August 2019 Newsletter

Vineyards in Lake County with mountain and sunburst by Nathan DeHart

In this Issue…

July Session of Master Vigneron Academy®
Third Smoke Impact Sensory Analysis Tasting
Discover California’s Overlooked Cabernet Sauvignon
CAWG’s Statewide Updates
ConeTech Pioneers Way to Remove Smoke Taint from Wine
Lake County Wines in the News
Grape & Wine Marketplace
Weather & Climate

July Session of Master Vigneron Academy®

The 2019 Master Vigneron Academy®; class met for their seventh session by visiting the University of California at Davis, Guillaume Grapevine Nursery, and NovaVine Nursery with LCWC Educational Programs Director, Paul Zellman. The class will meet again in August and graduate in November.

Master Vigneron Academy (MVA), 2019 learning in the vineyard

The Master Vigneron Academy is the first of its kind anywhere. Created in 2012 by the Lake County Winegrape Commission, the MVA remains ahead of the curve in recognizing that the key to quality winegrapes and sustainable practices is based on the professionalism of those in the vineyard. Learn more about the Master Vigneron Academy.

Third Smoke Impact Sensory Analysis Tasting

On July 31, as part of the Lake County Winegrape Commission’s Wildland Fire Smoke Impact on Winegrapes Research Project, a select group of winemakers assembled for a third time to taste the 27 micro-fermented samples taken from 14 locations across Lake County.

The first round of tasting was conducted in November 2018, the second round was conducted in April 2019, and this third and final round concludes the year-long pilot research project.

The tasting was led by UC Cooperative Extension’s Glenn McGourty, who also led the sampling, processing, and fermentation work, and Dr. Anita Oberholster of the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department. The tasting was conducted blind with individual results submitted anonymously.

In the coming months, the results of the research will be released as a case study. The Commission and UCCE also will continue collaborative work by leading an initiative to come up with regional baseline levels as a means to provide data to assist growers and buyers in the future. Learn more

Third Smoke Impact Sensory Analysis Tasting.  Guests are analyzing and documenting the impacted wine

Discover California’s Overlooked Cabernet Sauvignon

Ed. note: This article, written by By Jim Gordon and Matt Kettman, originally appeared on the Wine Enthusiast website.

California's Other Cabernets Photo (c) Meg Baggott, Wine Enthusiast

While offerings from Napa continue to take top billing, other regions of the state are producing distinct, expressive bottles worth exploring… A surprising number of Northern California’s highly recommended Cabernet Sauvignons don’t come from Napa or Sonoma…

Lake County, which borders Napa County on the north side, is home to producers Hawk and Horse Vineyards and Obsidian Ridge, both of which make ageworthy, estate-grown Cabernets with luxury price tags. Napa-based Spoto Family Wines also just released a premium bottling from here, Beckstoffer Amber Knolls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Closer to the coast, two Mendocino County wines are must-buys for their quality-to-price ratios: McNab Ridge Family Reserve Largo and the Barra Estate Grown…

Read the full article

CAWG’s Statewide Updates

By Michael Miiller, Director of Government Affairs for the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG)

Dealing with Smoke from Wildfires

CAWG logo

Legislators and regulators are moving quickly to respond to the new and tragic wildfire reality facing California. This summer, a new regulation will likely take effect creating new standards for how to protect workers who are exposed to wildfire smoke in the workplace.

To comply with this new standard, growers might first want to stock up on N-95 masks. If there is a wildfire causing an Air Quality Index (AQI) of between 150 and 500 at the workplace, growers will be required to make N-95 masks available for voluntary use by workers. A fit test and medical evaluation of the worker are NOT required.

Because wildfires can burn for several days, growers will need to anticipate lengthy wildfires and have enough masks on hand so that they are available if/when needed. Growers will want to avoid the situation of ordering masks in a hurry only to find that because of the high demand there are none in stock.

The standards contain other requirements for notifying workers, etc. Growers should discuss this with your HR staff to determine how this affects you and what you need to do to comply.

* * *

Are Workers Employees or Contractors?

