January 11, 2024




This Week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • FAQs Autonomous Ag Equipment
  • 2024-25 State Budget Unveiled 
  • CAWG Membership Renewals
  • CAWG Director Featured as one of Wine's Most Inspiring People
  • Opportunities During the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

Industry News:

  • Governor Newsom Declares Special Election for 20th Congressional District
  • UCD Viticulture & Enology Department Changes Chairs
  • TTB Announces 4 AVA Proposed Rules
  • Cal/OSHA and CDPH COVID-19 Changes
  • CDFA Awards $1.4 Million to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management
  • Registration is Open For the U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit
  • Tax Resources for USDA Program Participants
  • California Energy Price Data - December 2023

Upcoming Events:

  • John Duarte for Congress Reception During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
  • LODI RULES Grower and Winery Meeting
  • Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association 2024 Grower Seminar
  • Sonoma Grower Education Meeting

REMINDER: Register by January 16th to utilize your CAWG member discount for the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium!


FAQs Autonomous Ag Equipment

This week, CAWG released a FAQs document to help growers comply with California law when using autonomous ag equipment in vineyards. The use of autonomous (self-driving) ag equipment is on the rise due to environmental, worker safety, and fiscal benefits. However, existing workplace safety standards require that there be a person on board the equipment when the machine is in operation. 

The FAQs provide important information on the use of equipment without a driver on board. This is applicable when there is no one in the zone of danger or when the vineyard is not considered a workplace at the time the equipment is in operation. The FAQs are not intended to be legal advice but do provide valuable background information for consideration.  

In Short: Autonomous agricultural equipment may be used in a vineyard when no employees are present and therefore there is no employee exposure to any associated workplace hazard. It is important to take effective measures to prevent employee access to the areas surrounding the autonomous agricultural equipment when in use and document such measures and the specific areas where employees are working. 

Click Here for More Information

CAWG Membership Renewals - PLEASE RENEW TODAY!

Don't forget to renew your CAWG membership. All first invoices were sent in November, with second invoices going out next week!

Need a copy of your invoice? Contact Mindy DeRohan.

2024-25 State Budget Unveiled 


Yesterday, Governor Newsom rolled out his proposed state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2024. The biggest surprise was that he started from the premise that the budget shortfall was only $37.9 billion, which is significantly lower than the $68 billion projected by the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO).  


Newsom said that part of the difference is because he estimates higher savings from efficiency measures. The Newsom Administration also estimates revenues in the coming years will be higher – Conversely, the LAO forecasts a stagnating economy in the short term. 


Below are two key highlights of good news and bad news for winegrape growers.  


  • Bad News – Mill Tax Assessment: The mill tax is charged by the Department of Pesticide Regulation on the use of pesticides. The budget proposes a mill tax increase or $14.3 million in Fiscal Year 24/25, $21 million in FY25/26, and $24.9 million in FY26/27, with ongoing costs thereafter of $24.8 million. 


  • Good News – Exotic Fruit Flies: Early budget actions in January will include an immediate $22.1 million in funding for CDFA to support actions in response to the fruit fly problem California is currently experiencing.  


In the big picture, Newsom is taking the following actions (and more) to balance the budget

  • $8.5 billion in cuts, including a $2.9 billion reduction in funding for climate programs
  • $13.1 billion from the state’s reserve funds, which is about half of available reserves. 
  • $5.7 billion, which would largely come from an increase in the Managed Care Organization tax — a tax on certain health plans that was reinstated last year. 
  • Newsom is delaying action until May on funding any legislation approved in 2023. 


Side Note: Governor Newsom also called out the media a few times. Specifically, he criticized reporters who relied on the LAO estimate of the deficit instead of using the Newsom Administration estimate. Additionally, he took exception with media reports that Newsom supported the creation of a new “wealth tax”, which Newsom vehemently denied.

Read more in this article published by CalMatters: California has a budget deficit, but there's disagreement about how big. Who's right?

