March 23, 2023




This week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • Lead Story: State of the State
  • eAlert: March Madness - A Missed Call with Autonomous Equipment
  • California Ag Day
  • Winners Announced for 9th Annual California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards
  • CAWG Foundation Golf Tournament

Industry News:

  • Farm Organizations Support Act Aims to Suspend H-2A Wage Increases
  • California Farmland to Serve State in Recharging Groundwater Supply
  • New Program for Flood Diversion
  • California Storm Response and Recovery Update
  • $200 Million Invested to Reduce Wildfire Risk Across 22 States
  • First Signs of Budbreak in Sonoma and Napa Counties
  • Is the Western Drought Finally Ending?
  • Full California Jobs Report for January 2023
  • USDA’s Modernized Lab Data Mart Website

Upcoming Events

  • Certified California Sustainable Growing Webinar
  • What is the Future of Agriculture in California Summit
  • Communicating Sustainably Webinar
  • Napa Valley Grapegrowers Sustainable VIneyard Practices Seminar


State of the State

Much like the president’s annual State of the Union address to congress, Article V, Section 3 of the California Constitution provides, “The Governor shall report to the Legislature each calendar year on the condition of the State and may make recommendations.” 

Typically, the annual State of the State report is in the form of a speech by the governor in the Assembly Chamber with members of the Supreme Court, statewide officeholders, and legislators from the Senate and Assembly in attendance. Media outlets typically cover the event in detail. Governors often invite special guests that are recognized during the speech.

Governor Newsom decided he would try something new this year, as he declined to provide his State of the State report to the legislature in person. Instead, he toured the state in the last several days making various announcements about insulin, prisons, mental health, housing, fentanyl, and opioids. He visited Sacramento, San Quentin, Lithium Valley, San Diego, and Downey. Newsom provided the highlights of his State of the State tour in a news release. He also released a brief video about the tour.

This week, Newsom also sent a letter to legislative leaders which essentially serves as his 2023 State of the State address. While the letter probably technically meets Newsom’s Constitutional obligation for an annual report, the letter lacks specific recommendations relative to several of the immediate challenges facing California – Winter storms, the strike at Los Angeles Unified schools, state budget deficit, the economy, inflation, bank failures, etc. 

On the plus side, Newsom’s letter included a recognition of the need for groundwater recharge. His letter stated, “In the Central Valley, we are building new capacity to store groundwater, not only helping us prepare for future droughts . . .” Consistent with that effort, CAWG is sponsoring SB 659 (Ashby, D-Sacramento) which calls for 10 million new acre-feet of groundwater annually.

eAlert: March Madness - A Missed Call with Autonomous Equipment

The 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tourney has been a source of frustration for millions of fans who studied the teams closely and filled out their brackets, to only then tear up their brackets after the first round. An unpredictable outcome was also seen at the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board last week when the chair of the Board reversed himself in the middle of the hearing thereby defeating our effort to begin the regulatory process to update a 1970s regulation to allow for use of autonomous farm equipment.

More detailed information can be found in CAWG's eAlert.

California Ag Day

On National Ag Day (March 21), the CAWG team, along with Wine Institute, co-sponsored the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance booth at California Ag Day at the State Capitol.

The team visited with legislators, legislative staff, Newsom Administration leaders, and the public about the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices. The event, sponsored by CDFA, California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, and the California Women for Agriculture, brought together farmers, ranchers, agricultural enthusiasts, and leaders around this year’s theme: “Cultivating Community & Opportunity.”

More information on the event can be found on CDFA's Planting Seeds Blog and ABC10.

Winners Announced for 9th Annual California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards

Four of the state’s premier wineries were awarded California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards, joining 32 past winners from throughout the Golden State. These awardees are recognized for their advanced sustainability practices and innovation based on a comprehensive judging process focused on both sustainable viticulture and winemaking. Presented by several California wine organizations devoted to sustainability, four green medals are awarded annually in the following categories: Leader, Environment, Community, and Business.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize the California wine community’s cutting-edge leaders in sustainability through the California Green Medal Awards,” said Allison Jordan, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s (CSWA) Executive Director. “Their stories illustrate the perfect synergy between growing exceptional winegrapes and crafting quality wines at different price points with an enduring commitment to resource conservation, environmental protection, and quality of life for their employees and community.”

Winners of the 2023 California Green Medals are:

  • Leader Award: Treasury Americas
  • Environment Award: Tablas Creek Vineyard
  • Community Award: Cakebread Cellars
  • Business Award: Niner Wine Estates

Press Release

CAWG Foundation Golf Tournament

May 16 - Chardonnay Golf Club, Napa Valley

Join the CAWG Foundation for our 4th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament. The scholarship program is specifically for high school seniors whose parent/guardian(s) are employed by a CA winegrape grower. 

