December 2020 Newsletter

Brassfield Vineyards, Lake County

A Note from Commission President

As the year draws to a close, we thank all who worked tirelessly to make harvest 2020 possible, especially vineyard workers, drivers and haulers, lab techs, and cellar workers. And we wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Debra Sommerfield


In this Issue…

ALERT: New Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation
Register for New Crew Lead Training Program
Save the Date: ‘Becoming Certified Organic’ Webinar, February 11
On Demand: Wine Enthusiast & LCWC Volcanic Wines Webinar
On Demand: ‘Becoming Certified Sustainable’ Webinar
Lake County Wines in the News
Grower Spotlight: Davis Weiss
Vineyard Industry Products (VIP)
Wine & Grape Marketplace
Weather & Climate Report



Cal OSHA logo

ALERT: New Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation

On November 30, a new workplace prevention regulation went into effect with the approval of Cal/OSHA’s “COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.”

For additional information on the regulation, employers can review the follow items:


Master Vigneron Academy logo

Register for New Crew Lead Training Program

Crew leaders and first-time supervisors are critical links in the vineyard workforce. A Master Vigneron Academy® Crew Lead Certificate program provides training for these important employees.

This program is designed for Lake County crew leaders and first-time supervisors with six months to five years of experience in their current position. Focusing on leadership, communication, and supervision skills, these courses prepare participants to be successful, effective leaders for their crews.

This four-part Spanish speaking series will be taught by Raul Calvo on January 12, January 19, February 2, and February 9 via Zoom. Please see printable flier for additional information.

Printable Flier in English
Printable Flier in Spanish

Apply today at

Space is limited. Application deadline is January 4, 2021.


MVA apply today button


Save the Date: ‘Becoming Certified Organic’ Webinar, February 11

Emily Farrant, Co-Founder, Two Leaves, LLC, will be joined by a panel of speakers to review the process of becoming Certified Organic. Additional details and registration information coming soon.


On Demand: Wine Enthusiast & LCWC Volcanic Wines Webinar

Wine Enthusiast & Lake County Volcanics Webinar banner
Wine Enthusiast & Lake County Volcanics Webinar banner

On November 17, LCWC partnered with Wine Enthusiast to host a webinar titled, How Soils in Volcanic Regions Create ‘Intensity of Place’, moderated by Jim Gordon. The webinar featured Joy Merrilees of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, Peter Molnar of Obsidian Wine Co., and Master Sommelier John Szabo. The webinar explored volcanic wine regions around the world and the influence of volcanic soils on winegrowing and winemaking in Lake County.

Watch the webinar

Wine Enthusiast webinar - Volcanic Wines


On Demand: ‘Becoming Certified Sustainable’ Webinar

On December 3, California Certified Sustainable Winegrowing auditor, Emily Farrant, Co-Founder, Two Leaves, LLC, demonstrated the process of becoming Certified Sustainable. Emily reviewed the online procedures for preparing certification audits and instructed on how to log into the portal and complete the assessment process.


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

Lake County Wines in the News

Congratulations to these Lake County wines, which Wine Enthusiast recently reviewed:

  • Chacewater 2015 Petite Sirah (Lake County): 90 Points
  • Chacewater 2015 Krev Malbec (Lake County): 94 Points (Editors’ Choice)
  • High Valley Vineyard 2018 Zinfandel (High Valley): 93 Points
  • Shannon Ridge 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Lake County): 90 Points
  • Shannon Ridge 2018 High Elevation Collection Zinfandel (Lake County): 92 Points
  • Shannon Ridge 2018 Buck Shack Small Batch Red (Lake County): 92 Points
  • Shannon Ridge 2019 Urgency Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County): 90 Points
  • Steele 2018 Cuvée Chardonnay (Sonoma County-Santa Barbara County-Lake County): 90 Points


Grower Spotlight: David Weiss

David Weiss, photo by Nathan DeHart

Farming Vineyards with an Engineer’s Frame of Mind

More than three decades removed from his graduation from Stanford University with an industrial engineering degree, David Weiss retains the attention to detail that established him as a leader among growers.

