June 1, 2023




This week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • Lead Story: Insurance and Goats
  • Wine and Grape Magazine: The Increasing Importance of CAWG in an ever-changing industry and political landscape
  • Nominations Open for CAWG's 2024 Grower and Leader of the Year
  • Joseph Brinkley of Bonterra Organic Estates Honored with Climate Smart Agriculture Groundbreaker Award

Industry News:

  • Redefining WOTUS: Supreme Court Decision in Sackett v. EPA
  • Deadline Extended for ERP Phase 2 and PARP
  • CA Lawmakers and Autonomous Vehicle Industry Battle Over the Future of Self-Driving Trucks
  • Growers Spend $500,000 Per Year on Automation

Upcoming Events

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

West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force Smoke Summit

There is still time to register for The 2023 Smoke Summit, which will be held next week on June 7! The full agenda for the summit is available online.

Register here!


Lead Story: Insurance and Goats

As California enters wildfire season, insurance and goats are getting a lot of attention.

Insurance -- This week, State Farm Insurance announced they are pulling out of the property insurance market in California as they believe the risk in California is just too great. The good neighbor company said they are leaving the Golden State due to “historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market.” The loss of this insurance coverage option will no doubt push more property owners to the California FAIR Plan, which is the state-run insurer of last resort.

Property insurance companies have long argued that premiums in California don’t reflect real risks and are artificially low due to regulatory controls at the Department of Insurance. The State Farm departure is viewed by some industry experts as the "canary in the coal mine" of California’s fragile property insurance marketplace. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has yet to comment on this developing situation.

Goats -- Managing vegetation is critical in managing wildfire risks. Targeted grazing is part of California’s strategy to reduce wildfire risk because goats can eat a wide variety of vegetation and graze in steep, rocky terrain that’s hard to access. Goats offer an eco-friendly alternative to the use of herbicides or machines.

However, California’s ag overtime and minimum wage laws are creating problems for grazing operations. These laws mean goatherders would be entitled to higher pay — up to $14,000 a month. Last year, a budget trailer bill (AB 156) delayed that required increase requirement for one year, which means the increased pay requirements would take effect on January 1, 2024 if nothing is done to change the law.

AB 1099 (Dahle, R-Bieber) would address this problem by keeping the carve out for sheepherders in place indefinitely and extending that carve out to goatherders. AB 1099 has been referred to the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee (Kalra, Chair) but the committee has not set the bill for a hearing. This means that if the issue is going to be addressed again this year, it would likely need to be through a new budget trailer bill. 

Wine and Grape Magazine: The Increasing Importance of CAWG in an ever-changing industry and political landscape

The May edition of Grape and Wine Magazine features a contribution from CAWG, highlighting its evolving role and growing significance within the dynamic wine industry and political landscape.

The article emphasizes CAWG's commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends and advocating for the interests of winegrape growers throughout California, and also highlights some of the associations main bills, regulatory, and budget priorities for the year.

Read Article

Nominations Open for CAWG's 2024 Grower and Leader of the Year - Applications Due in ONE WEEK!

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.

Check out our 2023 Grower and Leader of the Year, featured in the May issue of the Grape and Wine Magazine.

Read Article

Nomination Forms:


Joseph Brinkley of Bonterra Organic Estates Honored with Climate Smart Agriculture Groundbreaker Award

Joseph Brinkley, Director of Regenerative Farming at Bonterra Organic Estates (CAWG Grower Member), has been honored with the prestigious 2023 BICEP Climate Smart Agriculture Groundbreaker Award by Ceres, a nonprofit organization. Brinkley's significant contributions to the Ceres Climate Smart Agriculture and Healthy Soil Working Group, as well as his tireless advocacy for regenerative organic agriculture, have earned him this recognition.

As the largest Regenerative Certified® winery in the United States, Bonterra Organic Estates takes pride in Brinkley's commitment to advancing environmentally sustainable farming practices. His involvement in the CSAHS Working Group has led to impactful policy changes benefiting the agriculture and viticulture communities. Brinkley has also been actively engaging in legislation advocacy, promoting a forthcoming U.S. Farm Bill that prioritizes regenerative organic agriculture and equitable agricultural practices.

