Bad news for grape growers
SANTA ROSA — Most of the Napa and Sonoma winegrapes have been sold, but Mendocino and Lake Counties still have about 5,000 tons of grapes left on the vines.
A slowdown in wine sales and a grape glut resulted in low prices for grapes, and resulted in some not selling at all. Wineries bought grapes from Napa and Sonoma for prices as much as 50 percent to 75 percent below what they paid in 2001.
While this year’s surplus was bad news for grape growers, consumers are expected to benefit from good quality grapes at low prices.
“With this harvest, there’s a huge inventory of high-quality wine,” said Charles Barra, a Mendocino County grower and owner of Redwood Valley Cellars. “It will be a benefit for consumers because it means great wine at lower prices.”
The grape surplus comes as a result of 20,000 acres of new vineyards planted in the 1990s coming into production at a time when wine sales are slowing because of the depressed economy.
Ice cream shop robbery
VACAVILLE — The Vacaville Police Department is investigating the robbery of an ice cream shop that occurred at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
The suspect entered the Baskin Robbins at 812 Alamo Drive and demanded the cash in the register, but did not display any weapon, police say.
After the cashier complied with the demand, the suspect took the cash and ran north on El Camino Drive. No vehicle was seen near the ice cream shop, police say.
Police describe the suspect as a white male, approximately 30 years old, 6 feet 2 inches, 200 pounds, who was last seen wearing a puffy black jacket and a black camouflage baseball cap.
Any citizen with information regarding this crime is encouraged to call the Vacaville Police Department at (707) 449-5200.
Sunnyvale man pleads guilty
to avoid life sentence
SAN JOSE — To avoid life in prison, a Sunnyvale man pleaded guilty to molesting three young girls, including a high school freshman who shot herself after leaving a suicide note incriminating him.
Richard Stone, 65, agreed to a 14-year prison term Thursday, just weeks after authorities discovered a page-long love letter to Sarah Van Cleemput, 14, of Sunnyvale.
“I had promised you and myself that I would never touch you again,” Stone wrote to the girl in November 1999. “Sarah, my beautiful darling, I know that I made that promise. But I cannot trust myself to keep it. If another opportunity like that happens again, I will kiss you passionately.”
Stone was arrested in May, but before finding the letter prosecutors had been worried about proving the case since the victim was dead. Stone also molested two other girls, including a 12-year-old who had said she felt nervous about testifying.