The Associated Press
MCMINNVILLE — Oregon vineyard owners are asking a judge to ban neighboring property owners from growing marijuana.
The lawsuit filed in Yamhill County Circuit Court this week claims Momtazi Vineyards has already lost one customer due to the planned marijuana operation next door.
Momtazi Vineyards has won awards for the grapes it has grown in McMinnville for 18 years. Upcoming vineyard owners Harihara and Parvathy Mahesh are also joining Momtazi in the lawsuit.
Oregon resident Richard Wagner plans to grow about 22,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet of marijuana outdoors on the estimated 305,000 square feet of land his parents helped him buy last year.
The lawsuit claims Wagner’s operation could cost the Momtazi’s Demeter Biodynamic certification, which recognizes its organic farming method. The Momtazi and Mahesh families’ lawyer did not respond to calls asking him to elaborate on how that would occur.
The lawsuit also claims Wagner’s operation could produce “foul-smelling particles” that would impact the grapes.
“The odor is similar to that of skunk and is not acceptable in wine,” Moe Momtazi told the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners last week. “The impact on Momtazi Vineyard … would certainly put the vines and wine at great risk.”
Wagner said that is not true, as the smell will only be apparent for a few weeks in the harvest season, and claims the processing will not emit any particles that would negatively impact the grapes.
“They’re afraid, they’re very afraid,” Wagner said. “It’s all based on ignorance and fear. … At the same time, I get it. I’m not lacking empathy with them.”