January 4, 2024




This Week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • The Winegrape Update
  • CAWG Membership Renewals
  • CAWG PAC Event During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
  • Election Season and CAWG PAC 
  • State Budget in Trouble
  • Fruit Fly Update
  • California Paid Sick Leave
  • Governor Newsom Appoints CAWG Member to California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors
  • California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards

Industry News:

  • Remembering Deborah Golino
  • Massive PG&E Rate Increases
  • Minimum Wage Increase + Ag Overtime Threshold Drops for Small Growers
  • 2024 SVB State of the US Wine Industry Report
  • CDFA and State Board Announce Sessions on Defining Regenerative Agriculture
  • New App Helps Growers Avoid Leaving Climate-Smart Funding On The Table
  • Research Funding: An Update on the Amount of Money Available for Viticulture, Winemaking, and Smoke Taint Research
  • Role of H-2A Ag Workers Widens as U.S. Labor Sources Vanish

Upcoming Events:

  • 2024 Legislative Update for Agricultural Employers Webinar
  • 2024 Awards of Excellence Reception
  • John Duarte for Congress Reception During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
  • WGA Annual Luncheon

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


The Winegrape Update

CAWG is excited to launch The Winegrape Update: A Monthly Growers Forum, starting next Wednesday, January 10, 2024. Designed exclusively for CAWG members, this virtual forum offers a unique space for members to interact with CAWG staff, industry experts, and fellow members.

The Winegrape Update guarantees insightful conversations on relevant subjects. The January agenda covers topics such as the Corporate Transparency Act, Federal Appropriations, the Farm Bill, Crop Insurance Reminders, and a comprehensive 2024 California Legislative Update. Beyond keeping members well-informed, this forum serves as a platform to discuss challenges and opportunities.

The Winegrape Update will be held on the second Wednesday of each month.

Register Here

CAWG Membership Renewals - 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.

Fruit Fly Update

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is dealing with a series of invasive fruit fly infestations in northern and southern California, including the first-ever quarantines in the Western Hemisphere for two flies — the Queensland Fruit Fly and the Tau Fruit Fly.

CDFA has prepared a briefing sheet of Frequently Asked Questions which will be updated over time. Visit CAFruitFly.com for more information about these pests.  

CAWG PAC Event During Unified Wine & Grape Symposium

Join CAWG for a rockin' good time while supporting the CAWG PAC during the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium at Ace of Spades on January 24 at 9 PM.

Last year's event was a sold-out success so we are bringing it back this year and expanding to a bigger venue. Live music will be on tap by Remedy 7, featuring our very own Michael Miiller (CAWG's Director of Government Relations) on drums.

Get Your Tickets Early! Sponsorship Opportunities are available, contact Jenny Devine for more information.

Thank you, Sponsors!

Election Season and CAWG PAC 

In the 2024 elections, there are several races for seats in the state legislature in which winegrape growers need to engage. Below are just a few vacancies (there is no incumbent in these races) to consider:

  • Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) is not running for reelection in 2024. 
  • Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) is termed out. 
  • Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) is a farmer and is termed out. His spouse Assemblywoman Megan Dahle is running to replace him, creating a vacancy in her Assembly seat.
  • Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) is not running for reelection to the Assembly and is instead running for State Senate. His spouse Edith is running for his Assembly seat.
  • Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) is running for Congress to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who is stepping down.
  • Assemblymember Devin Mathis (R-Porterville) is not running for re-election.
  • Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is termed out. 
  • Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) is termed out.

In all these races (and others), it is important to growers that CAWG identifies candidates who will be informed about the industry and will consider CAWG's concerns when deciding on pending legislation. This is why the CAWG PAC is so important.  

Please consider supporting CAWG PAC and joining us in Sacramento while you are at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium for an evening of music at Ace of Spades in Sacramento. Get your tickets early. Click here for details. 

State Budget in Trouble

In 2020, CAWG hosted its Advocacy Day event online due to the pandemic. One of the guest speakers was Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). At the time, Laird predicted that California would be facing a significant budget deficit in the next three to five years. As it turns out, his prediction was spot on.

The reason this kind of thing is so predictable is due to California’s funding stream which can swing from boom to bust in a very short period. Politico reports, “One-fifth of California’s GDP comes from tech, and half the state’s income tax revenue is derived from the top 1 percent of earners. As a result, tougher conditions in Silicon Valley have implications for California’s ability to fund its schools, build badly needed affordable housing, and pull off its ambitious renewable energy transition.”

Next week, Governor Newsom will be releasing his proposed 2024-25 State Budget. Politico reports, “The state swung from a nearly $100 billion budget surplus in 2022 to a record $68 billion shortfall projected for next year — a gap larger than most states spend in 12 months.”

