Opus One Winery has been ordered to pay more than $10,000 in monetary relief for contaminating the Napa River with grape waste last year.
An undetermined amount of grape waste from the Oakville winery was accidentally pumped into the river in October during the 2016 harvest, Opus One CEO David Pearson said Wednesday. The pump was set up so that rain water from the winery’s parking lot would get pumped into the river, but when rain got into and leaked through a container of pomace, red water went into the drain system and was pumped into the river.
“The pump was on when it shouldn’t have been,” Pearson said.
When the winery was notified of the spill the next day, they responded immediately. The pump has been adjusted so it no longer directs into the river, Pearson said.
“It’s a onetime incident that made us very upset,” he said. “We take our stewardship of the river and the environment very seriously.”
No assessment or analysis was made to find out exactly how much waste was deposited into the river, according to Pearson.
The Napa County District Attorney’s Office filed a complaint against the winery in Napa County Superior Court last week for allowing potentially harmful wine waste to pass into the river and for engaging in unfair business practices. A final judgment was signed by Judge Diane Price and filed in court on Monday.
Opus One Winery was ordered to pay $869 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and $993 to Napa County’s Planning, Building and Environmental Services department for costs associated with the spill. The winery was ordered to pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the Napa County District Attorney’s Office and an additional $5,000 to the Friends of the Napa River to be used for enhancement of the river.
Money gained from civil penalties will be split between the county's fish and wildlife propagation fund and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Fish and Game Preservation Fund, Assistant DA Paul Gero said Tuesday.
Opus One, which is currently undergoing construction, was also ordered to submit a final version of its “Operations & Maintenance Manual” within 30 days of construction completion to the Napa County department of Planning, Building and Environmental Services.
Pearson said that he hopes the construction, which will expand the winery’s terrace as well as provide more rooms for barrel aging, will be completed in early 2019.
Editor's Note: This story has been edited from its original version to clarify which organizations will be receiving funds.