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March 2, 2013 | 11:00 AM

In Saturday's Press Democrat story, Brett Wilkison reports:

Sonoma County wine industry representatives and grape growers are voicing some relief over news this week of the a tentative conservation deal that would shield nearly 20,000 acres in northwestern Sonoma County from a disputed forest-to-vineyard conversion project. The large proposal called for clearing almost 1,800 acres of former commercial timberland to grow premium pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. Industry officials said it could have flooded the market, crowding out small-scale area growers...

...The project's environmental risks — it was called the largest forest conversion for agriculture in modern state history — and the resulting blowback for vintners and growers were serious issues, they said.

Duff Bevill, founder of Bevill Vineyard Management, said:

“All it takes is one mistake and the entire industry gets a black eye. You want to support agriculture, but this was a tough one. The good news is that it has resolved itself.”

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