On September 13, the legislature will conclude its work for the first year of the 2019-20 legislative session. One of the most controversial bills is AB 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) which affects how growers (and other industries) determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

The bill addresses a 2018 California Supreme Court decision Dynamex v. AFSCME which created an “ABC” test for determining whether a worker may be treated as an independent contractor rather than employee. AB 5 places Dynamex into law but also provides specified exemptions for persons performing specific duties in certain professions.

The key criteria in the ABC test requires that the worker perform work that is outside the usual course of the company’s business. For growers this means that shipping harvested grapes, vineyard development, pest management and other independent contractor services could actually be employment under Dynamex and AB 5.

This is a very complicated area of law with differing and evolving court rulings that go back to the 1940’s. How the legislature acts (or doesn’t act) on AB 5 will have a long-term effect on the services of independent contractors.

Affiliate Sponsor

Santa Rosa Lab, ConeTech, Pioneers Way to Remove Smoke Taint from Wine

ConeTech has gotten attention among winemakers since the company is on track to treat 1 million gallons of wine made from tainted local grapes by year end.

ConeTech is using its proprietary technology to treat wine made from such grapes to remove the odors and taste – which has been described as ashtray-like and tar. The company claims those smells have not reemerged with the wine that has so far been processed. It’s still working on a protocol for third-party testing. Read more

ConeTech lab, photo by Kent Porter / The Press Democrat

A ConeTech filtering system has allowed the company to remove smoke taint from winegrapes affected by the last few years of wildfires. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Lake County Wine in the News Banner with microphone and six glasses of white wine set up for a technical tasting

Lake County Wines in the News

Congratulations to these Lake County wines, which Wine Enthusiast recently scored 90 points or better:

  • Boatique 2018 Sauvignon Blanc: 90 Points
  • Hawk and Horse 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 Points (Cellar Selection)
  • Hawk and Horse 2014 Petite Sirah Red Hills Lake County: 92 Points (Cellar Selection)
  • Kuleto Estate 2016 India Ink Red Lake/Napa: 90 Points
  • Porlier 2015 Petite Sirah: 90 Points (Cellar Selection)
  • Rock Wall 2017 Red Blend High Valley: 91 Points
  • Shannon Ridge 2017 Red Hills Ranch Reserve Chardonnay: 90 Points
  • Sol Rouge 2016 Viognier: 93 Points
  • Sol Rouge 2015 Gypsy Rouge Red Red Hills: 93 Points
  • Spoto 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Amber Knolls Vineyard (Red Hills): 93 Points (Cellar Selection)
  • Two Angels 2018 Sauvignon Blanc High Valley: 90 points (Editors’ Choice)
  • Urgency (Shannon Ridge) 2018 Sauvignon Blanc: 90 Points
  • Vigilance (Shannon Ridge) 2018 Sauvignon Blanc: 91 Points

LCWC Grape Marketplace, vineyard workers harvesting red wine grapes

Grape & Wine Marketplace

For the full listing of Lake County grapes and bulk wine for sale, visit the Marketplace page of the LCWC web site.

Grapes For Sale

45 tons of Sauvignon Blanc, Big Valley AVA. Contact Pilar Luchsinger: 707-489-2632 or

150 Tons of Sauvignon Blanc, Clear Lake AVA, CSWA Certified Sustainable. Contact Nick Schlies, Sandy Bend Vineyard: 925-963-8587 or

30+ tons of Cabernet Franc, Red Hills AVA. Contact Craig Shannon: 707-349-7892 or

20 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills AVA, CSWA Certified Sustainable. Contact Mike Ryan: 707-900-1586 or

20 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, hand picked, Mt. Konocti shoulder. Small lot purchase orders are accepted. Contact Ron Ryskalczyk, Red Horse Ranch: 707-295-6400 or

50 – 60 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills AVA. Contact Bob Fraser, Jago Bay Vineyards: 707-291-2048 or

Weather Banner

Weather & Climate

“The forecast through mid-month indicates a warm start to August becoming seasonal through mid-month then warming to slightly above average later in the month with no major heat events. Some precipitation is forecast for the extreme northwest, but not much expected, while the rest of the west should stay dry…”

Download the August weather report (PDF) from Dr. Gregory Jones.


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