Winegrape Commission Seeks Assessment Information

October 23, 2012

Red wine grape clusters   The Lake County Winegrape Commission is beginning to collect the 2012 harvest year’s assessment payments and generate corresponding reports. Lake County grape growers and wineries should have received a request from the Commission for details of all sales and processing of winegrapes during the past two years.

All winegrape growers in the county are required to pay an assessment on winegrapes grown and marketed. In most cases, the grower does not pay the assessment directly, according to Lake County Winegrape Commission office manager Susan Peters, who has sent reminder letters to Lake County growers. Remittance of the assessments is usually completed by vintners who purchase and/or process winegrapes; the vintners deduct the amounts from the payments made to growers, Peters explained.

Under Commission law, in accordance with California Food and Agriculture Code governing commissions and marketing orders, winegrape growers are required to provide to the Commission the lists of vintners who buy or process grapes for them. “If the vineyard has been sold, we need to know that, too,” said Peters.

Information provided by the growers is cross-checked with details obtained from vintners, said Peters. “With this information in hand, the Commission can ensure that vintners have properly reported and remitted the required assessments on the growers’ behalf.”

Besides collecting the funds, the Commission is compiling important information about the vineyards, according to Peters. People are interested in certain data – elevation, soil, acreage, location, and the year a particular vineyard was planted. “Our new vineyard management program in development through SureHarvest will allow us to collect and provide that data,” she said.

Information provided by growers remains confidential. Only aggregate data is available as public information, the Commission representatives noted.

Assessment forms and letters are emailed out to all growers around the end of September, and another form is emailed to wineries around the same time. Forms and assessment payments are mailed to the Commission office where information from the forms is compiled and assessment amounts and payments are tracked.

The Commission’s operating budget is based on the funds collected from the assessments. The information also becomes useful for marketing activities.

If growers fail to report the names of buyers and processors, the Commission may be forced to seek payments from the growers directly rather than working with the vintners/buyers, said Peters. Growers and wineries are urged to complete the forms and make payments without delay to reap the benefits of the Commission’s work.

For additional information about the assessments and reporting requirements, call Peters at 707-279-2633, ext. 301, or find more information on the Commission’s website, www.lakecountywinegrape.org.

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