Register today!

Industry News

Farm Organizations Support Act Aims to Suspend H-2A Wage Increases

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington D.C. is working to keep the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) from increasing further in 2023.

Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Geogria) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) have introduced the Farm Operations Support Act to address increasing wages for the H-2A program. The new legislation would set the AEWR to the December 2022 level for the remainder of the year, as the AEWR has progressively increased for the last 9 years. Multiple agricultural groups have criticized the latest wage rule.

“The wage rate farmers are required to pay by the Department of Labor has long outpaced the rate of inflation and become unsustainable,” said Senator Tillis. “This year’s increase has only exacerbated the current national labor crisis. While our farmers need broader programmatic reforms, this necessary legislation will give temporary relief to their rapidly rising input costs while maintaining worker pay and protections and allow U.S. farmers to continue doing what they do best.”

Read More

California Farmland to Serve State in Recharging Groundwater Supply

Governor Newsom recently released Executive Order N-4-23, related to flood water capture and groundwater recharge. The order set forth the conditions under which water users may capture and divert floodwater for groundwater recharge – temporarily lifting regulations and setting clear conditions for diverting flood-stage water without state permits to boost groundwater recharge storage. The Executive Order suspends certain regulatory requirements under conditions of imminent risk of flooding during this Spring’s runoff months until June 1, 2023.

For more information on the Executive Order:

New Program for Flood Diversion

Today the State Water Resources Control Board created a new website to help people take advantage of the ability to divert water for groundwater recharge under Governor Newsom's Executive Order N-4-23 for flood diversion. This executive order creates a unique opportunity for growers to implement expedited action for flood protection while also storing groundwater for later in the year. 

You can visit the CA Water Board website for details including a reporting form and FAQs.

California Storm Response and Recovery Update

News release from the Governor's Office

As California weathers the twelfth atmospheric river since late December, the state’s all-of-government emergency response (including CDFA) continues to deploy personnel and resources to protect communities and support recovery efforts across the state.

“We’re continuing to mobilize an all-hands-on-deck response to protect Californians during this latest round of devastating storms,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “With communities from San Diego to Siskiyou County reeling from recent storms, the state is working closely with federal and local partners to provide immediate relief and support the ongoing recovery.”

Since the start of severe winter storms in late February, Governor Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency in 43 counties. At Governor Newsom’s request, President Biden issued a Presidential Emergency Declaration authorizing federal assistance to support storm response and recovery efforts. 

The Administration is working to maximize federal aid to storm-impacted communities as state and county officials conduct preliminary damage assessments and tally totals for financial losses to determine if California meets the criteria for a Major Disaster Declaration from the federal government. Earlier this year, California secured a Major Disaster Declaration in response to severe storms that began in late December.  

California’s emergency response to the widespread storm impacts has involved nearly every part of the state government. The full news release outlines the All-In State Response.

$200 Million Invested to Reduce Wildfire Risk Across 22 States

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is investing nearly $200 million in 100 project proposals benefiting 22 states and seven tribes, as part of the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program.

Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program helps communities, tribes, non-profit organizations, state forestry agencies, and Alaska Native corporations plan for and mitigate wildfire risks as the nation faces an ongoing wildfire crisis.

The 100 grant proposals from 22 states and seven tribes that were impacted or threatened by wildfires were selected in the initial round of funding under the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program, which makes $1 billion available over five years to assist at-risk communities. The agency used the three priorities outlined in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to narrow down the communities in greatest need. These priorities included communities impacted by severe disasters, those with high or very high wildfire hazard potential, or classified as low income.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this initial round of investments from the Community Wildfire Defense Grant program is yet another way that the Biden-Harris Administration is taking crucial steps to make communities safer and protect critical infrastructure and natural resources from the threat of destructive wildfires,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These grants will help to ensure that local communities, especially low-income and tribal communities, have the tools they need to keep communities safe, and that we are working together in the right places and at the right scale to confront this crisis.”

Press Release

First Signs of Budbreak in Sonoma and Napa Counties

Budbreak has quietly started in parts of Sonoma and Napa Counties. While much of the county’s grapevines remain at “the popcorn stage” — a term coined for the swelling, fuzzy white buds that signal budbreak — there are a few sites where the bright green shoots of this year’s vintage are starting to push through.

This is of big concern with the chance of freezing temperatures this weekend. Read more in the articles linked below:

Is the Western Drought Finally Ending?

After three years of extreme drought, the Western U.S. is finally getting a break. Mountain ranges are covered in deep snow, and water reservoirs in many areas are filling up following a series of twelve atmospheric rivers that brought record rain and snow.

