The sign said “Fiddlestix Vineyard” so we turned on a desolate dirt road into vineyards during a recent road-trip to Santa Barbara wine country. Fiddelestix is one of the iconic vineyards in Sta. (pronounced Santa) Rita Hills growing world-class Pinot Noir.
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, this was not a warm welcome for tourists!
Later that afternoon while visiting wine tasting rooms in nearby town of Los Olivos, we learned about the stressful relationship between local wineries and the new kids in town, marijuana growers. Santa Barbara County has issued more licenses than any California county to pot growers and it’s threatening the region’s wine trade. Pot farms have infiltrated the well-known 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, the workers in pot farms are employed year-round reducing seasonal employees for vineyards and pot growers pay cash since pot is illegal federally.
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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