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The FBI Is Looking Into Some of Napa Valley’s Most Famous Wineries

A number of Napa Valley’s most notable wineries have become caught up in a mysterious federal probe.

Late last year, 40 people and businesses in the California wine region were named in a subpoena filed by a U.S. district attorney, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. “Please provide any and all documents relating to the following individuals, entities, and/or projects,” it reads. The list then goes on to encompass names including Hall Wines, Caymus Vineyards, Mer Soleil, and Alpha Omega Winery, among others.

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“We are aware that there is an ongoing investigation,” Craig and Kathryn Hall, the owners of their namesake winery, said in a statement to the L.A. Times. “However, we do not know the scope or the details and it would be inappropriate for us to speculate.”

Alongside the subpoena related to wineries and their owners, three others have been filed in relation to other Napa entities: One is seeking records from the Upper Valley Waste Management Agency; another is looking into the Napa County Airport; and yet another was served on the county’s farm bureau. The U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco declined to comment to the newspaper, as did the FBI’s local office. Some of the people and businesses named didn’t respond to interview requests, while others expressed befuddlement.

“Napa County is not being investigated,” Holly Dawson, a county spokesperson, told the L.A. Times. “We were issued a subpoena for records. We know nothing more.”

Many people who spoke with the newspaper alleged the probe could be related to Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. Seen as a pro-agriculture—thus, pro-winery—figure, he has come to a head with local environmental activists and those who think Napa Valley is becoming an overdeveloped tourist destination. Some of the people asked for records have donated to Pedroza’s political campaigns, the Times noted, while others were involved in a land deal with his family. (Pedroza did not respond to the outlet’s calls and emails, but another news site reported that his home was searched by the FBI in December.)

While it’s not clear what exactly the federal probe is trying to find out, it seems to have hit on one of Napa Valley’s sore spots: whether the county should double down on its wine-loving reputation or whether the wine-tourism industry has contributed to “hollowing out” the area, as one former mayor of St. Helena put it to the L.A. Times. Seems like the California county may be dealing with a little bit more than just some sour grapes.


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