By Associated Press • 

Vineyards lose suit against pot operation

Two Oregon wine grape growers have failed to convince a state judge their grapes would be adversely affected by odors from a neighboring marijuana operation.
Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Easterday ruled Smera Vineyard and Maysara Winery haven’t met their burden of proof to justify blocking the Wagner family from growing and processing the crop, The Capital Press reported.

The judge said she deliberated for nearly eight months since the February trial and had re-listened to expert testimony several times.

“This was a very difficult and close decision,” and while the potential for the smell of marijuana to taint wine grapes raises “a threat, a risk, and concerns, there is insufficient proof at this time by a preponderance of the evidence that it will damage plaintiffs’ current or future agricultural products,” Easterday said.

The judge also determined that Steven, Mary and Richard Wagner, the marijuana producers, can lawfully use an easement across one of the plaintiff’s properties and that the defendants are the prevailing parties under Oregon’s “right to farm” statute.

The vineyard plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in 2017 but their request for a temporary restraining order against the marijuana operation was denied.

However, their complaint survived a motion to dismiss after the court found the defendants didn’t have a “blanket immunity” from the charges under Oregon’s “right to farm” law.

After contentious hearings at the county level, the county commissioners voted to bar Wagner from processing marijuana on the site. However, permission from the county is not required for growing it.

Maysara Winery produces wine and grows grapevines with biodynamic certification and raises cattle on more than 530 acres near McMinnville, while Smera Vineyards is a much smaller grape-growing operation.

Wagner’s parcel is located across the street from three acres where Harihara and Parvathy Mahesh are developing Smera Vineyards, and adjacent to Momtazi’s property.

Maysara owner Moe Momtazi alleged the marijuana operation has cost him at least one large order for wine grapes and caused erosion into Momtazi’s ponds, harming fish and wildlife.

Comments

Hibb

Vineyards have had their way for quite sometime now, flexing their political capital and joining in the popular movement that has taken Yamhill County by storm. Now there is another producer at the table that will need land, water, etc. It is time that we all learn to get along and support one another in a bio-diverse agrarian setup like we have become.

When the vineyards came to town, it was those homesteaded farms that opposed the vines and considered it merely a speculative hobby until it began to commandeer the market, land and water and then those old farmers had to make room for the new kids coming from all over. Now the shoe is on the other foot and those vineyards are now reversing roles where they are like the farmers once were and the marijuana growers are as the vineyards once were. Sounds like we all need to get along because no matter how much we may protest, history has a way of repeating itself!

Oregonian

How is this back in county court? I thought the federal court picked up the case and there was going to be a battle of federal versus state court systems.

Nicole Montesano

Oregonian, there were two separate lawsuits; one in federal court, and one in state court. The federal lawsuit is still going. Look for an update soon.