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Valley People (Apr 6, 2016)


Greenwood Ridge Vineyards 2.0

Alan Green, Proprietor of Greenwood Ridge Vineyards 1.0 writes:

Looking back, it doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been in the wine business for more than forty years, but it’s true. Recently, since I don’t have kids to take over, I’ve been trying to find someone to continue what I’ve worked to build over the years. Now I think I have. I am pleased to be able to pass the reins over to Ken Wilson and his family and staff.

The Wilson family is known throughout Sonoma County for their small, artisan wineries, which produce award-winning wines with loyal followings. In addition to Diane and Ken, their three children, Sydney, Victoria, and Sawyer, are involved in all areas of running the company. As a family-run operation, I am confident they will honor the legacy of Greenwood Ridge Vineyards and our reputation for producing high-quality, award-winning wines representative of Anderson Valley.

As the new owners of the Greenwood Ridge Vineyards brand and tasting room, the Wilson family will carry on and enhance the much-loved traditions of our winery. The property on Greenwood Ridge remains in my family—my brother Frank now owns and operates the vineyard in addition to his fine furniture business.

I’d like to thank everyone for their many years of support for our wines and events such as the California Wine Tasting Championships, Wine Pairing Championships, and a myriad of winemaker dinners. By everyone I mean our loyal customers, suppliers, friends, neighbors and family (especially my wife Marianna). I can’t think of better way to spend forty years than in the wine business in Anderson Valley, and I will miss all of you, my co-conspirators.

Fortunately Elaine and Nancy will be staying on. I’m not going anywhere, so I’ll be here to advise and assist if needed. In case you’re concerned that I might not have enough to do now, please rest assured. I’ve just signed a contract with a publisher for another book, this one on my father’s architectural work. And it’s a new baseball season for the Dragons…

See you at the Wine Pairing Championships on August 13!

Allan Green, Lame Duck Vintner-in-Chief, Philo

DAVE SEVERN DISCLOSES THE PRICE: "At a $1.10 per thousand the $1,100 on the recorded grant deed covering the sale of Greenwood Ridge Vineyards tasting room would indicate it was a million dollar deal. Not bad for a 6.9-acre parcel. And not bad for Alan Green the man behind the wine. A good guy, I might add, and not of the colonizing, empire building species we see in droves coming to the Valley. Alan is retiring to play golf and do a little writing. Good for him.

"THE FOLKS HE SOLD TO on the other hand are into expanding their wealth beyond their needs for a comfortable life. Kenneth Wilson and Diane Nolan already have a lucrative wine business in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, that they established in 1993. In 2009 they bought 1,222 acres of Hopland Russian River land for $4.5 million. In December of 2014 they bought the 20 acres on Holmes Ranch Road originally developed by the famous, late blind winemaker, Larry Parsons. As with all of the other non-resident vintners they will extract what they can from our Valley with little consideration to community or environment. I suspect there have been other insults outside of my County records limited periscope, but what we have here is enough to place them well within the contemporary ruling class and certainly not likely to vote for Bernie Sanders.

Ken & Diane Wilson
Ken & Diane Wilson

SEVERN CONTINUES: "While I was sitting at the computer over at the County Recorder's office I thought I would look up the Stuart Bewley mentioned in last week's Off The Record as having a vineyard in the remote hills of Laytonville. A lengthy New York Times article extolled the man as some kind of titan of environmentally sound practices on the 6,000 acres he plays with there. In the article he equates environment with “terroir” and states “he grows” timber to sequester carbon — going on to mention that he sells “carbon offset certificates” to businesses so that they can meet legal environmental goals.

Gag me with a spoon. The trees grow themselves and he makes money off of that by allowing other businesses to pollute the atmosphere.


"ANYWAY, what I discovered is that besides the Laytonville digs Monsieur Bewley owns 2,625 acres of timberland along Mountain View Road outside of Boonville, has a summer house in Mendocino and lives in Belvedere/Tiburon. He and his wife, D. Motluk, maintain a sparse charitable foundation worth $76,000 — up $20,000 from last year. I think they donate to the Mendo theater troupe."

THE NAVARRO RIVER is dropping fast. Without more rain it'll probably close soon where it once ran free into the Pacific until deep into the summer months. A contemporary river watcher says the bar at the mouth is mostly sand being tossed up by waves, not the silt most of us assume while we also assume that the now-rapid drops in the river are caused by more and more upstream diversions. Our investigator says, "My guess is there is a shallow shelf of rock offshore which harbors all the sand and silt and small rocks that keep trying to close the mouth. Throw in the drought, along with all these other factors, and you've got a struggling river. When I examine the makeup of the beach at Navarro mouth, it seems to be made up more of sand and small pebbles, rather than silt."

Navarro mouth, 1 April 2016
Navarro mouth, 1 April 2016

ON THE SUBJECT of water, locals are saying that despite the healthy rainfall we've enjoyed so far this year, our aquifers haven't re-charged to pre-drought levels, that not enough rainfall has fallen to really, really soak in to raise our water tables. Case in point, that ancient spring on Mountain View Road where lots of us have gotten our drinking water for so many years? It's barely dribbling out of the pipe. Prior to the drought, water gushed outta there.

