May 25, 2023




This week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • Lead Story: Clear Lake Tour
  • Bleak State Budget Outlook
  • CAWG Foundation Awards $44,000 in Student Scholarships
  • Utilizing Vineyard Insights to Inform Critical Decision Making Webinar Available
  • Nominations Open for CAWG's 2024 Grower and Leader of the Year
  • California Governor Confirms Unionization of Agricultural Employees Through “Card Check” Process - Additional Resources

Industry News:

  • Leadership Academy to Represent Sonoma County Agriculture this Summer in DC
  • Pandemic Revenue Assistance Program and Emergency Relief Program Phase 2
  • Census of Agriculture - Deadline to Respond is May 31
  • NRCS Delivers Climate Solutions through the Inflation Reduction Act

Upcoming Events

  • West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Smoke Summit
  • CAWG 401K Multiple Employer Plan & CalSavers Webinar
  • Canopy Management: Trellising, Sunburn, and Mechanization Workshop
  • Investigating Regenerative Practices in a Production Vineyard Workshop
  • Heat Illness Prevention Training
  • American Society For Enology and Viticulture National Conference

Happy National Wine Day!

Today, we raise our glasses to celebrate the winegrape growers of California. Their passion, expertise, commitment to sustainable practices, and cutting-edge techniques produce winegrapes that are used to produce our favorite wines! From rolling hills and coastal regions to valleys and mountain tops, California is home to approximately 615,000 acres of winegrapes that make some of the world's best wines.


Lead Story: Clear Lake Hitch

This week, state, federal, and local officials joined Lake County wine industry leaders in a tour of five creeks that flow into Clear Lake. The purpose of the tour was in part to educate members of the California Water Resources Control Board on threats to the Clear Lake hitch, which is facing extinction, and on efforts to protect the hitch. 

According to the Water Board, “The Clear Lake hitch is a large minnow found only in Clear Lake and its tributaries. The hitch used to number in the millions, but the population has been declining, and in 2014, California designated it as a threatened species. . . . Hitch are spawning in Clear Lake creeks now, but creek flows are starting to go down. If the flows get too low, hitch could become stranded and die.”

Jackson Family Wines, Bella Vista Farms, Lake County Winegrape Commission, and Lake County Farm Bureau were instrumental in putting the tour together and their efforts are greatly appreciated. 

Stream health was the primary focus of the tour. Stream flows have been negatively affected by stream barriers, the drought, and dumping, among other issues. Local tribes have asserted that water use from diversions and water wells have also reduced stream flows. Data is still being gathered to determine the actual effect, if any, of irrigation and frost protection on stream flows. 

The greatest threat to the hitch may be the lake itself. Lake health has suffered since the 1930s when mercury mining was big in Lake County. Clear Lake is the largest lake in California and the oldest in North America. Large algal blooms contribute to poor water quality in the lake and the lake is home to an invasive species of predatory carp that is multiplying in alarming numbers. 

CAWG and our Lake County growers are partnering with other industry groups and regulators to identify short-term actions that can be taken to protect the hitch while also identifying long-term threats that can be addressed to protect the hitch.  

Photos of the tour can be found here.

Bleak State Budget Outlook

This week, the independent Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) released its assessment of the proposed 2023-24 State Budget which was updated two weeks ago by Governor Newsom. In short, the LAO found that Newsom’s estimates are very optimistic, and probably $6 billion short. The LAO found that the budget deficit is roughly $34.5 billion. 

Below are a few key findings from the LAO.

  • It is very unlikely California will be able to afford Newsom’s spending levels.
  • LAO revenue projections are $11 billion lower than Newsom’s estimates.
  • If the Legislature adopts the governor’s proposals, the state will very likely face more budget problems over the next few years. The state faces annual budget deficits in the range of $14-20 billion per year after the upcoming budget year.
  • Multiyear one‑time and temporary spending commitments are no longer affordable.
  • Proposed spending delays are likely unaffordable.
  • A combination of dipping into reserves and reducing one‑time spending would help sustain core programs.

What this means for funding programs of importance to growers is uncertain but will be fleshed out in the next few weeks and months. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget and the governor must act on that budget by June 30. 

The Legislature will also likely pass several budget trailer bills before adjourning in September. Late trailer bills often include substantial changes in the budget and rewrite large parts of the budget.

