Winemakers in San Joaquin Valley will soon have to curb emissions

The 109 wineries in California’s San Joaquin Valley — home to the worst smog in the U.S. — emit 788 tons of ethanol and other smog-forming gases a year, according to regulators. Plans are in the works to implement new air-quality rules by the end of 2005 that would mandate emissions controls on wine-fermentation tanks — the first such regulations in the U.S. But the region’s winemakers, including jug-wine behemoth Gallo Winery, protest that technologies designed to suck up gases from oil refineries and steel mills are ill suited to operations that generate merlots and chardonnays. The vino producers fear the machinery would harm the taste and smell of the wines, and breed bacteria that could cause contamination. So officials are considering novel trade-off options that would permit the wineries to pay for similar pollution reductions elsewhere in the valley — say, curbing emissions from their delivery trucks — rather than putting controls on their tanks.