Paul Hobbs Set to Overcome Sonoma DA Challenge
August 15, 2014
Sebastopol, Calif. - Winemaker Paul Hobbs expressed confidence that his strong record of environmental stewardship and responsible vineyard development will merit a clear victory over a civil complaint brought by the Sonoma County District Attorney.
“We believe the District Attorney’s charges, and wildly inflated civil penalties reported in the press, are misleading the public--as we have an excellent record of preserving and protecting the environment,” said Hobbs spokesperson Christopher O’Gorman. “We look forward to setting the record straight in a court of law.”
Hobbs, who has participated in dozens of vineyard projects all over the globe, has been facing recent challenges to his farming in Sonoma County, where he has been making wine for almost 30 years. The District Attorney’s complaint centers on alleged instances, some dating back many years, on three properties: a former tree farm in Sebastopol, a property called Hillick Ranch near Guerneville, and another property in Sebastopol known as Watertrough.
Hobbs has taken voluntary action at two of the three properties to address community concerns, implementing costly environmental restoration projects, building a fence to ameliorate worries about dust, downsizing a proposed vineyard and placing 117 acres of redwoods into an open space easement along with a $175,750 endowment to fund it. Hobbs’s actions were remarkable as they represented an estimated seven-figure depreciation of the value of the land without any guarantee that grapes would ever be allowed to grow on the property. Sonoma County Supervisors called Hobbs’s open space agreement “unprecedented.”
One of the properties named in the complaint, Davis Tree Farm, is now a productive vineyard after the California Department of Forestry fully supported Hobbs, stating that no violation had been committed. Further, the Sonoma County Sheriff thanked Hobbs for cleaning out the area of the rampant drug use, and other illegal activity taking place there prior to his ownership.
“Paul is a devoted environmentalist, a champion of protecting the Earth through sustainable farming, and a very experienced vineyard professional,” said O’Gorman. “We are confident that any judge who understands the circumstances of these alleged violations will reach a conclusion that is favorable for us.”
Ironically, Paul Hobbs Wines is currently leading a separate legal battle to protect the Sonoma County laws that set strict standards for environmentally responsible vineyard development. Those laws were years in the making and are being attacked by special interest groups who have vowed to have them invalidated. Hobbs looks forward to resolving both matters and returning his focus to making world-class wines.
Contact: Christopher O’Gorman
Phone: 707.824.9879 ext 22
14 August 2014
For Immediate Release: