Reach 14 prior to restoration efforts

Reach 14 prior to restoration efforts

Rutherford Restored Construction

Construction underway to expand the banks of the Napa River and provide new habitat for fish, birds and wildlife.

Restored river bank along Reach 14

Restored river bank along Reach 14

Reach 9 before restoration

Reach 9 before restoration

Reach 9 after restoration

Reach 9 after restoration. Water slows down with expanded area, eliminating incision.

Rutherford Restored

The Rutherford Reach restoration project has been lauded for rapid accomplishments achieved through private commitment and public partnership. The statistics are notable:
  • This project alone achieved more than 80 percent of the mandated TMDL reduction target for the Napa River watershed due to channel incision and bank erosion.
  • A continuous 4.5-mile river restoration engaging all 30 landowners across 41 parcels.
  • Includes a 20-year self-assessment to fund the project and provide for ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
  • 31 acres of vineyard land valued at $9 million were rededicated and revegetated to native riparian habitat.
  • More than 2.5 miles of the channel were widened.
  • Over 140 in-stream habitat structures were installed to help salmon and trout rebound.
  • 5 beaver dams have popped up where beavers haven’t been seen in decades and Swainson’s hawk, normally found in estuaries, have nested on the Reach.

Davie Piña described going before the Coastal Conservancy to request funding: “When we told them we had self-funded the restoration plan, had every single landowner onboard, a partnership with the Napa Resource Conservation District and the County and more than half of the $20 million raised in matching funds, they were floored. People told us it might take 20 years to break ground. We did it in seven.”

The plan was built from the inside out, with landowners like John Williams of Frog’s Leap, Piña and other Rutherford Dust Society leaders building relationships and trust with all the landowners.

In the late 1990s, berm and levee wars were getting litigious and landowners knew building the river banks higher were just ‘staying away from the river.’ Williams recalled looking at breached berms and eroding and collapsed banks, thinking, “If we tackled these different problems together we might have a better chance.”

The Napa Resource Conservation District (RCD) came to the Rutherford Dust Society and proposed a partnership. Many landowners needed to make expensive and time-consuming repairs. By collaborating, they could see benefits, like getting grants and sharing costs. Initially, each landowner contributed based on the length of their river frontage to privately fund a restoration engineering study. Once complete, a public-private partnership with the RCD was formed, called Rutherford Dust Restoration Team (RDRT), and began restoring and managing the Napa River from Rutherford to Oak Knoll.

The idea was to restore a whole reach, not just one spot where you have a problem.

There were significant contractual hurdles: landowners had to agree to allow the county and contractors access to their property for at least three years; they had to sign-up for a 20-year assessment of $1.75/foot of riverfront, which applied to both sides of the river if it divided a property in two. RDRT facilitated conversations with regulatory agencies and landowners, taking their requests into account. Even with 30 landowners agreeing, there were still millions of dollars to raise.

Napa County’s Measure A Flood Control sales tax proved to be a lifeline, providing matching funds of approximately $12.5 million. This enabled RDRT to obtain grants from multiple state and federal organizations, totaling another $7.9 million. With funding and a restoration plan with environmental and regulatory approval, they broke ground.

Davie Piña recalled one landowner who admitted he signed initially because he never thought the project would happen. “Ultimately he invited the group over to his house and congratulated us on what we’d accomplished. Another time I ran into Michael Honig, who had seen restoration work being done on another property, and he said, ‘That’s the greatest thing I’ve seen. When do you start on my property?’”

Restoration began in 2009 and was completed in 2014. The Napa County Flood District monitors and maintains the work. Annual reports show the restoration is meeting and exceeding performance standards for project success, including positive trends in channel width-to-depth ratios; increased in-channel gravel recruitment and fine-sediment storage; increased riparian buffer width and vegetation establishment.

It’s such a beautiful sight with new terraced banks, and with beaver, salmon and steelhead coming back. It just goes to show that in this age of great skepticism about our political institutions and polarized views about the environment, a group of diverse individuals can find common ground and work constructively with government to build a sustainable river for our future.​

Rutherford Reach wineries certified Napa Green Land and/or Napa Green Winery:

Read the Series:


Partnerships Help Restore the Napa River | Restoration of the Napa River is a testimony to the power of public-private partnerships in revitalizing the health of waterways and riparian lands.


Rutherford Restored | The Rutherford Reach restoration project has been lauded for rapid accomplishments achieved through private commitment and public partnership.


Oakville to Oak Knoll – Building on the Success of the Rutherford Reach | The 9.5 mile Oakville to Oak Knoll (OVOK) Napa River restoration project flows immediately south of the Rutherford Reach restoration.


Napa River Restoration Part II: Along the Upper Napa River | The California Land Stewardship Institute (CLSI) is working with landowners on a restoration plan for a 5.3 mile stretch of the upper Napa River just downstream from Calistoga.

I've been at this for 30 years and this is the best, most well-thought-out program I've ever seen.

A live check in with @abrittain &!
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🌿 Did you know that less than 3% of philanthropic donations go to environmental work? 

Please consider donating to Napa Green this giving season with one of several ways at any level! 

Head to the link in our bio for details!
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With gratitude and joy, we wish you a beautiful day & start to the holiday season from all of us at Team Green! 

- Ben, Meghan, Anna, Marissa, Sierra & Megan
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‘If not here, where? If not now, when?’ 

“The onus is on us as a world class wine growing region to be leaders in sustainability & climate action.” 

- Executive Director of Napa Green, Anna Brittain
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It’s been a big week at Napa Green and we want to take a moment to raise a glass to salute you all. 

We are overjoyed to see so much support and invigorated interest in our mission towards sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture in the wine industry. 

We have many more details, paired with educational & financial resources that are already up and rolling on our website. We will continue to share them all, one by one and in great detail here on socials as well. 

For now please plan on joining us at our upcoming Town Hall meeting on Dec 7th at @stsupery. You can find more details at 

Cheers and Happy Friday Napa Valley. We are so proud to be a part of this amazing community!
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⚠️ Important Announcement 

Napa Green becomes the first sustainable wine growing certification to require the phaseout of Round Up. 

Please find the link in our bio for the full press release and full suite of info & grower resources. 

Join us on December 7th for our Napa Green Town Hall at @stsupery.
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Don’t miss the awe-inspiring @nikki_silvestri at @dominusestatewinery on Nov 30th!
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You’re invited to join us for a very special day at @dominusestatewinery on November 30th. 

We’ll be briefly interviewing our speaker @nikki_silvestri right here on Instagram today at 2:00pm PST to hear more about what to expect at this event. See you then.
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Curious to learn more? Join us at @dominusestatewinery on November 30th for a rare event and luncheon. Link in bio for details.
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GREEN is the new black this season!! 

Head to the link in our bio now and get your shirts, help a good cause and be an honorary part of Team Green this season! 💚
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Let’s hear it for our Executive Director of Napa Green, the incomparable Anna Brittain for being named a 2023 Wine Industry Leader by @winebusinessmonthly!! 

In their Sustainability Stewards section (which we love to see) we find Anna named in good company with inspired fellow leaders! 

Head to our stories or the link in our bio for free access to the full November issue. 

Cheers to the great work of our visionary Director Anna Brittain!!
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Drink Green this Halloween! 💚
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Sierra is our Soil & Climate Specialist at Napa Green and her ask this year is that everyone consider donating to our small but mighty Team Green for Giving Season! 

Here is more from @regenwithsierra: 

“🎃 Happy Halloween Eve everyone! Today is my birthday, and I would be beyond thrilled if you would consider a donation to @napagreen to support a nonprofit focused on climate action in the wine industry 🍷🍾

@napagreen has the leading set of standards for sustainable practices, from soil to bottle. I am most proud of the work we do with winegrape growers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices in their vineyards. 

Please consider supporting us in our mission!  Click the link in bio for more! “
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Thank you for having us @visitnapavalley! We had a great time talking to visitors about the many sustainability practices our Napa Green wineries and vineyards employ! 

Stop into the Visit Napa Valley Visitor Center in Napa to learn more!
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