After leaving Stanford, David remained in the Bay Area working in the tech sector in engineering management and project finance for 11 years. In 1993, a European family offered him a job managing Quercus Ranch in Kelseyville, thus prompting his relocation to Lake County.

When David began farming in the region, the county mostly supplied grapes to wineries in neighboring Napa County and elsewhere. The Lake County Winegrape Commission that David would one day chair was only a year old. At the time, a shift into the wine industry would seem daring, but David made the move and quickly gained momentum as Lake County’s winegrape production expanded.

He formed Bella Vista Farming Company in 2000 and began managing properties. A year later, the European investors sold their property. But David and Bella Vista remain decades after he and his family arrived in Kelseyville. “The business has grown.” David says. “And now Bella Vista manages quite a few vineyards and a few pear orchards. It’s been a good ride.”

Shaping the Landscape of Lake County Vineyards

David has stood steady amid the ups and downs of his industry, in a place where the rules were being written and rewritten in real time.

“When we came to this county in 1993,” he says, “the vineyards were sort of old school, old technology, old spacing. We didn’t have the right varieties planted in the right places. And drip irrigation had hardly been thought of at that point. So a lot was happening in the industry.”

That was fueled by a group of pioneers that included Jed Steele, Clay Shannon, and Andy Beckstoffer. Those growers mastered the nuances of winegrowing in Lake County’s now-famous high-elevation volcanic soils, and brought the region’s reputation to new heights.

“In the late ’90s,” David says, “there were a lot of grapes planted in California. Wineries came to Lake County that had not really been very active here in the past. They offered contracts and people started planting new vines. We grew pretty rapidly.”

With the growth came similarly rapid advances that carried the Lake County wine industry past other regions. “With new rootstocks, spacings, drip irrigation technology, and different kinds of trellising, all of a sudden, we had new vineyards, whereas many other regions were still primarily older styles. That had an impact on the attractiveness of our fruit, our techniques, and our land.” Collaboration is Key for Lake County Winegrape Growers

David contends that part of the success is due to the tight community of winegrape growers in Lake County. “Growers here have always been very collaborative and very cooperative. We, as a group of growers, have earned some credibility,” he says. “There are many benefits to be had. And not just visual and ecological, but economic benefits.”

He says that growers have taken care to help provide a foundation for the next generation, a fact that buoys him.

“One of the things that we’ve done really well here, perhaps better than other regions, is bring along the workforce that we rely on, not just through pay but through educating them about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it so that they can not only understand it, but contribute more.”

For David and Bella Vista Farming, it’s not simply about growing grapes but growing a sustainable future for the region.


Affiliate Sponsor

Vineyard Industry Products (VIP)

Thinking about an electronic pruner? Your questions about the Felcotronic Electronic Pruner are answered here:

Watch the video

VIP video of Felcotronic electronic pruner


LCWC Grape Marketplace

Grape & Wine Marketplace

For an up-to-date listing of Lake County grapes and bulk wine for sale, visit the Marketplace page.


Weather Banner

Weather & Climate

“High pressure is in play at least for the first week to ten days of the month, bringing seasonal temperatures, dry conditions, and valley fog for the usual spots. La Niña conditions in the Tropical Pacific dominant the 90 day forecast from December to February, with California and the central to southern states forecast to be warm and dry…”

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


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    LCWC Board Meeting 3:00 pm
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    Jun 26 @ 7:30 am – 11:30 am
    Soil Health and Irrigation Water Management @ Thomas Mauritson Vineyards
    In-the-Vineyard Tailgate Session for Spanish -Speaking Vineyard Workers LEARN HOW TO… Assess, restore, and maintain soil health Implement sustainable farming practices Develop irrigation management plans Event Details Wednesday, June 26, 2024 7:30 a.m. – 11:30[...]
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    Jun 26 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
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