January 25, 2024




This Week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • 30 Years of the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium
  • Unified State of the Industry
  • CAWG Awards of Excellence Reception
  • New Leadership - PD/GWSS Board
  • Governor's Race
  • Rich Smith Award Presented to Nick Dokoozlian
  • CAWG is Hiring: Administrative Assistant

Industry News:

  • Wine Is A Gift From God, Pope Francis Tells Italian Producers
  • Grape Crush Boundary Change Regulations Additional Hearing Scheduled
  • Defining Regenerative Agriculture Work Group Established
  • CDFA Announces Grant Funding for Healthy Soils Program

Upcoming Events:

  • LODI RULES Grower and Winery Meeting
  • Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association 2024 Grower Seminar
  • Sonoma Grower Education Meeting
  • UC Davis Viticulture & Enology Office Hours: Information about Spotted Lanternfly
  • U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit


Second invoices were mailed earlier this week! Need a copy of your invoice? Contact Mindy DeRohan.


30 Years of the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

The Unified Wine and Grape Symposium (Unified) just wrapped up its 30th show! In 1995, 500 attendees and 20 tabletop exhibitors gathered in a single hotel ballroom for the very first Unified Symposium. Today, more than 10,000 people from around the world gathered in downtown Sacramento to attend dynamic keynote sessions, cutting-edge breakout sessions, and the infamous trade show - because it all happens at Unified!

Below are quick facts about the 2024 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium:

  • 10,000+ Attendees
  • 900 Exhibits – Largest ever!
  • 95+ Speakers
  • 23 Educational Sessions
  • 18 Regions Poured Wine during the Regional Tasting

Quote of the Week:

“The other thing I learned during crush was that ‘it's a great vintage’ no matter what,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross during her Keynote Speech at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium luncheon.

Unified State of the Industry

2024 will be a year of reaction. That was the theme of CAWG Board Member and Allied Grape Growers President, Jeff Bitter's presentation during the standing-room-only State of the Industry session. Bitter urged growers throughout the state to look at their operations, as its estimated the industry needs to remove more than 50,000 acres of winegrapes to keep pace with the decline in wine sales.

Bitter was joined by Mike Veseth of the Wine Economist, Danny Brager of Brager Beverage Alcohol Consulting, Steve Fredricks of Turrentine Brokerage, and Susana Garcia Dolla of Interprofessional del Vino, Spain. The panel presented a comprehensive look at all aspects of the winegrape and wine industry.

Some key takeaways from the panel include:

  • The overall consumption of wine is down globally. The lack of demand has led to a market oversupply.
  • The wine industry needs to meet the consumer where they are.
  • 19,000 vines were sold in 2023 which equates to roughly 19,000 new acres. 20,000 acres need to be removed to accommodate the planting. Cabernet and Chardonnay are the still lead in the production of red/white vines.
  • Growers are planting at a reasonable pace, but removals aren't aligned with market demand.
  • Weak wine shipment performance since 2022 has magnified the over-supply problem.
  • Excess supply is an industry-wide challenge.
  • 11 CA wine brands grew in single digit sales, 8 CA brands by double-digits.

Read more about the UW&GS State of the Industry from Wine Business and Wine-Searcher.

CAWG Awards of Excellence Reception

This week, CAWG recognized and celebrated its 2024 Grower of the Year, Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, and its 2024 Leader of the Year, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. With these awards, CAWG seeks to recognize excellence in winegrape growing and exceptional leadership that has benefitted the entire grower community. 

Thank you to all who attended CAWG's Awards of Excellence Reception. Special thank you to the event sponsors, Relation Insurance, NAU Country, G3, and American Vineyard Magazine for helping to recognize our industry pioneers and leaders.

Congratulations again to our award recipients, and thank you for your meaningful impact on the CA winegrape industry.

Learn more about CAWG's 2024 Awards of Excellence Recipients.

New Leadership, PD/GWSS Board 


This week, the Pierce’s Disease and Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board met in Sacramento and elected its new leadership team: Randy Heinzen as Chair, Trey Irwin as Vice-Chair, and Jeff Bitter as Treasurer. Will Drayton of Treasury Wine Estates has wrapped up his term as chair.  


  • Randy Heinzen is the President of Vineyard Professional Services, Inc. in Paso Robles, which manages vineyards in San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and San Mateo counties. 
  • Trey Irwin is the Senior Vice President, Agriculture at Tejon Ranch in Lebec. 
  • Jeff Bitter is the President of Allied Grape Growers in Fresno, which is a grower-owned winegrape marketing association. Bitter is also a CAWG director. 