Fortunately, California has a rainy-day fund which has created a reserve that is currently at around $30 billion. But even if Newsom and the Legislature decided to spend the entire reserve on the upcoming budget year (which is not likely), there would still be a $38 billion deficit. It is more likely that dipping into the reserve will be cautious and no more than $10 or $12 billion, which means there will need to be cuts or delayed spending of more than $55 billion. This could mean cuts in state programs that directly affect growers.

SAVE THE DATE: Advocacy Day 2024 is on Wednesday, March 12, 2024. Register now to join us.  

California Paid Sick Leave

Starting on January 1, 2024, California has increased the amount of sick leave employers must provide to their employees as part of AB 616. The new legislation expands California ag employers' Paid Sick Leave obligations from 3 days or 24 hours of leave to 5 days or 40 hours of leave.

The California Labor Commissioner has released updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing the changes on their website.

For more information on this legislation and other new laws in 2024, watch CAWG's webinar hosted with Fisher Phillips, New CA Laws for 2024: What Employers Need to Know.

Governor Newsom Appoints CAWG Member to California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors

Rina DiMare, of Clarksburg, has been appointed to the California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors, where she previously served from 2020 to 2022. DiMare has been a Proprietor at Elevation Ten Winery since 2015. She was a Managing Partner/Owner at Government Strategies Inc. from 2001 to 2015. DiMare was a Consultant and Legislative Assistant in the California State Assembly from 1991 to 1997. She is President of the Clarksburg Winery Collective and a member of the California Winegrape Growers Association. DiMare earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Latin American Studies from California State University, Chico. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

California Green Medal Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards

Applications are being accepted for the 10th Annual California Green Medal Sustainable Wine Growing Leadership Awards. Many CAWG members have previously received these awards.

Vineyards and wineries that participate in a sustainability program in California are eligible to apply in four award categories, recognizing outstanding achievement in sustainability:

  • Leader Award, given to the vineyard or winery that demonstrates success and innovation in all of the below three areas of sustainable winegrowing and inspires others. 

  • Environment Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.

  • Community Award, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor and Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.

  • Business Award, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.

Applications will be accepted through January 12, 2024. Learn more here.

Industry News

Remembering Deborah Golino

Deborah Golino, former Director and Cooperative Extension Specialist for Foundation Plant Services (FPS), passed away on December 23, 2023. A dedicated member of the PD/GWSS Advisory Task Force, National Grape Research Alliance, and a Science Advisory Council appointee in 2020, she played a vital role as an ally, advisor, and friend to the grape and wine industry.

Golino led the UC Davis FPS from 1994 until her retirement in 2021 and oversaw significant growth, expanding the agency from eight staff members to 45 employees by the time of her retirement. Under her management, FPS became a key player in national and international advancements in pathogen detection, virus elimination techniques, and distribution of new crop varieties.

Her successor, Maher Al Rwahnih, praised her as one of the top grape research and extension administrators in the country. Golino's career not only shaped FPS, but also contributed to the National Clean Plant Network, focusing on clean plant production and propagation for various crops.

Golino's legacy lives on through these programs, her teachings, research, and the sense of community she fostered among those advocating for science in agriculture and viticulture.

Massive PG&E Rate Increases

An Update from the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association

In a last-minute, Friday December 29 filing, PG&E announced their $3.431 billion increase in rates effective January 1, 2024.


The increase represents a 17.1 percent increase, 5.1 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), in PG&E’s system average bundled rate. Direct Access and Community Choice Aggregation customers will see an even larger 23.1 percent increase.


The increase comes at a time when Californians are already paying more than double the national average for electricity. 

Minimum Wage Increase + Ag Overtime Threshold Drops for Small Growers

Minimum Wage: Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum wage for hourly employees in California is now $16.00. Although the change applies to the entire state, some cities and counties throughout California are already paying a higher local minimum wage. The minimum wage for fast-food workers in quick-service restaurants with over 60 locations nationwide is set to increase to $20 per hour starting in April 2024.

Minimum wage FAQ

Overtime: California’s overtime rate for employers who employ 25 or fewer employees will change starting January 1, 2024. Employers with 25 or fewer employees will be required to pay overtime for all hours after an agricultural employee works over 8.5 hours in a workday or over 45 hours in a workweek.

The chart below provides more details about the phase-in.

Ag Overtime FAQ

2024 SVB State of the US Wine Industry Report

On Thursday, January 18, SVB will host its live, virtual event to review findings and predictions from its 2024 State of the US Wine Industry Report. The panel of industry leaders will discuss their perspectives regarding the present business environment, provide their opinions on the development of the wine market, and impart insights on the essential elements for sustained success in the future years. 

