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Game-Changing Ballot Measure for Napa Vineyards Is Too Close to Call

Final results will be in by the end of the week

Wally Gobetz/Flickr

The results of a hotly contested ballot measure in Napa County that could shape the future of the famous wine growing region are still too close to call. Measure C, proposed by environmentalists to preserve oak trees and water sources in the area, currently leads by a margin of just 42 votes in a preliminary tally taken late last night. Another, final count is anticipated later this week.

Known as the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative, Measure C would set a 795-acre limit on oak forests that can be cut to plant vines on land that’s zoned as agricultural watershed. Beyond that limit, permits would be needed to cut down further trees. Measure C would also create “buffer zones” for streams and wetlands from which trees could not be removed, an effort to preserve water quality.

The result: Measure C would severely limit vineyard development on hillsides, one of the few areas left to plant on. That would likely lead to higher values for existing land and higher prices on Napa wines. The measure will take effect 10 days after final results are declared.

Napa Valley Vintners spent $200,000 to defeat the measure, though some vintners like Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars lent the measure their support on environmental grounds. Adversaries of the measure spent $650,000 in total to fund the No on C campaign, while proponents of the measure spent $200,000 on its passage.

In almost all early, mail-in voting, the results were split with 7,191 votes in favor of Measure C, and 7,149 opposed according to the Napa County Department of Elections. Stay tuned for updates as Napa announces final voting results.

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