Fire and Disaster Assistance Forms and Materials
USDA RMA Clarifies Testing Requirements for Crop Insurance Claims
The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) and partners with approved insurance providers to offer crop insurance policies to farmers and ranchers.
RMA recently posted an FAQ clarifying several issues regarding wildfires, grape smoke exposure, and crop insurance claims.
With the significant backlog at accredited testing labs throughout the West Coast, RMA has given insurance providers flexibility in determining acceptable testing requirements for crop claims.
“The Grape Crop Provisions do not provide coverage for the inability to market the grapes for any reason other than actual physical damage from an insurable cause of loss. Therefore, lab tests are required to substantiate the loss is from smoke that was due to a “wildfire” as the result of an insured COL and not due to market related conditions. Lab tests must be performed by an independent lab, accredited lab, or other credible source (for example, winery lab with the resources to perform such a test). Documentation must indicate the location of the field, the results of the test (may be attached), the lab name, and any accreditations that would indicate the lab/chemist was qualified to perform the appropriate test, such as by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.”
UC Davis Resources: Q&A Session, Micro-Fermentation Video, FAQ
The UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology is providing numerous resources about the potential risk of smoke impact from recent events on the West Coast to assist grape growers and wineries.
Dr. Anita Oberholster, Cooperative Extension Specialist in Enology, has created a video to assist grape growers with protocols for micro-fermentations and is hosting a Q&A Session via Zoom on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at 2:00 pm (Pacific). In addition, the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force, with members from California Association of Winegrape Growers, Oregon Wine Board, Washington Winegrowers, and industry leaders, has released a Frequently Asked Questions document.
- Video: Step-by-Step: How To Do Small-Scale Fermentations for the Evaluation of Grape Smoke Exposure Risk
- Q&A Zoom Session on September 15, 2020: Office Hours with Dave and Anita, Episode 12: Q&A with Dr. Oberholster
- FAQ: West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Frequently Asked Questions
UCCE Paper Shows Lake County Baseline Compound Levels
A paper recently prepared by Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension Winegrowing and Plant Science Advisor, Emeritus, for Lake and Mendocino Counties, provides an analytical baseline for determining whether winegrapes in Lake County have been impacted by the presence of smoke. The paper is based on sampling research conducted in 2019 in collaboration with local grapegrowers and the Lake County Winegrape Commission Research and Education Committee.
According to the paper:
We have no reason to believe that there is a natural contribution to volatile phenolic compounds [guaiacol and 4-methyl guaiacol] in Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards not exposed to smoke. There is no indication that Sauvignon Blanc vineyards produce background levels of volatile phenolic compounds either.
In short, this means that if these phenolic compounds are detected in grapes or wines, their presence is likely due to smoke impacts. These compounds do not occur naturally in the grapes.
Grape growers may be able to use this research, for example, when discussing possible insurance claims due to the impact of wildfires.
Research Project on Effects of Smoke from Wildland Fires
The Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) has initiated a collaborative research project with key industry partners to further the understanding of effects of smoke from wildland fires on grapes and wines in an effort to provide actionable insights. This research project comprises regional sampling, data gathering, weather- and fire-related GIS modeling, and sensory analysis.
Project partners include Lake County Winegrape Commission, UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension, ETS Laboratories, the Australian Wine Research Institute, Western Weather Group, Lake County Air Quality Management District, and individual winegrape growers and vintners.
Winegrape growers and vintners interested in assisting with this research project can submit sample results to LCWC by completing a form and submitting it along with a copy of the analysis from a certified lab.
For questions, contact LCWC President Debra Sommerfield at: (707) 279-2633
Press Releases & Related Articles
Grape Growers Look to Offset Losses From Smoke
January 30, 2019. A winegrape-growing region wracked by wildfires wants to learn more about the impact smoke has on grapes, while growers look to crop insurance and disaster relief to offset some of their losses. Read More
Lake County Winegrape Growers Focus Post-Fire Relief Efforts On Research
November 15, 2018. With an increase in the number and duration of large wildfires, the California wine industry is working together to explore ways to combat the effect of smoke exposure and fire damage on winegrapes and wine. Industry leaders in Lake County, a region that has experienced multiple devastating wildfires in recent years, are leveraging data gathered in the most recent wildfire as a means to find solutions that will help wineries and grape growers minimize the impact from these natural disasters. Read More
Lake County Wine Industry Status Update: Limited Impact of the Mendocino Complex Fire to the Wine Region
August 16, 2018. Since August 2, 2018, the active fire perimeter of the Mendocino Complex Fires shifted into remote forest wildlands around 15 to 30 miles north of Lake County vineyards. Additionally, as of Wednesday, August 8, 2018, thousands of residents were able to return to their homes as evacuation orders lifted for most Lake County towns. Lake County winegrape growers are glad to see people back in their homes and back to work, striving for normalcy on all accounts. Read More
Mendocino Complex Fire Status Report: Impact to Lake County Wine Industry
August 2, 2018. According to CALFIRE, as of Thursday morning, containment for the Mendocino Complex Fire reached 39 percent. The complex includes two wildland fires, which both began the afternoon of July 27, 2018, in Mendocino County and moved into Lake County. Lake County winegrape growers are committed to the highest quality fruit. At this time, only a few growing areas are just beginning to experience veraison. Growers in the impacted area are proactively monitoring the status of their vines and will be testing their fruit over the coming days. Read More
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