March 21, 2024




This Week's eNews Includes:

CAWG News:

  • They’re With The Union & They’re Here To Help
  • Chaos on Indoor Heat Regulation
  • California Ag Day
  • March Issue of American Vineyard Magazine - CAWG @ Work Column
  • Clarksburg Grape Day
  • CAWG Advocacy Day

Industry News:

  • Imported Foreign Bulk Wine: The Dirty Secret No One in California Wine is Talking About
  • Insurance Market Crushes Wineries and Wine Country Homeowners
  • Growers Are Pulling Out Grapevines - But Not Fast Enough
  • Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation - New Educational Materials and Resources
  • Enhancing Regional Grape and Wine Production and Quality Survey

Upcoming Events:

  • Webinar: Simplify Sampling Plan Creation and Collection with Aerial Data
  • UC Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology On the Road Programs
  • 2-Day Regenerative Winegrowing Workshop
  • UCCE San Joaquin County Vineyard IPM Day
  • U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit


They’re With The Union & They’re Here To Help


Media accounts are reporting that labor unions around the state are actively gathering signatures to organize agricultural employees. Allegations have surfaced suggesting that these signatures are being obtained through the unions' official roles in contracting with public agencies to provide public benefits to agricultural employees, without adequately informing them of the purpose or implications of signing.


This week, CAWG staff testified before the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), emphasizing the urgency of the situation. CAWG stated that by collecting signatures from agricultural employees without informed consent could constitute coercion and manipulation, violating Chapter 4 of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which prohibits unfair labor practices. CAWG urged the Board to promptly investigate complaints and, if evidence of unfair labor practices is found, to take immediate enforcement action. Furthermore, CAWG recommended that the Board extend its examination to all Card Check activities of organizations statewide engaged in similar practices to safeguard the rights of agricultural employees.


The ALRB has yet to respond to CAWG’s request. Below are two links to media reports on this issue:

Additionally, the National Council of Agricultural Employers’ (NCAE) issued a statement this week and wrote a letter to USDA Secretary of Agriculture concerning the alleged coercive practices and misuse of grant funds by unions in California. They highlighted similar tactics reportedly used in New York to unionize agricultural workforces.

Chaos on Indoor Heat Regulation


As expected, the Occupational Health and Standards Board adopted the Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Standard today. However, due to questionable procedural actions taken today by the Board, it is possible this standard will not become law. 


In a move that took all stakeholders by surprise, at the beginning of the meeting the Board chair announced that a vote on the Indoor Heat Illness Prevention Standard was pulled from today’s agenda. As the deadline for adoption of this regulation is March 31 and there are no meetings scheduled before then, this would normally mean that this regulation would be dead. If so, Cal/OSHA would then need to start over with a whole new regulation.


This regulation was pulled from the agenda because the California Department of Finance did an analysis of the regulation and found that it would be more costly than previously estimated for the State of California (as an employer) to comply with the regulation. In short: given the state’s $72 billion deficit, the state cannot afford this regulation. 


Then, amidst the backdrop of labor union protestors shouting, beating drums, and shutting down the Board’s meeting, the chair announced that the meeting was adjourned as he left the room. Surprisingly, after things quieted down, the chair returned and reconvened the meeting. At which point, the chair ended public comment and put the regulation back on the agenda. The regulation was then quickly approved. 


This approval is likely in violation of both the Administrative Procedure Act and the Bagley- Keene Open Meeting Act. Consequently, it is doubtful that this regulation will be approved by the Office of Administrative Law–meaning, it will not become law.


It is unclear what the next steps will be, but if the regulation does not become law, we will likely see legislation to put a workplace standard into the Labor Code instead of through the regulatory process. Or we may see an emergency regulation being proposed to the Board in the next several weeks. 


However, given the hijinks at today’s meeting, predicting the next steps on this regulation would be akin to betting at the roulette wheel.  

California Ag Day

CAWG celebrated National Ag Day on March 19 at California Ag Day hosted at the State Capitol. CAWG, along with Wine Institute, co-hosted the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) booth.

The team had a great day visiting with legislators 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: Next Gen Tools, Talent & Tech.

Watch CDFA's video below.

March Issue of American Vineyard Magazine - CAWG @ Work Column

The March issue of the American Vineyard Magazine is now available featuring CAWG's monthly column, CAWG @ Work.

Each month CAWG will contribute to the magazine, discussing relevant industry trends. March's article focused on ag overtime legislation and the current political climate surrounding the issue in California.

Read the March column online, hint - it's on page 19.

Clarksburg Grape Day

Clarksburg Grape Day, hosted by the Clarksburg Winegrape Growers Association, was held on March 19.

The event focused on the importance of sustainable farming practices and the role of vineyards in the Delta community’s economic well-being. Attendees listened to a series of informative sessions and panel discussions featuring industry experts and local winemakers. Topics ranged from vineyard management and sustainable practices to the latest trends in winemaking and marketing.

Michael Miiller, CAWG's Director of Government Affairs provided a state legislative update.

Quote of the Week:

“Yes, We Are All Doomed to Die. But Wine Won't Do Us In,” said Katherine Cole in an article about how the wine world has been in an existential crisis since last January when the World Health Organization declared that ‘no level of alcohol is safe for our health.

CAWG Advocacy Day

“We’re pushing forward for legislation to streamline that process so people can build more housing on ag land,” Michael Miiller, CAWG director of government relations, told about 60 association members gathered on March 12 in Sacramento for a day of advocacy and legislative updates. provided an indepth recap of CAWG's Advocacy Day last week with a summary on sponsored and priority legislation.

