By Alissa Greenberg

In 2002, when stretches of the Napa River running through Rutherford area vineyards breached levees and flooded yet again, Michael Honig did something remarkable: rather than call the authorities to complain, his neighbors and he banded together to restore their riverbanks. “It had became a kind of competition,” Honig says. “If I built my levee up to five feet, the person across from me had to build theirs up five-and-a-half feet.” The restoration project came at a personal price: Honig, and many of his neighbors, gave up acres of some of their best vineyards. What makes vintners in a competitive market voluntarily give up that kind of income is a complex mix of principles, pragmatic thinking, and long-term considerations.

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Locals Trade Vines for Resilient Rivers

By Alissa Greenberg

In 2002, when stretches of the Napa River running through Rutherford area vineyards breached levees and flooded yet again, Michael Honig did something remarkable: rather than call the authorities to complain, his neighbors and he banded together to restore their riverbanks. “It had became a kind of competition,” Honig says. “If I built my levee up to five feet, the person across from me had to build theirs up five-and-a-half feet.” The restoration project came at a personal price: Honig, and many of his neighbors, gave up acres of some of their best vineyards. What makes vintners in a competitive market voluntarily give up that kind of income is a complex mix of principles, pragmatic thinking, and long-term considerations.

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