CAWG Foundation Awards $44,000 in Student Scholarships

The CAWG Foundation awarded $44,000 in college scholarships to eight students whose parent or legal guardian is employed by a California winegrape grower.

"The scholarships, awarded annually by the CAWG Foundation, serve as a powerful testament to our profound gratitude for the families of vineyard employees. The workforce is the very essence of our industry, and these scholarships stand as a heartfelt expression of our immense appreciation," stated Davindar Mahil, Chair of the CAWG Foundation Board of Directors.

Thank you to CAWG members and the California wine community for your generous donations to CAWG Foundation scholarship funds. 


Four-Year University Scholarship Recipients | $8,000 each

  • Sofia Arredondo, Lakeport, Clear Lake High School
  • Harmandeep Batth, Lodi, Tokay High School
  • Faith Hunt, Lodi, Lodi High School
  • Julie Sporleder, Acampo, Galt High School
  • Juan Sanchez Velazquez, Santa Rosa, Roseland Collegiate Prep

Two-Year Community College Scholarship Recipient | $2,000

  • Edgar L. Jara, Santa Rosa, Roseland University Prep

Robert Miller Memorial Scholarship Recipient | $1,000

  • David Luera, Creston, Mission Prep High School
  • Mindy Diaz Jacobo, Lompoc, Cabrillo High School 

Read More about the scholarship recipients.

Utilizing Vineyard Insights to Inform Critical Decision Making Webinar Available

CAWG partnered with ViewView to host a webinar on May 23 focused on VineView's cutting-edge technology, transforming how grape growers monitor crop health. VineView's innovative approach uses specialized aerial-based spectral sensors and cloud-based image processing services to deliver ultra-high resolution aerial imagery and data insights. These insights can help growers make informed decisions about their vineyard health and optimize crop yield. The webinar explored VineView's unique methods for detecting veraison and scouting diseases, such as Red Leaf. 

Watch the webinar.

Nominations Open for CAWG's 2024 Grower and Leader of the Year

Nominations are now open for the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Awards of Excellence Program and are due June 9, 2023!

The Awards Program presents two awards annually: Grower of the Year and Leader of the Year. These awards are meant to spotlight exceptional people or companies who have benefitted the broader community of winegrape growers through exemplary leadership and outstanding commitment to the well-being of the winegrowing industry, California communities, and the environment.



For more information and to view past award recipients, please visit the CAWG website. For questions, contact Natalie Collins, President.

California Governor Confirms Unionization of Agricultural Employees Through “Card Check” Process - Additional Resources

As you may have seen in recent CAWG updates, Governor Newsom recently signed a bill into law (AB 113) clarifying that a “card check election” ballot method may be used for unions to organize at agricultural work settings in California. 


The law takes effect immediately, and amends last year’s controversial AB 2183.

Along with the resources included last week in CAWG's eNews, Fisher Phillips prepared an article that outlines the main points and how it will impact agricultural employees.

Industry News

Leadership Academy to Represent Sonoma County Agriculture this Summer in DC

Sonoma County Winegrowers announced last week, members of the first and second classes of the Sonoma County Fundación de la Voz de los Viñedos (formerly the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation) Leadership Academy gathered at Dutton Ranch where Congressman Mike Thompson surprised the group by announcing he was inviting them to visit Washington, D.C.

Along with his surprise announcement, Eric Edge of Alaska Airlines shared that not only is the group invited, but that Alaska Airlines will be donating the flights from San Francisco to D.C. for all.

While in Washington, D.C. this summer, the group will represent Sonoma County agriculture, tour the White House, and meet with members of the Wine Caucus. Participants will share their knowledge of farming and the leadership skills they have learned with policymakers who may not have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to grow grapes and make wine.


This was both a thank you and recognition for their incredible work for the community, which Thompson has represented since 1998.


The Leadership Academy is in its second year and is a year-long program that meets eight times for half-day classes between February and July. Each cohort consists of 15 to 25 class members. Participants, all vineyard employees in Sonoma County, are nominated to take part in the Leadership Academy each year to learn skills that will help them take on leadership roles in their jobs and community, including financial literacy, communications, sustainability, and more. These topics are taught by local subject-matter experts who work with the Fundación to elevate the agricultural community’s voice.

Read More.

Pandemic Revenue Assistance Program and Emergency Relief Program Phase 2

Producers may apply for two new important programs for revenue losses, from 2020 and 2021 natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic. Both programs equitably fill gaps in earlier assistance. 

