June 2023 Newsletter

Beckstoffer Vineyards, Red Hills AVA, Spring shoot thinning, LCPS

In This Issue…

LCWC at International Volcanic Wine Conference
Momentum 2023 Recap
Lake County Winegrape Commission Awards Scholarship
LCWC Seats New Board Members
News from Wine Institute, CAWG, & CSWA: Wildfire Prevention
News from CAWG: Recreation of the Industrial Welfare Commission
Community Spotlight: Erica Lundquist
Grape & Wine Marketplace
Weather & Climate Report
Affiliate Sponsor: Circadian Crop Sciences
Affiliate Sponsor: Vineyard Industry Products


LCWC Promotes Lake County Region at International Volcanic Wine Conference

The Lake County Winegrape Commission continued its outreach to trade professionals at the International Volcanic Wine Conference in New York City on June 21. Jonathan Walters of Brassfield Estate Winery, Joy Merrilees of Shannon Ridge Family of Wines, Bruce Regalia of Wild Diamond Vineyards, and Bryan Kane of Sol Rouge poured wine for attendees and promoted the region.
Jonathan Walters and Joy Merrilees in NYC
Bryan Kane & Bruce Regalia in NYC
LCWC collaborated with Master Sommelier John Szabo to host a masterclass for 40 wine professionals at the event. Jonathan Walters, Joy Merrilees, and Arpad Molnar of Obsidian Wine Co. held a panel discussion focused on volcanic activity in Lake County and conducted a technical tasting of Lake County wines.
masterclass in NYC
On the day before the conference, LCWC hosted an invite-only press event at Il Gattopardo for 10 wine writers where John Szabo led a volcanic presentation and technical tasting of Lake County volcanic wines. Attendees then enjoyed lunch and additional wines from the region while engaging with Lake County’s representatives.
Press lunch in NYC
Photos provided by Colangelo and Partners.


Lake County Pruning School & Momentum 2023

Lake County Pruning School logo

Momentum 2023

Jacopo and Jett from Simonit & Sirch at Momentum 2023

The Lake County Winegrape Commission announced the second year of Lake County Pruning School, which launched in December 2022 and sold out, benefiting more than 100 attendees. Presented in both English and Spanish, the immersive Lake County Pruning School is the first of its kind for a regional organization and was created in collaboration with Simonit & Sirch, the renowned grapevine pruning school with more than 30 years of research and experience, and a client list that includes some of the world’s preeminent vineyards.

In early June, the Commission presented Momentum 2023, its annual grower seminar at the Soper Reese Theatre in Lakeport, California, and highlighted the first year of Lake County Pruning School. The event offered a detailed overview of the program and its benefits for attendees. The Pruning School segment started with Simonit & Sirch Master Pruners Jacopo Miolo and Jett Johansson providing an overview of the program, which comprises a theoretical introductory online lesson and three days of practical hands-on lessons in the vineyard — two days during the winter for vine pruning and one day during the spring for shoot thinning. The program provides in-depth fundamental principles applicable to all grapevine training systems, such as controlled branching, vascular flow, cuts and crown buds, and protective spare wood.

Benefits of the program were discussed during a grower panel moderated by Jonathan Walters, Chair of the Lake County Winegrape Commission and General Manager of Brassfield Estate. The panel provided insights from five speakers, including Bruce Merrilees, Owner of Castilleja Farms LLC; Tony Medina, Ranch Foreman at Cache Creek Vineyards; Chris King, Vineyard Manager of Catspaw Vineyard; as well as Miolo and Johansson of Simonit & Sirch. The panel was followed by a practical demonstration by Jennifer Thomson from FELCO, who showcased the company’s new cordless electric pruning shears.

“We are thrilled with the success of the first edition and look forward to enhancing next year’s classes with Simonit & Sirch” says Debra Sommerfield, President of the Lake County Winegrape Commission. “The delivery of classes in both English and Spanish allows us to meet the educational needs of all vineyard workers and we’ll continue with this approach for the next edition.”

Lake County Pruning School is designed for vineyard owners, vineyard supervisors and crew leaders, and experienced vineyard workers. Each class enables one-on-one learning and an opportunity to exchange ideas and techniques with others in the cohort.

Footage of the Momentum event can be found on the LCWC website.

RESERVE A SPACE NOW:

2023-2024 Lake County Pruning School registration is coming soon. Spots can be reserved by emailing Lake County Winegrape Commission at events@lakecountywinegrape.org


Lake County Winegrape Commission Awards ‘Future of Ag’ Scholarship

The Lake County Winegrape Commission recently awarded its second “Future of Agriculture” scholarship to Emma Mertle, a senior graduating from Clear Lake Lake High School.

The $5,000 scholarship was presented on behalf of Lake County Winegrowers during Clear Lake High School’s Senior Scholarship and Awards Night by LCWC Board Member Pilar Luchsinger White.

2023 scholarship winner


LCWC Seats New Board Members

At its May meeting, the Lake County Winegrape Commission seated the four Board Members elected by eligible winegrape growers to serve the 2023-2025 term: new Board Members Andre Gueziec of Mount St. Helena Vineyard, Jonathan Holzapfel of Diamond D, Joy Merrilees of Castilleja Farms LLC, and incumbent Pete Dodson.

