Needs Funding


In Northern California’s wine country a line has been drawn in the thin, rocky soil that wine grapes love.  To one side - a multi-million dollar industry; on the other - fruit and vegetable farmers, cattle ranchers, milk producers, journalists and maybe, us.

With about 60,000 acres planted in grapes, less than 10% of its agricultural land, Sonoma County has surpassed Napa County in wine grape production. Sonoma County’s wine grape crop was worth $390 million in 2010, while the area’s wine culture is a big factor in Sonoma County’s billion dollar annual tourist trade.

Whether we know it or not; our county and Northern California’s welfare is balanced on the rim of a wine glass.

This project  will examine this contentious issue and industry from the ground up, on both sides of the line,  in a series of eight reports and oral histories:  

  • An overview of the geology of Sonoma County and how it relates to the wine growing regions of Europe with a history of the varieties of grapes grown here and what it takes, from an ecological standpoint, to cultivate them.
  • A history of a 100+ acre parcel of land and how it has changed over the last two centuries.
  • An overview and comparison between Sonoma County, Napa County and the historic wine growing regions of Europe.
  • Interviews with a small, multi-generational grape-growing family, including  the generations of women who specialize in vine grafting, and field workers.
  • Interviews with  Sonoma County and California Agricultural Commissioners.
  • Interviews with principal figures at one of the oldest wineries in Sonoma County and one of the largest wineries in Sonoma County.
  • Interviews with professors of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.
  • Interviews with representatives of the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Department.

Readers will be given advance notice of upcoming interviews so they can “ride along“ by contributing questions and concerns to be addressed.

We need to understand our rural heritage in order to secure it, and respect what it takes to maintain diversity and a decent life for our farmers. I want to follow this complicated issue from the board rooms and the warehouses and tasting rooms to the point of view of the people who are working the land.

Growing Wine in Northern California will harvest verifiable data and separate it  from the critics’ vitriol and insiders’ self-interest. Is there a monoculture myth in Sonoma County or are we sacrificing the health of our diminishing rural areas to the huge profits of viticulture?  

35% funded
  • over 2 years overdue
  • 1,265.00 credits raised

Individual Donors

  • 1,265.00 credits donated to the story
  • (19 supporters)

Organization Support

  • 159.50 credits donated to the story
  • (2 supporters)
  • Bruce Robinson
  • Robin Pressman

Community-Centered Advertising

  • 40.50 credits donated to the story
  • (4 supporters)
  • The Whitman Institute
  • The Whitman Institute
  • The Whitman Institute
  • The Whitman Institute

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