The sign said “Fiddlestix Vineyard” so we turned onto a desolate dirt road into vineyards during a recent road-trip to Santa Barbara wine country. Fiddelestix is one of the premier vineyards in Sta. (pronounced Santa) Rita Hills growing world-class Pinot Noir.

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But our vehicle drew attention and the vineyard boss was NOT happy. He quickly jumped from his pickup truck, queried our intentions, took pictures of our license plate and curtly escorted us out of the property. Clearly, it wasn’t a warm welcome for tourists!

Later while visiting winery tasting rooms in Los Olivos town, we learned about the stressful relationship between resident wineries and the new kids in town, marijuana growers. Santa Barbara County issued more licenses than any other Calif county to pot growers and it’s threatening the region’s wine trade. Pot farms are infiltrating the well-respected appellations of Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley, and they aren’t good neighbors. The innocuous odor from marijuana plants is unpleasant to tourists at tasting rooms, workers in pot farms are employed year-round reducing seasonal employees for vineyards and pot growers pay cash since pot is illegal federally.

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image from LA Times

The following article in LA Times describes the conflict –> https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-santa-barbara-pot-grows-20190612-htmlstory.html

Cheers, Bob the WineGuy

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