CAWG Director Featured as one of Wine's Most Inspiring People

Duff Bevill, the owner of Bevill Vineyard Management and a current CAWG Director, has been recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the wine industry. In 1978, Bevill Vineyard Management took root after Duff acquired his inaugural tractor through an auction. Today, he oversees 1,200 acres of premium vineyard land, employing 75 individuals year-round and more than 150 during the peak season.

Duff's unwavering dedication to Sonoma County winegrapes led to the establishment of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. This initiative aimed to cultivate an informal, grassroots network of vintners and growers who shared a common goal of investing in and fortifying their commitment to sustainability.

“I know the old timers here in Sonoma, and I know the new folks, too,” Bevill says. “We’re lucky to be in a special place with people who appreciate and want to preserve what we have for future generations.”

Read more about Duff here.

Exciting CAWG Opportunties During the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

There are several different CAWG opportunities to take advantage of during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium.

CAWG Member Discount - REMINDER

Your CAWG membership entitles you to a $200 discount on your 2024 UW&GS registration. To secure your pre-registration discount, you must register no later than January 16, 2024. The registration discount may be used for all employees of your company, so the more you register, the more you save! You will need your CAWG code to register. REGISTER HERE

Awards of Excellence Reception

The 2024 CAWG Awards of Excellence Reception will take place on Tuesday, January 23, at 6:00 PM, immediately following the Unified Welcome Reception. CAWG will be honoring Sangiacomo Family Vineyards as Grower of the Year and California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, as Leader of the Year. We invite all CAWG members to join at no cost. PRESS RELEASE

Thank you Awards of Excellence Sponsors!

WGA Annual Luncheon

It’s that time of year when nationwide industry members come together for the Winegrape Growers of America (WGA) Annual Leadership Luncheon. The luncheon will take place during the 2024 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, at the Hyatt Regency, in Sacramento.

Please join WGA for lunch, networking, a presentation from our keynote speaker, Ed Feuchuk with Tank Garge, and the honoring of an individual with the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award on January 24 at 11:30 AM. REGISTER HERE


Join the CAWG PAC for a rockin' good time at Ace of Spades on Wednesday, January 24 in downtown Sacramento. Live music will be on tap by Remedy 7, featuring our very own Michael Miiller (CAWG's Director of Government Relations) on drums. Sponsorship Opportunities are available! Be sure to get your tickets in advance online.


Industry News

Governor Newsom Declares Special Election for 20th Congressional District

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation this week announcing a special election for the 20th Congressional District on May 21, 2024. The primary for the special election will be held on March 19, 2024.

This special election is to fill the vacancy left by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who resigned from Congress last month. The race for securing McCarthy's seat for a full term in the November elections is already in progress, with a primary scheduled for March 5. Numerous GOP officials at the state and local levels, such as Assemblymember Vince Fong, former congressional candidate David Giglio, and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, have already entered the race.

UCD Viticulture & Enology Department Changes Chairs

The University of California, Davis (UCD) Department of Viticulture & Enology (V&E) recently changed leadership as Professor Dr. David Block stepped down as Department Chair after 12.5 years and Associate Professor Dr. Ben Montpetit was named Interim Chair.

Block's tenure as department chair ranks as the second longest in department history. After taking a break for a sabbatical leave, Block will focus more time on research and teaching at UCD. Block joined the V&E Department in 1996 and holds a joint appointment as a Professor in the UCD Department of Chemical Engineering.

"This seems like a good time for me to step down and let someone else come in with new ideas and a vision to lead the department into the future," Block said.

Block's research and leadership has been of tremendous value to CAWG and winegrape growers throughout California.

Cal/OSHA and CDPH COVID-19 Changes

On January 9, 2024, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) updated its COVID-19 Isolation Guidance, COVID-19 Testing Guidance, and State Public Health Officer Order. These updates impact Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations and the requirements related to isolating COVID-19 cases and testing of close contacts. 

As a result of these changes, Cal/OSHA has updated their COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations – What Employers Need to Know and their COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations FAQs webpage.