The Board appointed the following officers for this year: Jonathan Walters as Chair, Joy Merrilees as Vice-Chair, and Pete Dodson as Secretary-Treasurer.

The other grower members serving on the eight-member Board include Clay Shannon of Shannon Ranches, Pilar Luchsinger White of Luchsinger Vineyards, and Padraic Sherlock of Beckstoffer Vineyards.

We thank each of them for their dedication to serving our industry.

board members


News from Wine Institute, CAWG, & CSWA: Wildfire Prevention

WI, CAWG, CSWA logoThe Wine Institute, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and California Association of Winegrape Growers have compiled some helpful resources to keep wildfire prevention top-of-mind as the drier months of the year approach.

Wildfire Preparedness Webinar Recording
On May 24, 2021, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), Wine Institute, and the California Association of Winegrape Growers hosted a Wildfire Preparedness Webinar focused on wildfire preparedness for vineyards and wineries, featuring Tom Knecht, Pre-Fire Division Chief Sonoma Lake Napa Unit, CAL FIRE and Rich Casale, Consultant, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Other topics included available grants for wildfire prevention and preparedness and insurance issues related to wildfires. Watch the webinar.

CalFIRE’s Fire Preparedness Website 
Find a wide range of resources and information to keep you informed and prepared for wildfires.

California Department of Insurance Website
Learn the ins and outs of insurance claims, the potential benefits of wildfire mitigation actions, and types of insurance that will keep you and your assets protected.

California FAIR Plan Website
The FAIR Plan provides basic insurance coverage for properties unable to acquire traditional insurance. The website will help you contact a broker to inquire about FAIR Plan protection.


News from California Association of Winegrape Growers: Recreation of the Industrial Welfare Commission

Submitted by Michael Miiller, Director of Government Relations

This week, the legislature approved a new budget bill that primarily includes funding provisions related to state spending. Within those provisions is an appropriation of $3 million for recreation of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) which had been defunct since 2004. The IWC has broad authority to create wage and hour law on an industry-by-industry basis. Several years ago the IWC created Wage Order 14 for agricultural employers.

AB 102 also provides that with this new funding, the IWC shall not adopt “any standards that are less protective than existing state law.” This means that the IWC could only adopt standards that are more prescriptive than existing law. These standards (i.e. new law) would be adopted without going through the legislature and without going through a publicly noticed regulatory review.

Furthermore, the bill makes it clear that the IWC may be looking at agriculture – “The commission shall prioritize for consideration industries in which more than 10 percent of workers are at or below the federal poverty level.” Nearly a quarter of California farmworker families live in poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

While the motives for recreating the IWC are likely targeted at the fast food industry, labor unions may push the IWC to take on issues in the ag industry that might otherwise be difficult to move through the Legislature. This may include creating new requirements addressing the following:

  • Increase minimum wage
  • Expand paid leave
  • Require hazard pay
  • Redefine ag employment
  • Shorten the workday
  • Expand break periods
  • Set work schedules in advance

The five members of the IWC are appointed by the governor. The IWC is required to be composed of two members of labor organizations, two representatives of employers, and one representative of the general public. In practice, this means that the general public appointee will likely be someone who supports the labor unions. Therefore, the goals and requests of the labor unions may be received very well by the IWC.

This new law was made public in the last minutes of budget deliberations over the weekend and the California Association of Winegrape Growers and other ag organizations are opposed.

On the plus side, AB 102 provides that the IWC “Shall convene by January 1, 2024, with any final recommendations for wages, hours, and working conditions in new wage orders adopted by October 31, 2024.” So, there is a modest level of hope that this is a temporary recreation of the IWC and that it goes away quickly without much consequence.


Community Spotlight: Erica Lundquist, NRCS District Conservationist

Recently appointed as District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for Lake and Mendocino Counties, Erica Lundquist discusses her role and vision for the region.

Erica Lundquist’s newly appointed position is a win for the region and Lake County winegrowers alike. Erica hopes to help growers in a multitude of ways, citing conservation programs aimed at identifying strategies to improve water quality and funding pools that subsequently could be used to help fund those initiatives.

Helping has been at the heart of Erica’s vocation for more than a dozen years. She has worked that long as a soil conservationist in the Ukiah field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). She is now fulfilling that role in Lake and Mendocino Counties.

Erica and her husband moved to Lake County roughly 25 years ago, starting a walnut farm in the valley flatlands of the county. “We’re the real thing,” she says of Lake County growers, proud to include her husband and herself in the group.

Her connections to the county run deep. She co-authored the Clear Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan and wrote watershed assessments for Kelsey, Scotts, and Middle creeks. She also served for five years as the viticulturist for the Lake County Winegrape Commission.

“Lake County has an ideal climate and ideal soils,” she says. “We did studies and were able to see that growers use fewer pesticides in this county than others, and I think that’s related to the climate. We get cold winters and dry summers. We have great hillside soils for red winegrapes and valleys for white winegrapes. Growers have demonstrated that they’re producing high-quality winegrapes,” she says, “and they are doing it in a sustainable way.”