PD/GWSS board members are appointed by the Secretary of Food and Agriculture and serve two-year terms. CAWG thanks Drayton for his tremendous leadership, especially in the trying times coming out of the pandemic and facing fiscal challenges in the industry.  


NOTE: CAWG and Wine Institute are sponsoring AB 1861 (Addis, D-Morro Bay) which would extend the Pierce’s Disease Control Program through 2031 subject to approval in 2025 through a grower referendum. The Program and the Board have been crucial in protecting vineyards from Pierce’s Disease and other pests to winegrapes in California.  

Governor’s Race

With California’s election for President and US Senate coming up very soon, the political focus lately is largely on federal races. While the election for Governor of California is not until 2026, the field of candidates is starting to shape up and is also worthy of note.

Last week, Toni Atkins and Betty Yee both announced their candidacy. Additionally, former baseball player Steve Garvey is starting to poll very well in his race for Senate, spurring rumors that if he loses the Senate race, he will be running for Governor in 2026. Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is in charge of the State Senate and is widely viewed as a pragmatic leader who takes a problem-solving approach to her job. Betty Yee (D-San Francisco) has a career in public service, most recently as State Controller and then as Vice-Chair of the CA Democratic Party. 

Steve Garvey (D-Los Angeles) is making his first bid for elected office and seems to be doing well with GOP and moderate voters. If he doesn’t hit it out of the park in the Senate race, he may take a second at-bat in the race for Governor.

These three candidates add to a field that already includes Attorney General Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) who has yet to make a formal announcement and Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D-Sacramento)

All of this could become more timely should President Biden decide to pull out of the race, thereby opening the door for Governor Newsom to run for President now, instead of waiting until 2028.

Rich Smith Award Presented to Nick Dokoozlian

The eighth annual Rich Smith Award of Excellence for outstanding contributions to the American grape and wine industry was presented to Nick Dokoozlian, Vice President of Winegrowing Research at E. & J. Gallo Winery. The award was presented at the Winegrape Growers of America luncheon during the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium.


The annual award reflects the accomplishments of the late Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management and Smith Family Wines in California’s Santa Lucia Highlands wine region.

Read more.

CAWG is Hiring: Administrative Assistant

CAWG is excited to announce that it is currently accepting applications for a part-time administrative assistant.

An ideal candidate will provide administrative, clerical, and computer support for the association aiming to deliver comprehensive administrative assistance, facilitate efficient communication among team members, ensure seamless coordination of tasks and events, and enhance overall productivity.

This is a part-time position, averaging 20-25 hours per week, with an hourly rate. This position offers room for growth, with the potential for increased hours and responsibilities.

Interested candidates should submit their resume, cover letter, and any inquiries to Carolee Williams.

Please share with those who may be interested.

Industry News

Wine Is A Gift From God, Pope Francis Tells Italian Producers

Pope Francis recently emphasized the divine nature of wine, calling it a "gift from God" and "a true source of joy" for its consumers. Italian wine producers quickly embraced these words, opposing European health warnings.

The Pope shared these sentiments during a private gathering at the Vatican with winemakers from various regions of Italy, stating, "Wine, land, agricultural expertise, and entrepreneurial spirit are divine gifts entrusted to us by the Creator. Through our sensitivity and integrity, we transform them into a genuine source of joy."

Italy has resisted efforts to impose mandatory health warnings on alcoholic beverages across the EU. This resistance is in response to Ireland receiving approval from the European Commission to implement such measures. The decision in Ireland, which has sparked protests from Italy, Spain, and six other EU member states, involves the introduction of health warning labels on bottles of wine, beer, and spirits starting in 2026.

Read More

Grape Crush Boundary Change Regulations Additional Hearing Scheduled

CDFA has scheduled an additional regulatory hearing for February 28, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. to be held virtually regarding proposed amendments to California Code of Regulations, Title 3, Division 3, Chapter 2, Article 1 – Reports by grape processors. The Notice was originally published on June 9, 2023 in Notice Register 2023, Z2023-0530-02.


The date and location of the regulatory hearing is as follows:

Date and Time: February 28, 2024 at 10:00 AM

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82828708910?pwd=TDF5M1EwQTdlbWxFWS96UVYya2x1dz09

Meeting ID: 828 2870 8910

Passcode: *YveyY6r

Call in: (669) 444 9171

Call In Passcode: 35645164


For more information, visit CDFA's website.