THE DEPARTED KZYX team — Coate, Aigner and Culbertson — walked out the door with a very large payout in self-alleged accrued sick leave, vacation time and please don't say overtime, but the figure I'm hearing is around $76,000. No wonder Coate and his doppelganger, Campbell, didn't want anybody looking at the books.

Coate, Aigner, Culbertson
Coate, Aigner, Culbertson

AV WINEGROWERS’ EMPTY CLAIMS “…Mendocino County is the only county in California to require a permit for the installation of wind machines. They take into account placement, noise and need when considering the application.” — (the website of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association)


OUR HARD-HITTING Planning Department is on record as saying they only address pad construction and electrical systems, not noise.


a. A planning department that processes construction permits for post-and-pad fans but does not address the noise that the avwine growers brag is their major consideration. But noise is the only consideration that would be of help to the long-suffering neighbors of avwine growers.

b. A Supervisor, Hamburg, who can’t or won’t so much as ask the planning department to look into what the winegrowers claim they are doing.

c. An Ag Commissioner who is on record saying he has done absolutely nothing about the issue beyond talking to the winegrowers about noise with no tangible (or audible) result.

d. A planning department that won’t even reply to complaints that they themselves agreed to process.

e. A bunch of wind machine opponents who whine privately about lost sleep but refuse to so much as call their supervisor to complain.

f. A wine growers group that refuses to honor their own stated goals because they can do whatever they want in Mendocino County because they... well, just because they're big and rich.

WHEN THE ATTORNEY for Mark Scaramella's lonely and mostly unsupported attempt to achieve noise abatement introduced the above statement, Judge Henderson cut him off saying that the av wines statement had not been officially introduced as a legal document and did not have a name on it.

FROST FANS roared up and down the Anderson Valley two early mornings last week. We suggest that the disturbed legions call Supervisor Hamburg, and Ag Commissioner Chuck Morse, at their homes the instant the fans go on.

HAMBURG: Home: 467-0329; Cell: 489-1422.

MORSE: (707) 275 9779

CRUMLEY LIVES! James Crumley often visited Mendocino County where he stayed in Elk with his close friend, Mike Koepf. Mike writes: "Got this from a friend in London this morning. I know this bookstore. It’s at the crossroads of the world and one of the most important bookstores in smoke town. The typical fate of a writer. Dies pursued by the IRS; after death, the publishing world resurrects him. I pray that his widow gets something out of this."


AVA COLUMNIST and flower lover Katy Tahja reports it’s a great year for wildflowers over in Bear Valley in Colusa County. Folks may not know one of the “hot spots” for wildflower viewing in that state is about two hours away off of Highway 20.Thirty plus species of flowers were identified and enjoyed on the trip over and back. The Bear Valley floor is awash in lavenders, whites and yellow blossoms. The landscape has been protected by conservation groups from development so all you see is a few ranches and cows, and they all coexist together. When you travel with a grandson next to you the most memorable moment for him was not the beauty of the flowers but the first cowboys on horses he had ever seen in his life. They stopped to say Hi and had a trio of ranch dogs following them. Grandson was in awe…then they crossed a high creek splashing through the water. One dog was slower than the rest and the cowboy waited on the shore for the little dog to paddle through the current. Coming home to family that night all grandson wanted to tell everyone about was the cowboys. More than 28 years ago when we took this little man’s mom and brother over to the same place to see those flowers they found a dead coyote, shot by a rancher, hanging on a barbed wire fence. The photo-op of the day was a field of wildflowers with two kids and a dead coyote…The kids LOVED that photo.

THE LONG ANTICIPATED draft of the Exclusive Operating Area ordinance for Mendocino County ambulance services has finally been agendized for the April 5 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. At first glance, it looks like the County is handing the whole process over to a private Sonoma County-based organization. Looks that way at second glance, too, but we're working on a coherent, clear explanation of what it all means.

WE CAN, HOWEVER, safely report that distant authority will decide what kind of ambulance service we wind up with, perhaps the same distant authority that seems to constantly change ambulance "protocols." Wasn't long ago when our stalwart volunteers were told not to apply tourniquets, which seemed to me not only to defy the "protocols" of basic human anatomy but dangerously nuts. Tourniquets were subsequently re-established as standard operating procedure, but the fact that tourniquets were temporarily put on hold translates as, "My Gawd."

USED TO BE the ambulance volunteers appeared at all hours out of the nights mists, scooped up the drunks, er, the injured, piled them into a modified ancient station wagon, and hauled them over the hill. How did we get from the simplicity of that to "protocols" and "exclusive operating areas"?

WHEN PUBLIC MEETINGS go from merely soporific to pure chloroform, and even connoisseurs of tedium are driven from the room muttering to themselves, you know you're attending the AV Health Center's "community strategic planning" session at the Philo Grange last Thursday night. It marked a new local high in inanity. "It was so nuts." The Major said Friday, "I can't get it out of my head."