California's three-year precipitation deficit was just about erased by the atmospheric rivers that caused so much flooding in December and January. By early March, the snowpack across the Sierra Nevada was well above the historical averages – and more than 200% of average in some areas. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced it was ending emergency water restrictions for nearly 7 million people on March 15.

It seems as though most of the surface water drought – drought involving streams and reservoirs – could be eliminated by summer in California and the Great Basin, across Nevada and western Utah. But, that is only surface water and the drought also affects groundwater which will take longer to alleviate - hence the need for SB 659 (Ashby, D-Sacramento). Studies in California have shown that, even after wet years like 2017 and 2019, the groundwater systems did not fully recover from the previous drought.

Dan McEvoy, Associate Research Professor in Climatology at the Desert Research Institute, says that California appears to be coming out of drought, and the drought feels like it’s ending elsewhere. But it’s hard to say when exactly the drought is over. Studies suggest the West’s hydroclimate is becoming more variable in its swings from drought to deluge. Drought is also hard to forecast, particularly long term. Researchers can get a pretty good sense of conditions one month out, but the chaotic nature of the atmosphere and weather make longer-range outlooks less reliable.

Read More

Full California Jobs Report for January 2023

The Center for Jobs and the Economy has released our full analysis of the January Employment Report from the California Employment Development Department. 

The January nonfarm job numbers for California were the strongest since February 2022, showing a gain of 96,700 compared to Texas at 48,600 and Florida at 30,000. Looking at the moving 12-month total, California instead falls to second place at 635,000 for the year compared to Texas at 678,000 but still ahead of smaller Florida at 478,000.

Even with the improved recovery date, the California numbers fall behind many other states in real jobs growth rather than recovering the jobs lost during the state shutdowns. To date, California is only 293,800 jobs above the pre-pandemic peak, compared to Texas at 811,000 and Florida at 582,500.

More market information is available in the Ciatti California Report.

USDA’s Modernized Lab Data Mart Website

USDA recently updated its Lab Data Mart website, also known as the National Cooperative Lab Characterization Database, to provide valuable soil data in an interactive map. It includes data estimating soil properties such as organic carbon, clay content, calcium carbonate equivalent, and pH, which is beneficial in soil health assessments. Anyone looking to learn more about their soil can access the latest data to make more informed decisions and reduce potential soil risks and hazards.  

The Lab Data Mart can help you:

  • Determine carbon credits or improve carbon sequestration: The data can help you determine how much carbon is currently in the top 12 inches of soil and decide whether you want to sequester more carbon and consider methods and management practices to do so. 
  • Lease or buy land: The data may help determine if your planned management practices will work; and if not, what could be the added cost to do things differently. Understanding the mineralogy of your soil can help you determine if it requires soil amendments, a new tool or piece of equipment to accomplish goals, or a change to what you farm or your tillage operation. 
  • Take a more systematic view of your land: Whether working with an NRCS conservation planner or on your own, the data helps you know more about your soil and ties into how you look at the whole ecological site. 

Learn More

Upcoming Events and Trainings

Certified California Sustainable Growing Webinar

Register today for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance’s Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP) and Certification webinar to be held March 29, 2023, from 10 to 11 a.m. Participants will gain information on the SWP, learn how to complete a self-assessment using the online system and the steps required to become certified to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. Other helpful tools and resources will also be covered.


  • March 29, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM


What is the Future of Agriculture in California Summit

The Maddy Institute, in partnership with Climate Now and the Livermore Lab Foundation, will host a free virtual summit at the California State University, Fresno for 250 in-person attendees and many more virtual participants.

The summit will showcase a variety of diverse speakers including the Keynote Speaker, Karen Ross. The speakers will discuss critical concepts, opportunities, and challenges within agriculture and climate.


  • March 30, 8:30 AM, CSU Fresno and Virtual

Agenda and Registration Information

Communicating Sustainably Webinar

Do you struggle to communicate your sustainability efforts? Register today for this virtual webinar during Down to Earth Month. The webinar is hosted by CAWG, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), and Wine Institute.

You will receive ideas and tips to integrate sustainability into your communications with consumers, trade, and media while gaining insights on the market for sustainably. Attendees will be the first to receive a communications training guide to jump-start their sustainability communications strategy!


  • April 20, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM


Napa Valley Grapegrowers Sustainable Vineyard Practices Seminar

The Sustainable Vineyard Practices seminars are held in partnership with the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group and the University of California Cooperative Extension. This series is for vineyard owners, growers, viticulturists, winemakers, and vineyard managers striving to increase quality and sustainability in the vineyard. This second session will focus on vineyard development and irrigation plans in a changing climate.


  • April 26, 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM, Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center and Zoom

Agenda and Registration Information



16 - CAWG Foundation Scholarship Golf Tournament



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