Read the full article here.

Industry News

Imported Foreign Bulk Wine: The Dirty Secret No One in California Wine is Talking About

"Clearly, bulk and bottled imports have had a profound impact on the demand for California winegrapes. What is frustrating to growers is that many of the largest buyers of California winegrapes are also the largest importers of foreign bulk wine. This situation is exacerbated by a global oversupply of wine which allows wineries to source incredibly cheap foreign bulk wine to reduce their cost of goods sold.

Where is all this imported bulk wine ending up? Much of it is in plain sight on the grocery store shelves, labeled as “American” wine. Federal TTB (Tax & Trade Bureau) regulations allow for up to 25% foreign (non-US) wine to be blended with California wine and legally labeled “American.”

Read more in a blog written by Stuart Spencer with the Lodi Winegrape Commission.

Insurance Market Crushes Wineries and Wine Country Homeowners

Vineyard owners and wineries throughout California are struggling to secure property insurance, especially in wildfire-prone areas. Governor Newsom's Executive Order and the Department of Insurance's proposed regulatory changes aim to address this crisis. Insurers will be allowed to adjust rates using future-looking catastrophe modeling, but in return, they must provide coverage in at-risk areas at 85% of their statewide levels.

The DOI also rewards wildfire safety measures and is increasing the FAIR Plan's coverage limit for commercial properties. Commissioner Lara has issued a moratorium on residential non-renewals in areas affected by wildfires. These efforts aim to provide relief to the wine industry and offer more options for property owners in the future.

Read More

Growers Are Pulling Out Grapevines - But Not Fast Enough

Vineyard removals have been making headlines since Jeff Bitter, president of Allied Grape Growers and CAWG Director, emphasized the need to remove 50,000 acres of vines this year to balance the state's grape supply in January at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. While some removals are happening, it may not be enough to prevent an oversupply in 2024.

Despite the urgency, many growers are hesitant to remove vines due to a lack of alternative crops. The removal process is also becoming more challenging as burning vineyards, a traditional method, will be prohibited in the San Joaquin Valley starting next year due to air pollution concerns.

"The data is screaming at us so loudly about the reality of our structural oversupply that we can't ignore it," Bitter said. "I live and die by grapegrowers. This is brutal. Having to talk about reducing our production, it's not a message that I want to deliver. But it is what it is. You can't ignore it like it doesn't exist."

Read More

Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation - New Educational Materials and Resources

Last year, Governor Newsom signed SB 553 (Cortese) and California Labor Code section 6401.9 related to Workplace Violence Prevention in General Industry, which will be in effect and enforceable on July 1, 2024.

Cal/OSHA has developed educational materials and resources, including a model-written workplace violence prevention plan.

New educational materials and resources include:

Enhancing Regional Grape and Wine Production and Quality Survey

The UC Davis Extension Team collaborated with viticulture, enology, and marketing experts from across the country to develop a survey aiming to identify the research and extension needs of the grape and wine industry in the United States. This is part of the USDA SCRI Research and Extension planning project grant titled "Enhancing regional grape and wine production and quality."

The primary objective is to gather input from industry stakeholders to understand the key concerns and issues affecting the industry. Feedback is being sought in three areas: (1) viticulture, (2) enology, and (3) winery business management.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, all data will be aggregated, and all responses will be kept confidential.

Take the survey here.

Upcoming Events and Trainings

Webinar: Simplify Sampling Plan Creation and Collection with Aerial Data


Join CAWG and VineView for an educational webinar to learn how to simplify the creation and collection of your sampling strategy with VineView’s new smart sampling tools.


This webinar will cover:

  • A demo of VineView’s new sampling plan creator — create sampling plans that pinpoint sampling locations that give an accurate representation of field conditions
  • A demo of VineView’s new mobile collector app — collect and track your samples with ease
  • Different approaches to sampling and best methods 

When and Where:

  • March 27 at 10 AM, Zoom

Register Today!

UC Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology On the Road Programs

On The Road programs, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology are educational seminars that help the department communicate with the California grape and wine industries by bringing faculty to different regions of California.

They present relevant topics or current research and listen to the issues that are important to grape-growing and winemaking professionals.

Upcoming Events:

Please visit the Viticulture and Enology website for more information. 

2-Day Regenerative Winegrowing Workshop

Regenerative winegrowing is a dynamic approach that at its core is about profitably farming in alliance with the ecosystem.

This two-day workshop hosted by the Paicines Ranch Learning Center will lead participants to a deeper understanding of regenerative agriculture.

When and Where:

  • March 28-29, Paicines Ranch, Paicines, CA

Register Here

UCCE San Joaquin County Vineyard IPM Day

UC ANR is hosting a vineyard IPM Day on April 1 in Stockton from 7:30 AM - 12 PM. Topics include Powdery Mildew and Bunch Rot Management Overview, Using Weather Stations to Understand and Respond to Disease Pressure, Spotted Lanternfly Updates,

Vineyard Trunk Disease Management, Vineyard Soil Pest and Disease Management, and Remote Sensing on Grapevine Leaf Roll Virus Detection. On-line registration is available.


Continuing Education hours have been approved (3.5 PCA and 3.5 CCA).

When and Where:

  • April 1, UCCE San Joaquin County office, Stockton, CA

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 Today!



27 - Simplify Sampling Plan Creation and Collection with Aerial Data Webinar


20 - CAWG Foundation 5th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament



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