Defining Regenerative Agriculture Work Group Established

CDFA has established a Regenerative Agriculture Work Group to assist the State Board of Food and Agriculture in defining “Regenerative Agriculture.” The 13-member group represents a diversity of agricultural stakeholders and members of the State Board and EFA SPA.

The Regenerative Agriculture Definition Work Group will consider input from the public and CDFA’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel proposed framework to draft a recommendation for a definition of regenerative agriculture. The draft definition is anticipated to be submitted to the State Board for consideration in June 2024.

The department anticipates up to three public meetings in Sacramento. These meetings will allow the review of feedback provided through public listening sessions, discussion on key elements of a regenerative definition, and development of a draft definition for consideration by the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

CDFA Announces Grant Funding for Healthy Soils Program

CDFA has announced that approximately $12 million in grant funding is available through the Healthy Soils Program Incentive Grant Program. This initiative aims to boost the widespread adoption of conservation management practices across the state, enhancing soil health, capturing carbon, and mitigating atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Applications are open for California farmers, ranchers, business entities, California Native American tribes, and non-profit organizations. Project proposals can seek funding of up to $100,000 per project.

Learn more on the Healthy Soils Program Incentive Grants webpage.

Upcoming Events and Trainings

LODI RULES Grower and Winery Meeting

The LODI RULES Community gathers each year to connect, discuss the previous certification year, and learn something new. This annual meeting will provide attendees with the latest resources to get the most out of LODI RULES. This meeting will include a “Pathways to Profitability” panel discussion and a LODI RULES PEAS 2.0 self-calculating Excel template created by PCA Nick Sysock.

We’re offering both an in-person event on January 18 in Lodi and a virtual option on January 19.

When and Where:

  • January 18, 10 AM - 4 PM, Burgundy Hall, Lodi Grape Festival Grounds, Lodi
  • January 19, Virtual

Learn More

Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association 2024 Grower Seminar

Join the Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association (SVVGA) for thier annual grower seminar. The meeting will focus on the state of the winegrape industry, 2024 regulatory changes, State and Federal legislation changes, and new technology for aerial assessments of vineyards.

Speakers will include Natalie Collins, CAWG President, Michael Miiller, CAWG Director of Government Relations, and Jeff Bitter, Allied Grape Growers, and CAWG Director.

When and Where:

  • February 6, 7:30 - 11:30 AM, Bally Keal Estate, Suisun Valley

Sonoma Grower Education Meeting

Join the Sonoma County Winegrowers, California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau for a Grower Education Meeting. The meeting will focus on updated tax laws and tax preparation, and an update on state and federal issues. 

Speakers will include Natalie Collins, CAWG President, and Michael Miiller, CAWG Director of Government Relations. 

When and Where:

  • February 27, 9-11 AM, Sonoma County Farm Bureau Office, Santa Rosa

Register Here

UC Davis Viticulture & Enology Office Hours: Information about Spotted Lanternfly

Join UC Davis Viticulture & Enology Office Hours for a an information session focused on Spotted Lanternfly.

Cindy Kron, UCANR Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake Counties, will give a short presentation about Spotted lanternfly followed by a Q&A session. Topics will include the origin and current US distribution, host plants and preferred host plants (tree-of-heaven and grapevines), identification of life stages, and how and where to report sightings. It is free to attend but registration is required. 

When and Where:

  • March 5, 1-2 PM, Zoom

Register Here

U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit

Join the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and co-hosts from California, Washington, New York, and Oregon for the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit.

Explore innovative sustainable and climate-beneficial practices implemented in vineyards and wineries nationwide, along with insights into the broader value chain. Find inspiration and gather ideas for effectively communicating sustainable winegrowing narratives to both consumers and the trade. Join discussions and connect with like-minded individuals committed to sustainability in the wine industry.

When and Where:

  • April 30 - May 1, Lodi

Register Here - Early Bird Registration Ends February 29!



23-25 - Unified Wine & Grape Symposium

23 - 2024 Awards of Excellence Reception

24 - WGA Annual Leadership Luncheon

24 - CAWG PAC Event During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium


14 - The Winegrape Update


1 - CAWG Foundation Scholarship Deadline

12 - CAWG Advocacy Day and CAWG Foundation Reception



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