Yesterday,Sightline released a new, expanded report telling the stories of seven communities affected by Measure 37.
Here is another of the stories…
Protection. Farmer Ted Warrick knows that his wine grapes need protection to be good enough to craft the pinot noir, chardonnay, zinfandel, syrah, and eight other varietals he makes at Wooldridge Creek Winery and Vineyards. Proud of southern Oregon’s fertile Applegate Valley, Warrick insists that this area rivals California for wine-grape growing: the rich soil and fair weather conditions that produce near perfect pH levels, sugar, and acidity make for world-class wines. Even so, keeping his grapes out of harm’s way is paramount.
So, since the mid-1970s, Warrick has been protecting his southern Oregon grapes as best he can. His methods are both creative and diligent. At night, playing talk radio keeps hungry bears away. During the day, he sprays organic sulfur to give the grapes a coating that protects them from fungus. He sometimes fires air cannons to deter hungry birds. And over the years, he’s protected the crop’s viability with a solid marketing plan: Ninety-eight percent of the wine is nearly guaranteed to sell, thanks to his thousand-member wine club and an accessible tasting room at the farm.
But he can’t protect the grapes from Measure 37.
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Three Measure 37 claims nearly surround Warrick’s 56-acre vineyard. The first, a 160-acre housing development, is adjacent to his property; the second, for another housing development on less than 50 acres, is directly across the road. The third claim, about three miles away, proposes a 20-acre mine for aggregate rock on the banks of the Applegate River.
Warrick foresees clashes with neighbors over tractor noise, spraying, air cannons, and even the late-night talk radio. Homeowner complaints could potentially shut down the winery, Warrick says. And the mine, he fears, could create traffic issues on the small, winding two-lane road that accesses the Wooldridge Winery.
Since the winery depends on customers coming to the farm, Warrick fears that people will pass him by, opting not to deal with gravel trucks and increased car traffic from the new neighborhoods.
“We came here with the expectation to farm,” says Warrick, “and we ourselves could file a Measure 37 claim . . . but our ambition is to farm and make premium quality wines. Unfortunately these Measure 37 claims are really a threat to our business and livelihood.”
Warrick is also worried about the implications for the rest of the Applegate Valley’s burgeoning wine industry. Back in the 1970s, Wooldridge was one of the few wineries in the area, but today there are about a dozen wineries, plus several other vineyards that sell grapes to winemakers.
“Subdivisions and farming operations by nature don’t mix,” says Warrick. “But subdivisions and vineyards really don’t mix.”
It comes back to protection for Warrick.
“It’s obvious that vineyards and wineries benefit the economic development of this area,” he says, “and I do think they need to be protected.”
He hopes that the Oregon legislature will step in and protect what he calls “value-added agriculture.” As the law stands now, there is little Oregon farmers can do to protect their businesses from Measure 37 claims.
“Where do we go for compensation?” he asks.
Read Sightline’s full report: Two Years of Measure 37: Oregon’s Property Wrongs
Watch the companion video produced by 1,000 Friends of Oregon:And Fairness For None