MAJOR MARK SCARAMELLA, USAF (ret) said that he "immediately recoiled" when he saw that the room was arranged with individual tables with five or six people sitting at each, all of whom he recognized, none of whom, one-on-one, is uninteresting but, collectively, with their We're Here To Be Serious faces on, well, the Major assumed he was in for a long night, a public meeting where one asks oneself, "If I have this one life to live, and assuming there aren't ‘facilitators’ and public meetings in heaven, and double-assuming I'm going there despite a life of relentless sin, why am I aggravating my hemorrhoids sitting here listening to otherwise sensible people act crazy?"

THE ONLY PERSON present under the age of 60 who was not an employee or a board member of the Health Center (or their spouse) was Anderson Valley Fire Chief Andres Avila, and he was probably there more out of professional obligation than personal interest.

HEALTH CENTER Board Chairman Ric Bonner introduced a bouncy professional facilitator named Lori Lewis. Lori had big white teeth and smiled a lot. (Unnatural enthusiasm. Strike one.) Call Me Lori had been hired to conduct the evening's activities, the operating assumption apparently being we are too wacky and generally too unfocused to conduct our own affairs. Lori looked like she just drove up from Marin County, land of Me!, which she probably had.

MS. LEWIS began by talking not about the Health Center, but about herself: "Let me tell you a little about me," she said, noting that the last time she had been in Anderson Valley was in the 1980s when "the big subjects were Bigfoot and Boontling." Ms. Lewis laughed, but nobody else did because Bigfoot has never been a subject of conversation in the Anderson Valley because Foot's range is much farther north and Boontling, for those who have actually read the Boontling book, is a collection of sexual innuendo and ethnic insult, funny as hell but mostly incorrect by today's oppressive standards.

LORI then polled the older attendees about how long they had been in the Valley, whether they worked for the Health Center, whether they had ever used the Health Center and whether they had ever planned anything. (Like, you can get old without planning at least a trip to Ukiah?) "This is not a presentation," said Ms. Lewis, "but we will move around." It was at that point The Major said he began to feel "seriously apprehensive."

"I REALIZED that the Health Center and its operations and management was not the subject of the meeting. The subject of the meeting was — Christ save us all! — Us. The Editor has recommended the Jesus Prayer in stressful situations, but I couldn't remember it."

MS. LEWIS had plastered the walls with long horizontal sheets of butcher paper in three sections. One section was called "Boonville and the Anderson Valley Community." Another was entitled "History." The third, "The World." She said we were supposed to get up and walk over to the butcher paper and start writing down "memories, events." After we wrote down our memories and events — I remembered the two times I almost got married and the time I was so drunk I had to crawl backwards down the office stairs — but I had the feeling Lori wanted less eventful events, less memorable memories, maybe more like my first glass of Pinot or the annual Easter egg hunt at the Boonville Fairgrounds where feral children fight each other for baskets of tooth decay.

"FOR EXAMPLE you can put down when your children were born," said Ms. Lewis, adding that it was okay to put "bad stuff," on the butcher paper, but "be respectful and tactful — no names, nothing about how horrible people are."

I PWOMISE, mommy, I pwomise to be nice.

"AS INSTRUCTED," The Major said, "I did as I was told: I got up out of my chair and walked past the butcher paper and on out the back door. On my way to my car, former Community Services District Board member Barbara Scott flagged me down and said, "Boy — I'm sure glad I'm not the only one who had to walk out of there!"

THE HEALTH CENTER still has a huge construction note to pay off, but they've got $1500 for this?

YORKVILLE RESIDENTS PETER GORDON AND TINA WALTER have been working in a small rural Kenyan village for the past twelve (??) years with a focus on creating and implementing sustainable projects as identified by the village residents that provide education, better health, and general well-being. This year they partnered with another Valley resident, Theo Tebbutt, who has elected to help Kolunga Village for his senior class project. Theo has been creating a sustainable, long term agro-forestry nursery to benefit the women of Kolunga Village. You are invited to join us for a slide presentation on Kolunga Village Foundation, Theo’s amazing November, 2015 volunteer experience and his senior project on Friday, April 15th at 6 p.m. at the Yorkville Market. Proprietor Lisa Walsh Hale has opened her doors and her heart for this special event. There will be a selection of small bites and wine to purchase. Space is limited, so please RSVP by contacting Peter at 707-391-4928 or

PANTHER BASEBALL. The AV Panther baseball team won another lopsided game over Technology High (at Rohnert Park) 16-2 last Thursday afternoon (March 31). Jared Johnston went 3 for 4 with a double, 3 RBIs and 3 runs. Cesar Soto was 1 for 2 with 3 walks, scoring 3 runs. Isak Parra also went 3 for 4 and scored twice. Winning Pitcher Tony Pardini went four innings with 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, allowing only 3 hits and the two runs. Isak Parra was named player of the game. Up next: Rincon Valley Christian (there) this Friday at 4pm.

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