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Napa County Ballot Measure Limiting Vineyard Development Fails Narrowly

The contentious vote was at first too close to call

Sonoma County Winery Harvests Grapes Late In Season, After Being Delayed By Devastating Wildfires In Region Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Friday, proponents of a divisive Napa County ballot measure intended to protect the environment admitted defeat at the polls but vowed to continue their fight. The results of Measure C, known as the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, were initially too close to call, but in a nearly final tally of votes, the measure appears to have failed by a slim margin.

Measure C would have set a 795-acre limit on oak forests that could be cut to plant vines on land zoned as agricultural watershed, among other environmental restrictions. But the result of its passage, according to opponents, would have placed punishing restrictions on hillside vineyard development, one of the few areas of plantable land left in the county.

“While we’re obviously disappointed by the outcome, we’re as committed as ever to taking the steps needed to keep our local water supplies clean and reliable,” said Mike Hackett, co-chair of the Yes on C committee, according to a statement from the committee.

Per the last unofficial pre-certification election report, 17,471 Napa residents voted against Measure C, compared with 16,839 who voted for it. The Yes on C campaign claims that its grassroots effort was outspent three-to-one, mostly by wine industry groups like the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Grapegrowers, and Napa Farm Bureau associations.

Proponents of Measure C included the Napa County chapters of the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, the Center for Biological Diversity, Latinos Unidos of Napa and Sonoma Counties, and the City of St. Helena. Some vintners, such as Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, supported the measure on environmental grounds.

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