All Eyes On Sonoma...

Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW) has long been advocating for the county’s winegrape growers, while educating the community on the importance of protecting and preserving Sonoma County as a winegrowing region. Now, in the third year of its ambitious five-year plan to have 100 percent of the county’s winegrapes sustainably grown by 2019, the organization is garnering national and international attention for its efforts, promising to increase both the visibility and the profitability of its grapes.

“I thought it would be meaningful, especially locally, if Governor Brown recognized us as sustainability leaders,” says Bevill. Full article

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Seller’s market for grapes bolsters spirits at Winegrape Commission’s dollars & $ense Seminar...

A dramatic turnaround in the wine market is sharply increasing prices for grapes, bolstering the spirits and optimism of growers beaten down over the last several years by sluggish demand, low prices and hellish weather during harvest.

The optimism and high spirits were almost palpable at the 21st annual Dollars & $ense Seminar, held Jan. 19 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, where a record crowd of more than 550 people, mostly grape growers, vineyard managers and viticulture industry vendors, cheered the positive news of the rapidly changing market for Sonoma County grapes.

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission sponsors the annual Dollars & $ense Seminar, which serves as a sort of ‘State of the Wine Grape” address for the year ahead. The theme of this year’s seminar was “Preparing for Tomorrow.” The market outlook presented atthe seminar has been gloomy the previous two years but this year it was extremely positive and encouragingly upbeat. The turnaround has suddenly created a seller’s market for growers as wineries rush to secure grapes from this year’s harvest and beyond.

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The art is in the pruning: Growers look for the best techniques, fastest pruners...

Pruning winegrape vines is an art. And it’s one that, in the dead of winter, can set the stage for the year’s vines – and wines.

“Pruning is important because it really sets your crop potential for the coming year,” said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “It’s important to create a balanced vine and a reasonable crop yield – not excessive, which doesn’t make good wine quality, but not so low that you really don’t have potential for profit,”

But before one even considers getting out the red-handled pruning shears and setting out into the vineyard, one has to know what type of pruning is being undertaken.

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President’s Report & Keeping up with Regulations...

President’s Report

Growers in the Russian River Watershed will be operating under the new Frost Regulation passed by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on September 20. The Sonoma County Frost Ordinance may fulfill the requirements of state regulation while maintaining a locally controlled program that includes an inventory of frost systems that rely on water for protection and a stream monitoring program to determine if or where stream reaches might be impacted during frost events. Sonoma County growers have again stepped forward to shape the regulation with a commitment to protect our fisheries while protecting our grape crop from frost. Growers do not like having more regulation and the permitting costs associated with it. But given the limits on use of water for frost protection proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) two and a half years ago, progress was made. The key elements of the new regulation for growers who use water for frost protection in the Russian River Valley watershed are as follows:

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AB 243 (Assembly Member Luis Alejo)...

AB 243 requires a farm labor contractor (FLC) to disclose the name and address of the entity or entities that secured that contractor’s services on the pay stub of the FLC’s employees. Vineyard management companies licensed as FLC’s will have to comply with the new requirement. The bill is similar to bills vetoed in years past. The plain purpose of the legislation is to strengthen the nexus of liability between the illegal acts of a farm labor contractor and the farmer who contracted with that FLC. Despite broad agricultural opposition, the bill was signed by the Governor’s office.