the state and a Spanish wine conglomerate on Thursday over approval of a hotly disputed vineyard project in northwest Sonoma County.
The groups oppose plans by Artesa Vineyards and Winery of Napa, owned by the Spanish wine giant Grupo Codorniu, to clear about 150 acres of second-growth forest and former orchard land outside of Annapolis to grow chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.
The project, on the drawing board for more than a decade and under state review since 2009, was approved by state forestry officials in May over the objections of environmental interests and several Indian tribes.
Starcross Community, a neighboring monastic order which opposed elements of the vineyard plan, also filed a lawsuit Thursday in Sonoma County Superior Court.
The environmental challenge, brought by Friends of the Gualala River, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, a national organization with offices in San Francisco, seeks to set aside the state approval and halt all work on the project.
They claim Cal Fire, the state forestry agency, failed to properly assess the project's impacts on water quality and wildlife, including struggling steelhead and salmon stocks in the Gualala River.
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Opponents file lawsuits over
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