Read More

Industry News

Redefining WOTUS: Supreme Court Decision in Sackett v. EPA

Last week, a significant development occurred regarding the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The U.S. Supreme Court has released its highly anticipated opinion in Sackett v Environmental Protection Agency.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of WOTUS from previous interpretations. The Court has clarified that the term "waters" in the CWA refers specifically to geographic features commonly understood as "streams, rivers, oceans, and lakes," as well as adjacent wetlands that share a continuous surface connection with those bodies of water. This decision significantly reduces the expansive reach of the "significant nexus" standard that was previously applied.

The "significant nexus" standard, established in the Rapanos v. United States case and recently reaffirmed by the Biden Administration's Revised Definition of Waters of the United States, had created challenges and uncertainty for our members in permitting and project approvals. The standard necessitated extensive and often costly consultant and legal analysis to determine applicability.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Sackett v EPA brings much-needed clarity to the regulated community, including our winegrape growers, who have been grappling with the ambiguity surrounding WOTUS jurisdiction. This decision provides a clearer understanding of which waters fall under federal jurisdiction and will alleviate some of the burdens associated with permitting and compliance.

However, it's important to note that the full impact of this ruling on environmental permitting in California is yet to be determined. In our state, there is a separate program addressing "waters of the state" that may come into play where federal jurisdiction no longer applies. When waters of the state was adopted in 2019, CAWG successfully pushed for crop land and routine ag operations to be excluded from waters of the state. 


We will closely monitor any developments in this area and keep you informed of any implications for our industry.

Read more:

Deadline Extended for ERP Phase 2 and PARP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline for the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two and Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) to July 14, 2023, to give producers more time to apply for assistance. The original deadline was June 2.  

More Information

CA Lawmakers and Autonomous Vehicle Industry Battle Over Future of Self-Driving Trucks

A bill in California that mandates the presence of a trained human safety operator whenever a heavy-duty autonomous truck vehicle operates on public roads is gaining momentum. The bill has passed the state's Assembly and will now undergo a committee review and vote in the Senate. Supporters argue that the legislation is crucial for ensuring road safety and protecting truck drivers' jobs. However, autonomous vehicle (AV) companies and industry representatives claim that the bill is unreasonable, threatens California's competitiveness in the autonomous vehicle and trucking industries, and hampers technological advancements that can save lives.

If the bill becomes law, it will limit the California Department of Motor Vehicles' authority to regulate autonomous trucks, specifically those weighing over 10,001 pounds, until a safety evaluation is conducted. The evaluation will assess the impact of AV technology on public safety and employment in the trucking sector. The legislature will then decide whether to maintain, modify, or remove the requirement for a human safety operator. The earliest possible timeline for autonomous trucks operating without a human in the front seat would be 2030.

This legislation does not apply to autonomous ag equipment but mirrors an existing regulation requiring a driver be on board an autonomous tractor. CAWG continues pushing for a change to that 50-year-old regulation.

Read More

Growers Spend $500,000 Per Year on Automation

The second annual Western Growers Specialty Crop Automation Report revealed a 25 percent increase in average year-over-year agtech investment as labor shortage persists.

Growers are now spending an average of $500,000 a year on automation in response to the persistent ag labor shortage, according to the Specialty Crop Automation Report released on April 27, commissioned by Western Growers.

This is the second year the Specialty Crop Automation Report has been released, which tracks and measures industry progress in harvest automation across the fresh produce industry. This study plays into Western Growers Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which aims to accelerate ag automation by 50 percent in 10 years.

Read More

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


EU E-Label Platforms and Nutrition Labeling Webinar

In preparation for the mandatory EU requirement that ingredient and nutritional information needs to be provided for wine exported to the EU “produced and labelled” after Dec. 8, 2023, Wine Institute is planning two webinars to help members prepare.

On Wednesday, June 14 at 10 a.m., members from Wine Institute’s Technical Advisory Committee as well as the Legal and International Public Policy departments will walk through the latest on EU ingredient and nutritional labeling regulations for wine and options for digital platforms available to assist with off-label QR codes. An EU nutrition calculator also will be introduced.


  • June 14, 10 AM, Virtual


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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