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Welcome! Major wine industry pub covers the surreality of Duarte’s WOTUS Woes

A note from Wine Industry Insight (WII ) Publisher and Executive Editor Lewis Perdue

Kudos to WineBusiness.Com for covering the surreal trials that the federal government is putting John Duarte through: Duarte faces millions of dollars in fines for plowing through wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act.


While Wine Industry Insight (WII ) has so far written and published 20 original articles on Duarte’s case (links below) those 20 WII articles only scratch the surface of this issue and the serious implications it has for all of agriculture.


We’ve tried to provide context and a starting point to grasp the surreal logic often used by the federal government. That and how the consequences of that strange logic apply to every farmer and vineyard owner. However, there is so much more to report. Our files are overflowing with articles that beg to beg to be written.

An issue bigger than competition

Given the importance and the breadth of this, there is more than enough material to go around for solid enterprise and investigative reporting that has profound live-or-die consequences for vineyards and farming as a whole.

That’s why we welcome our journalistic competitor (which I founded in 1991). But this is an issue that is far more important than competition or the success of one publication or another.

Let’s work together

I stand ready to share my files and knowledge gained to WineBusiness.Com in order produce articles that badly need to be written.

The goal is to move beyond our own simple self interest in order to serve vineyard owners and others in agriculture to help them to understand and to act. This can create a broader recognition to help solve the issues of making sure the mandate of the Clean Water Act legislation is realized to its fullest without the arbitrary and often capricious actions of the Corps of Engineers.

Broader recognition vital

Broader recognition is vital because nearly every vineyard in California could face the same sanctions as Duarte if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers simply decided one day to look as closely at them as it has with Duarte’s field in Tehama County.

Nearly every Calif vineyard could be nailed with Duarte-like sanctions

Virtually every vineyard in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Lodi, or the Central Coast, the Central Valley or the foothills has engaged in some well-established practice of responsible farming that runs afoul of the “Waters Of The United States” (WOTUS) according to the current rule interpretations. And could be fined or hauled into court just like Duarte.

If that last statement seems preposterous, read the Duarte court articles and Wine Industry Insight’s  six-part series (links below) on why wetlands do not have to be wet, soil is a pollutant, plowing is a point source of pollution and the tiniest seasonal rivulet in a field or vineyard that carries water only in heavy rain can qualify an entire field as WOTUS for the purpose of Clean Water Act enforcement.


This is not a one-article story. Nor is it an isolated event. And it is certainly relevant to every vineyard and orchard owner, farmer and forester.

14 Original WII articles on Duarte & Clean Water Act

Duarte Coverage

Major 6-Article Series On Clean Water Act & WOTUS

Interesting and/or helpful links