Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Make restitution in Paso Wine Region
    The Tribune reporter Lindsey Holden reports Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of Justin Vineyards say "they were asleep at the wheel" when their company cut thousands of oak trees, denuded a large hill side and began work on an illegal holding pond that would have sucked 6 million gallons of water, frightening nearby neighbors and farmers worried about their wells. Holden quotes them as saying they are "ashamed and sorry."
     The good news is they plan to give the 380 acre parcel to a local nonprofit group and say they are looking for conservation opportunities. They promise to plant 5 thousand new oaks.  
      As we have noted previously neighbors and other growers were worried by the Resnick actions. Since our original posts the LA Times and the San Luis Obispo Tribune and other media have given the growing story a lot of attention. Major restaurants have dropped Justin Wine from their menus and boycotts of the Resnick products Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful and Justin wine have begun. All of these products are produced by Wonderful Company. 
      The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors issued stop work orders and is investigating potential violations.  
       Holden reports Wonderful reported income of $3.8 billion 
  in 2014.  Since the Resnick purchase of the prestigious Justin label from Justin Baldwin they've experienced staff turnover, loss of a premier winemaker, have increased production levels and begun a mass marketing campaign.
Long time fans have dropped membership in the wine club and complained about the drop in quality of the product. The Justin operation is "corporate" while the majority of Paso Robles appellation winemakers are smaller, independent, boutique, mom and pop and artisan.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria Ca     
    It is always a good place to clear your head. Politics, discord, warm temperatures and whatever disappear in the breeze and lullaby of the surf.

the intersection 
 the solo walker
 the mystery of where rocks land-why here?

 closer looks

 the world awaits

In a Council Chamber not far away
   The once revered Justin Winery took a verbal beating before the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors investigating land use irregularities and tree cutting on Justin property.
    Lindsey Holden of the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports dozens of farmers, residents and environmentalists decried practises by the winery owned by Stewart Resnick and his Wonderful Company.
     The county is considering penalties for trying to build a water storage pond and grading violations that neighbors say threaten their wells.
      Supervisor Bruce Gibson is quoted as saying "it is the most appalling demonstration of corporate greed I've seen in a very long time."
       Holden reports Chairwoman Lynn Compton told of how growers talk about how they grew up respecting the land and caring for it  "And then you have some out of town corporation....and they really come in and spoil it for everyone."
      As we posted previously, when Justin Baldwin owned the winery his product was highly regarded. Since sale to the Resnick group the wine appears to be just another commodity in a business that sells Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful and other products. Several fine dining establishments have dropped Justin and many former fans talk about a cheapening of the product. The ethos of Justin seems entirely out of place and character in the Paso Robles appellation which is gaining reputation for quality and a friendly and accessible counterpoint to Napa, a corporate wine region. 
      The Board of Supervisors is considering new Oak protection ordinances for that rural area, similar to those in place elsewhere.

The Gun Fight
    It appears the next battle ground for gun control, safety and regulation will be in state legislatures. The Supreme Court has permitted state regulation, consistent with their rulings on the Second Amendment. Further the US Congress is impotent and under the control of the NRA and their fellow gun industry lobbyists.  
    The state level fight worked for previous social issues, including marriage. In addition former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg vows to fight the NRA perversion of Congress. He's probably got deeper pockets and is a lot tougher than LaPierre.

    Interesting times we inhabit eh?

    Remember to take a walk once in a while.
    See you down the trail.


  1. When I'm stressed out I love to walk on the beach. It really calms me down.

  2. Someday, maybe 4 or 5 decades from now, a doctoral thesis will be written about the NRA and how it came to the influence it had over the business of the government. It's a mystery to me, as over 60% of their membership apparently approve of some form of gun control.

    Lovely area you live, there in the sheltered central coast. My memories of it are mostly now from 40 years ago, when it was a rural, agriculture area, with artichoke fields end on end.

    Summer here in Montana is one of the most pleasant in memory. Days in the 70's, nights in the low 40's.

    Hope I get back to your neck of the woods, eucalyptus trees have a special fascination for me.


    1. I don't think most people understand how powerful is the gun industry. I intend to write about the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. It protects makers and dealers from being held liable when their products are used in criminal actions and such. Imagine if GM or any other car maker could avoid liability. Why the Gun industry for this very special hybrid law? Check out the act.
      This part of the central coast is still rural...cattle ranches and vineyards mixed with the open and undeveloped miles. The eucalyptus trees are still here. Sounds like your summer is a dandy.

  3. I can remember when the NRA was an organization of sportsmen supporting gun safety,and hunting. I wonder why they changed to the whatever it Franken lobby it is now. unfortunate.

    1. A few folks out west where long guns have a long history have said the same thing.

  4. I can remember when the NRA was an organization of sportsmen supporting gun safety,and hunting. I wonder why they changed to the whatever it Franken lobby it is now. unfortunate.

  5. Love you picture of the rocks and the closeup of the sea snakes. Or is that kelp?

    1. That is kelp, however if you want to think of that as a pile of sea snakes harvested by your pal, go with it.

  6. Tom, one more in a long line of great investigative reporting. Thanks.

    1. Steve, before you departed these parts for the southern climes we were talking about the Resnick take over and the first round of tree cutting. This last was just too much.
      I applaud the Tribune for devoting the time to the story after locals started raising alarms. The Big Sky Cafe and Thomas Hill Organics are heavy players and their dropping of Justin Wine is significant.

  7. We were all disappointed to see the sale of Justin to the Resnicks. The news about the irrigation pond was particularly disturbing since the unnecessary evaporation of water would be a huge loss to all of the vintners using the water table.

    Unfortunately, the story you write has a significant discrepancy. The 3.8 billion dollars is not income. It is revenue or sales. You can verify this at the following website: