Lawsuit further exposes Resnick’s plans to clear cut oak woodlands

July 12, 2016
Hardham Ranch reservoir under construction.

Hardham Ranch reservoir under construction.

A lawsuit filed in 2012 provides a peek into how Justin Vineyards, a company owned by Beverly Hills billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, clear cuts oak woodlands while constructing massive reservoirs that drain underground water sources in order to continue growing their agricultural empire.

In 2012, Keith Garl, the owner of A-1 Tree Service of Nipomo, filed a breach of contract lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court against Justin Vineyards and Winery. Justin Vineyards had asked Garl to remove 17,000 trees, 15,000 of which were oak trees, from a 100 acre property on Chimney Rock Road west of Paso Robles.

For his work, Justin Vineyards agreed to pay Garl $200,000 and allow him to make a profit selling the wood. However, Justin Vineyards only paid Garl $60,000 and canceled the contact before Garl finished his work or sold the wood.

Representatives for Justin Vineyards said the company terminated Garl’s contract because he hadn’t met a deadline to clear cut the 100 acres within 90 days. Garl said Justin Vineyards had not informed him of the deadline.

In 2013, Judge Jac Crawford agreed with Garl and awarded him $444,112.

Starting in 2010 with the purchase of Justin Winery, Resnick, through his wholly-owned The Wonderful Company, has been purchasing multiple acreages in the Paso Robles area. Since then, Resnick company holdings have grown to more than 1,600 acres in San Luis Obispo County.

In late 2012, the Resnicks bought the 747 acre Hardham Ranch, which until then had been used for dry farming and cattle grazing. Within a short time, the Resnicks removed oak trees, planted vines and installed two large reservoirs said to hold a total of 184 acre feet of water, according to a 2013 CalCoastNews exclusive.

At the same time, the neighbors wells were going dry and Resnick employees were lobbying San Luis Obispo County Supervisors to promote a proposed Paso Robles basin water district. Earlier this year, voters rejected the proposed district by a 77 percent vote.

Water pipes laid out at Hardham Ranch

Water pipes laid out at Hardham Ranch

In 2016, Justin Vineyards and Winery violated San Luis Obispo County grading code when it removed thousands of oak trees from at property at 750 Sleepy Farm Road in rural Paso Robles. Workers removed the trees in preparation for planting a new vineyard that would be added to Justin Vineyards’ collection. The project also involves the construction of a 20-acre-foot water storage pond.

However, following community outrage, the Resnicks apologized and offered to donate the land to the county or the Land Conservancy.

On Friday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will discuss passing an ordinance to protect oak woodlands and to place limits on water reservoirs.


This further exposes the horribly ugly and highly undesirable behind-the-scenes actions of profit-hungry vineyards. I wonder just how many acres and millions of trees have already been clear-cut on the Central Coast and around California in the name of producing wine. This further demonstrates the negative impact that the human species is having on our planet. And now we are facing global challenges from human-created climate change. I somehow thought (hoped) that our human species was at least somewhat intelligent. It is now very apparent that is not the case. The “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” is now occurring on a global scale. No matter, it will all be wonderfully solved when our beautiful Sun goes through its death throws, consuming Mercury, Venus and Earth in its expansion and eventual collapse. Just like all animal life on Earth, including humans, our grand solar system has a finite life. In the end, the evolution of the Universe will have the final say.

Indy thinker

Give the Resnicks a break. They just want to transform the beautiful Paso area into something they are more accustomed to in LA. No trees to clean the air, no water below ground in wells where its stored naturally in aquifers and they probably would like that pesky open space filled with development


Resnick folks are nuts. How about a consumer boycott. Where are the Friends of the Earth or Sierra Club?


At least 4 years ago they were clear cutting oaks? Unbelievable! That proves beyond any doubt that their apology and claim they didn’t know what was happening on Sleepy Farm was an outright lie!

I swear I am getting sick of people like this. And now one of them might be president!


I’m sorry but if you’re an ethical arboriculurist, you should never agree to clear-cut an oak woodland for profit, aside from what might be law at the time. It’s unethical and makes you look just as bad as those spearheading the operation.

Most arboriculturists enjoy helping create beautiful snd more functional places for society to live; this doesn’t fit.

Jorge Estrada

A reservoir ordinance or irrigation ordinance, same thing?


I remember the entitled liberals who made comments after the Resnicks got caught and apologized last month.

To those suckers…. please don’t vote. You are missing the common sense gene.


To clarify…. those suckers thought the Resnicks had simply made a mistake and were so gracious to apologize. Sigh


Well said ‘mej’. I believe many people fail to do simple research on the Web, which for the most part is at their fingertips. Laziness, comes to mind when specific questions are not asked, whether it’s from liberals or conservatives.

Taking such issues that deal with the environment at a commercial level, and what it implies for the greater community are avenues to be taken seriously; especially, where people such as the Resnicks and others of similar character are concerned.

Journalism can only place just so much clarity in articles, it’s up to the readers to think… but then again there seems to be many smiling sheep in the audience as they cobble to the slaughter house.


Time to tie up Stuey and his plastic faced wife to an oak in Paso’s downtown park and let us all throw eggs at them for a few days. These folks are the absolute worst part of our society. They are die hard liberals that are entitled just like the gross lying Hillary. Let’s try them for treason against the environment.


Resnick has contributed to both the Republicants and Democratic political campaigns. They also exert a lot of influence politically in other ways by setting up coalitions to things like Saving the Delta (where they took water) and then blamed the striped bass rather than water exports for the decline of the fish population. They promote policies that deplete fish, water and California’ s environment all for their profit. I personally don’t think Resnick is a die hard liberal. I think he’s a self serving, money grubbing jerk who doesn’t care what it takes to rape the environment and leave people literally in the dust. They grease both sides of the political line so that they look concerned, but then do the opposite when it comes to natural resources. They are pigs.

Josey Wales

Ladies & Gentlemen,

There can no longer be any doubt that the Resncik’s have absolutely no social conscious and look down upon common people as peasants. I say we must continue to boycott the Wonderful Co., as well as Justin Vineyards and winery.

If you’ve ever tasted their wine products, you know that you will not be missing much!

Boycot Justin

Boycott Wonderful Co.