The panel will include:

  • Rob McMillan, EVP & Founder, Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division 
  • Jen Locke, CEO, Crimson Wine Group
  • Paul Mabray, Industry Innovator
  • Ed Thralls, SVP Professional Services at Enolytics 

Register here.

CDFA and State Board Announce Sessions on Defining Regenerative Agriculture

CDFA, in collaboration with the State Board of Food and Agriculture, will be hosting public listening sessions that will help define “regenerative agriculture” for state policies and programs. The upcoming public listening sessions are listed below.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

4:30 p.m.

Registration Link

Thursday, February 22, 2024

4:30 p.m.

Registration Link

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

5:30 p.m.

Registration Link

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

4:30 p.m.

Registration Link

Updates on the public listening sessions and the process for defining “regenerative agriculture” are available on CDFA's website.

New App Helps Growers Avoid Leaving Climate-Smart Funding On The Table

In a historic investment in agriculture, USDA's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities dedicated $3 billion to fund 141 projects in 2023. Yet, comprehending the diverse projects, each managed by a distinct organization with unique offerings and structures, would be quite the task. A new pilot app, the Climate-Smart Opportunity Navigator, has been developed to streamline the process, enabling swift connections between farms and ranches and appropriate Climate-Smart Commodity grant projects.

Developed by Farm Journal’s Trust In Food and AgWeb, the app utilizes USDA data on 141 projects. By inputting essential operational details such as location, produced commodities, and production practices, producers can efficiently identify and match with one or more Climate-Smart Commodities projects tailored to their specifications. The app presents a brief overview of each matched program, including contact information, facilitating easy comparison and encouraging swift participation.

Read More

Research Funding: An Update on the Amount of Money Available for Viticulture, Winemaking, and Smoke Taint Research

Smoke taint research, and the funding to conduct more research, have increased in recent years, driven mainly by the industry's acknowledgment of the importance of this research following the $3.7 billion losses incurred by the 2020 wildfires. WineBusiness published the first part of an article summarizing the amount of money allocated for smoke taint research.

In 2019, approximately $20 million was allocated for winegrape-related research by federal, state, and other agencies, with an additional $40 million for all grape-related research. These funds include support from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, state land-grant universities, and other institutions.

Efforts to address smoke taint also include a $7.6 million grant to the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force and proposed federal bills, such as the Smoke Exposure Research Act of 2023, seeking $32.5 million over five years for USDA and universities for smoke exposure research. The Smoke Exposure Crop Insurance Act, or HR 4308, aims to develop a better insurance policy for winegrape growers and wineries against smoke exposure.

Most funding for wine industry research comes from the U.S. Farm Bill, which is currently up for re-authorization in 2024. Stakeholders are advocating for increased funding in various areas, such as mechanization and automation research, improved crop insurance, disaster assistance, wildfire exposure research, and pest and disease research.

Role of H-2A Ag Workers Widens as U.S. Labor Sources Vanish

Many specialty crop operations that rely heavily on manual labor utilize foreign guest labor. A recent article published by FarmProgress outlines the decline in immigrant farmworkers and how H-2A workers could make sense for many farming operations. The article reports that H-2A jobs have increased from 48,000 in 2005 to over 370,000 in 2022.

Utilizing the H-2A program may help solve labor problems, but it’s not as simple as finding someone and then hiring them. It is very important to follow the rules set by the Department of Labor.

Read More

Upcoming Events and Trainings

2024 Legislative Update for Agricultural Employers Webinar

The California Legislature has enacted new legislation for 2024 that impacts employers of all sizes. This webinar hosted by Fisher Phillips Partners, Alden Parker and Rebecca Hause-Schultz, will analyze significant new legislation affecting California Agricultural employers in the new year.

When and Where:

  • January 9, 12 PM, Virtual

Register Here

2024 Awards of Excellence Reception

Join CAWG to honor Sangiacomo Family Vineyards as its 2024 Grower of the Year and California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, as its 2024 Leader of the Year.

All CAWG members are welcome to join in celebrating the remarkable achievements and invaluable contributions of both the Sangiacomo Family and Secretary Ross to California's winegrape industry.

The awards reception will follow the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium welcome reception at the Sheraton Grand, Sacramento. Registration for the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium is not required and there is no fee for attending the reception.

When and Where:

  • January 23, 6 PM, Sheraton Grand, Sacramento

Sponsorship Opportunities are available, contact Jenny Devine for more information.

Thank you, Sponsors!

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

WGA Annual Leadership 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, and the honoring of an individual with the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award.

When and Where:

  • January 24, 11:30 AM, Hyatt Regency Sacramento

Register Here!



10 - The Winegrape Update

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


12 - CAWG Advocacy Day and CAWG Foundation Reception



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