Hey, Everybody, Let's Talk About Dust!

    Getting together with people to talk about dust sounds almost as exciting as watching paint dry.

     But in this case, we’re not talking about just any dust. This is special dust.

     This is Rutherford dust, the special soil in a certain sector of the Napa Valley that helps vintners produce some of the most distinctive wines to be found anywhere.

     So special is this dust that it has its own society. And last month, more than 50 members of the Rutherford Dust Society gathered at the elegant Auberge du Soleil resort for their annual membership meeting, to elect officers and to review the organization’s goals and mission.

     It was the 9th annual meeting for the organization, and this year the topics discussed included a wide range of issues of mutual concern.


     The officers elected for 2010 were Larry Stone of Rubicon Estate as president, Robin Baggett of Alpha Omega Winery as vice president, Paul Wagner of Balzac Communications & Marketing as secretary, and Jamie Hurley of Wheaten Palm Vineyards as treasurer.

     Each year the Rutherford Dust Society invites speakers to address the annual meeting about issues important to the organization.

     Gretchen Hayes of Tessera Sciences updated the members on the landmark Rutherford Dust Restoration Team Napa River restoration project. Phase 1a of the project was completed in 2009, with phase 1b and phase 2 scheduled for 2010, and phase 3 in 2011. Included in the project is a maintenance plan that involves removing trash and invasive plant species and upkeep for installed habitat structures. The project has widespread support from environmental groups, regulatory agencies and local landowners.


     In addition to the RDRT project, one of the top items on the agenda was the progress made on the society’s goal of making Rutherford the greenest AVA in Napa Valley. Frank Leeds of Frog’s Leap winery updated the members on efforts to reach this goal. Leeds noted that Rutherford is currently more than 60% green.


     Also on the agenda was the Rutherford Grange. The committee to revitalize the grange is headed by Master of the Grange Susan Hirschy.

     “I appreciated the opportunity to speak to the membership about the revitalization of Rutherford Grange and the goal to drive more business to Rutherford area wineries,” said Hirschy. “The Rutherford Grange is on its way to breaking state and national records for memberships of a grange during revitalization.”


     Another topic of mutual concern was crime prevention, due to the recent rash of solar panel thefts in Rutherford. Deputy Sheriff Jon Thompson of the Napa County Sheriff’s Department addressed the group on how to work together as a community toward the goal of reducing crime.

     Possibly the most important issue discussed was the recent invasion of Napa County by the European Grapevine Moth. This pest was first detected in various locations in Napa Valley last fall. State and federal departments of agriculture are taking immediate steps to address this serious threat to the vineyards of Napa Valley. A meeting to update the members on these latest steps is scheduled this month.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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