TTB Announces 4 AVA Proposed Rules

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has proposed to change the name of the established Mendocino Ridge American viticultural area (AVA) to create three new AVAs called Conneaut Creek, Tryon Foothills, and Nashoba Valley. These changes reflect petitions the TTB has received from local wine industry members. All comments on these proposals are due to TTB by March 5, 2024.

Mendocino Ridge Name Change: The TTB is proposing to change the name of the established Mendocino Ridge AVA, located in Mendocino County, California, to “Mendocino Coast Ridge.” The AVA is located within the established North Coast AVA. See Docket No. TTB-2023-0009 for all documents and comments related to this proposal. You may submit comments on this proposal electronically here.

CDFA Awards $1.4 Million to Improve Irrigation and Nutrient Management

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) has allocated $1.4 million in grant funding for six projects aimed at enhancing the understanding and application of improved nitrogen and irrigation management practices among California growers.

This funding is a result of the 2023 cycle of the competitive FREP Grant Program. The projects include:

  • Optimizing Potassium Fertilization Management in Almond and Pistachio Orchards
  • Estimating Mineralization and Nitrogen Utilization from Banded Compost Applications in Drip Irrigated Sweet Potatoes and Processing Tomatoes 
  • Improving Nitrogen and Potassium Management in Almond Orchards with Hulls and Shells as a Soil Amendment and Off-Ground Harvest
  • Nitrogen Movement Out of Root-Zones in Central Valley Irrigated Lands: A Multi-Scale Management, Monitoring, Modeling and Outreach Project 
  • No-Till Planting of Rice to Conserve Water and Ensure the Sustainability of Rice Systems
  • Facilitating Grower Adoption of Cover Crop Nitrogen Scavenging to Minimize Residual Nitrogen Loss and Comply with the Irrigated Lands Water Quality Protection Program (Ag Order 4.0) on the Central Coast of CA

Summary of Funded Projects

Registration is Open For the 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, held in Lodi, April 30 - May 1.

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.

Early bird registration ends on February 29, 2024. Learn more and register here.

Tax Resources for USDA Program Participants

USDA issues tax forms 1098 and 1099 forms for farm loans, conservation programs administered by the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service including the Conservation Reserve Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program, crop disaster payments, and the Market Facilitation Program. USDA also issues tax forms for recipients of assistance for distressed borrowers, including through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act. 

USDA has partnered with experts to provide resources to help you make the right tax decisions for your operation. Monthly webinars are available for registration and to view on demand at https://www.farmers.gov/working-with-us/taxes.  

The Tax Estimator Tool is an interactive spreadsheet that producers can download to estimate tax liability. It is for informational and educational purposes and should not considered tax or legal advice. Producers may need to work with a tax professional to determine the correct information to be entered in the Tax Estimator Tool. 

Learn more here.

California Energy Price Data - December 2023

California’s energy price rankings had minor improvements at the end of 2023, however, they continue to remain at, or near the highest, among the contiguous states. Average commercial electricity, gasoline, and diesel prices were again the highest, and industrial electricity the second highest.

California had the highest gasoline and diesel prices among the contiguous states and DC. While remaining 56% higher than the average paid in the other states, gasoline prices again saw a drop, with the average California gasoline price down 30 cents from November, and the US average for the other states and DC down 18 cents. The December average price per gallon of diesel in California eased 37 cents from November to $5.53.

Read More

Upcoming Events and Trainings

John Duarte for Congress Reception During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium

Join John Duarte for Congress along with the California Association of Winegrape Growers for a reception immediately following the Awards of Excellence Reception at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. Click here to learn more about CAWG member and Congressman John Duarte.

When and Where:

  • January 23, 7-8:30 PM, Tequila Museo Mayahuel, Sacramento

Register Here

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, Village 360, 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



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


1 - CAWG Foundation Scholarship Deadline

12 - CAWG Advocacy Day and CAWG Foundation Reception



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