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Winemakers rally to oppose ban on new vineyards in newly-created Malibu Coast AVA

Only months after the creation of the new Malibu Cast AVA, winemakers are battling with local authorities to stop a ban on new vineyard plantings coming into force.

Photo credit: Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards

Changes approved by the California Coastal Commission in April, which include a ban all new vineyard plantings in the newly designated Malibu AVA zone, will come into effect pending the outcome of a vote on 26th August.

The proposed changes are known as the Local Coastal Program (LCP) and if passed will prohibit the agricultural development in the local area, including vineyards.

The LCP argues that the changes will prevent the pollution of local streams due to pesticide run-off. It also suggests that vineyards use too much water in the drought stricken state, that it expects a loss of sensitive habitats to local wildlife and that vine growth promotes soil erosion.

Under the proposals, only legally established vineyards will be able to remain.

In opposition to the proposed law, 52 Malibu Coast vineyard owners have joined forces to champion the local wine industry cause.

They include Montage Vineyards, Colcanyon Estate Wines, Dolin Malibu Estates, Malibu Solstice, and Jim Palmer’s Malibu Vineyards, all of whom are expected to speak in defence of Malibu’s tradition of vineyards, which goes back to 1824.

They are expected to argue that vineyard water-use is minimal due to drip irrigations. In addition, they will argue that vine roots and between-row cover crop help stabilise the soil, in an area prone to annual mudslides whilst providing a natural fire barrier.

The new Malibu Coast AVA stretches northbound along the Pacific Coast Highway for approximately 46 miles and inland to the Santa Monica Mountains for about eight miles.

Malibu currently has 198 acres of vines in production and over 50 grape growers and wineries.

Written by Louis Villard

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