Producers may be eligible for assistance through the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two if they experienced revenue losses from eligible natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. ERP Phase Two is for producers who didn’t receive assistance from ERP Phase One.  

Producers may also be eligible for the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) if they experienced revenue losses in the calendar year 2020. PARP is addressing gaps in previous pandemic assistance, targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses. 

Applications for both new programs are due June 2, 2023, both programs can be applied for during the same appointment with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). 

Census of Agriculture - Deadline to Respond is May 31

Agricultural producers have one more week to return their 2022 Ag Census Form to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Data collection ends on May 31 and producers can respond by mail or online at

Landowners who lease land to producers, those solely involved in conservation programs, and even those who may not have farmed in 2022 are still required to respond. Producers who received the ag census but do not fit the definition of a farm, are no longer farming, never farmed, or have another update for NASS should write their status on the form and mail it back. Ag census data are used by agribusinesses, educators, researchers, federal and local government, and many others when making decisions about farm programs, loans, insurance, rural development, disaster assistance, and more.

NRCS Delivers Climate Solutions through the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides $19.5 billion from fiscal years 2023 to 2027 for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements. Last February, NRCS announced it was making $850 million of those funds available in fiscal year 2023 for its oversubscribed conservation programs – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round and applications automatically carry over for consideration in future funding cycles. NRCS encourages producers to apply now so that they can take advantage of this opportunity for additional funding over the next few years. To receive consideration for the current funding cycle in FY23, producers should apply by their state’s program ranking dates

Upcoming Events and Trainings

West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Smoke Summit

The 2023 Smoke Summit will include updates and recent findings on wildfire smoke impacts from leading West Coast researchers. In addition, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will provide updates on research activities and future initiatives.


  • June 7, 1 PM, Virtual


CAWG 401K Multiple Employer Plan & CalSavers Webinar

Join CAWG and Woodruff Sawyer on June 8th to learn more about the power of a Multiple Employer Plan and see if this may be a good fit for your operation and employees.


The CAWG 401(k) Retirement Savings Plan offers employers all the advantages and flexibility of a stand-along plan without the expenses and administrative burden associated with sponsoring a single employer plan.


Register today to learn more about the plan and your options.


  • June 8, 11 AM, Virtual


Canopy Management: Trellising, Sunburn, and Mechanization Workshop

This workshop, hosted by Vineyard Team, will discuss topics surrounding trellising, sunburn, and more. Dr. Yu of CSU Fresno will talk about berry sunburn issues, trellis selection, canopy management practices, and mechanization compatibility. A grower panel including John Pierini and Zach Merkel of J. Lohr Vineyard and Wines and Eddie Urman of Vino Farms will discuss canopy management techniques.


  • June 14, 9 AM, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Paso Robles


Investigating Regenerative Practices in a Production Vineyard Workshop

In this Vineyard Team workshop, participants will explore regenerative farming methods. Attendees will visit a production vineyard with an ongoing, long-term investigation into the adoption of regenerative practices. Topics will include looking at SAP samples, soil samples, cover cropping, fertilizer programs, and stem water potential application in the field.


  • June 16, 9 AM, Jackson Family Wines, Soledad


Heat Illness Prevention Training

California requires that all employers comply with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard (§3395) and train their employees about prevention methods. The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is hosting a training for supervisors with Teresa Andrews, Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. The training will include 2023 regulatory updates and insights on the recent OSHA decisions regarding water at outdoor worksites. 


  • June 16, 2:30 PM, Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, Napa


American Society For Enology and Viticulture National Conference

The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) National Conference provides an ideal opportunity for networking among members of all U.S. wine and grape regions, as well as international experts and professionals. Join us for a week of focused learning in winemaking and grapegrowing, and reconnecting with friends and colleagues.

Learn the latest about Pierce’s disease and glassy-winged sharpshooter research at the 2023 ASEV National Conference. The PD/GWSS Board Research Seminar session will be moderated by PD/GWSS Board Research Coordinator Kristin Lowe.

ASEV offers all CAWG members their discounted member rate. If you would like to register using the discounted member rate, please call the CAWG office for your promo code.


  • June 26-29, Napa Valley Marriott

Visit ASEV's website to learn more about their National Conference.



7 - West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Smoke Summit

9 - CAWG 401K Multiple Employer Plan & CalSavers Webinar


13 - CAWG Annual Meeting (Virtual)



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