The owners of a winery in Paso Robles have apologised for being 'asleep at the wheel' following a public outcry over their company chopping down oak trees in the California region.

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Public anger had been building in Paso Robles after it emerged that Justin Vineyards and Winery had gone ahead with plans to chop down dozens of oak trees in the area.

Justin Winery owners, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, have now apologised for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ of ther company. They own The Wonderful Company, which also includes Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful brands.

‘We try to instill in our local team a neighborly spirit, environmental responsibility and entrepreneurial independence, but when we learned of the terrible situation at our Sleepy Farm Road property, not to mention our poor reputation within the community, we were ashamed and are sorry,’ they said.

Several nearby winery owners had joined in criticism of the oak tree cull.

Wine’s environmental and social impact in California has risen up the political agenda in recent years, partly due to prolonge drought in the US sunshine state.

The Resnicks said that they would donate the 380-acre area of Paso Robles land, and that they have been in talks with local authorities about handing it over for conservation projects – possibly to a non-profit firm.

They also said that they would plant 5,000 oak trees on their properties and take action to prevent erosion on the newly-cleared land.

The Resnicks added, ‘Over the last few days, we’ve been conducting an internal review of the project and learned that while genuine efforts to meet county ordinances were made, unfortunately, there were absolutely unacceptable lapses of judgment.’

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