Sustainability, Erica says, is a key ingredient for success, which she defines as that which “you pass on to the next generation.” To get there, Erica advises: “Look at how you’re managing your resources and see if there’s a way to adjust so that we can get on to the next century in good shape.”

At NRCS, she works to provide technical and financial assistance to help growers realize goals of sustainability and to get the most from their harvest in an era when nature’s challenges are as rich and diverse as the land under growers’ feet.

Like so many of her neighbors, she hopes the community can provide opportunities to keep and draw young people while retaining the bucolic splendor that separates Lake County from almost everywhere else.

“I like the fact that so much of the county is still kind of wild country,” Erica says. “Here, we’ve got these beautiful pockets of farmland, and it’s surrounded by a lot of natural land, and we have this beautiful lake in the middle of it. I find that a great thing.”

Erica plans on doing her part to help keep it that way for generations to come.



LCWC Grape Marketplace

Marketplace

For an up-to-date list of Lake County grapes and bulk wine for sale, bookmark the Marketplace page of the LCWC website.

Grapes for Sale

20 tons 2023 Cabernet Franc, Mount St. Helena Vineyard, Middletown, Certified Sustainable and in an organic transition, Andre Gueziec: 650-770-6484andre.gueziec@proton.me

252 tons 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount St. Helena Vineyard, Middletown, Certified Sustainable and in an organic transition, Andre Gueziec: 650-770-6484andre.gueziec@proton.me

28 tons 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon, Kelsey Bench, Certified Sustainable, Jeanne Scherer: 707-685-5323adobecreekvines@gmail.com

30 tons 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon, Big Valley District, Luchsinger Vineyards, Clone 8, Certified Sustainable by CSWA, Pilar Luchsinger White: 707-489-2632pilar@luchsingervineyards.com

20-25 tons 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon, Upper Lake Valley, Certified Organic by CCOF. Mature vineyard. 3309 rootstock, Thurston Williams: 707-275-9315clovercreekfarm@gmail.com

10-15 tons 2023 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, Certified Sustainable by CSWA and Certified Organic by CCOF, Michael O. Ryan: 707-900-1586, moryan45@gmail.com

45-50 tons 2023 Chardonnay, Big Valley District, Jay Singh: 707-540-1105thompsoncreekvineyard@gmail.com

70 tons 2023 Merlot, Kelsey Bench, Luchsinger Vineyards, Clone 8, Certified Sustainable by CSWA, Pilar Luchsinger White: 707-489-2632,pilar@luchsingervineyards.com

15-18 tons 2023 Merlot, Wildhare Vineyard, Kelsey Bench, Certified Organic, Allen Sonneville: 707-245-9332, wildharevineyard@outlook.com

90 tons 2023 Petite Sirah, Mount St. Helena Vineyard, Middletown, Certified Sustainable and in an organic transition, Andre Gueziec: 650-770-6484andre.gueziec@proton.me

20 tons 2023 Sangiovese, Kelsey Bench, Certified Sustainable, Jeanne Scherer: 707-685-5323adobecreekvines@gmail.com

Bulk Wine for Sale

370 gallons 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County, Six Sigma Ranch, Christian Ahlmann: 707-350-1820, Christian@SixSigmaRanch.com

620 gallons 2022 98% Cinsault, High Valley, Shannon Family of Wines, Organic, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com

3,552 gallons 2022 96% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 96% Red Hills, Shannon Family of Wines, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com

1,068 gallons 2022 Mourvèdre, High Valley, Shannon Family of Wines, Organic, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com

245 gallons 2021 Petit Verdot, Lake County, Six Sigma Ranch, Christian Ahlmann: 707-350-1820, Christian@SixSigmaRanch.com

4,018 gallons 2022 Red Blend: 40% ZN, 18% SY, 9% PV, 8% ME, 5% CS, 4% BA, 3% MA, 3% MV, Shannon Family of Wines, Organic, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com

668 gallons NV Red Blend, Lake County, Six Sigma Ranch, Christian Ahlmann: 707-350-1820, Christian@SixSigmaRanch.com

455 gallons 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, Six Sigma Ranch, Christian Ahlmann: 707-350-1820, Christian@SixSigmaRanch.com

15,912 gallons 2022 Zinfandel, High Valley, Shannon Family of Wines, Organic, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com

19,563 gallons 2022 Zinfandel, Red Hills, Shannon Family of Wines, Joy Merrilees: 707-281-6780, joy@shannonridge.com



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Weather & Climate

View June report from Dr. Gregory Jones.


Affiliate Sponsor: Circadian Crop Sciences

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Affiliate Sponsor: Vineyard Industry Products

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Meetings

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    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays 4:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    Jul 17 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    Grower Conversation Series: Winegrape Wednesdays @ The Mercantile
    You are invited to attend the Grower Conversation series hosted by Lake County Winegrowers. This series aims to connect growers, buyers, and industry experts to discuss the climate of today’s market. Each conversation will feature[...]
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