May 2024

California Vine Lines is a bimonthly publication of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) to offer policymakers a snapshot of what is occurring in the grape-growing and wine industry. Please click on any of the links for more information about the issues highlighted below.  

Global Wine Glut Leaves Bitter Taste

The Los Angeles Times reports that times are getting increasingly tough for many of California’s wine grape growers. Wine-souring smoke from wildfires, grape-shriveling drought, and global warming have all been playing an increasingly detrimental role in state vineyards for at least the last decade.

But those aren’t the only headaches. The global wine glut means struggling California growers have found themselves having to compete with bargain-basement wine prices from overseas growers eager to rid themselves of aging supplies.

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Podcast: CA’s Ban on Autonomous Ag Equipment

California is known for having the most innovative tech minds on the planet. We are also known for making some of the world’s finest wines. Yet, in the Golden State, an antiquated law makes it challenging to use autonomous equipment in CA vineyards.

Nonetheless, this equipment is being used in vineyards around the world. It is also being used in orchards and fields and in growing other commodities.

The attraction to this equipment is for many reasons: The equipment is safer for the environment, promotes sustainability, provides increased employee safety, supports precision viticulture, creates greater career opportunities for ag employees, and helps growers be good stewards of the land. 

Demand Exceeds Ag Worker Housing Supply

Half Moon Bay city planners recently said that while they support the idea of more farmworker housing, they needed more time to consider whether the project fit within the city’s coastal land use plan.

“The primary objective … is to protect coastal resources — full stop. A second-tier consideration is to provide affordable housing,” said Planning Commissioner Rick Hernandez.

NOTE: This photo is of Tanimura & Antle's housing development in Monterey County which provides housing for up to 800 of its domestic and H2A guest workers and faced NIMBYism and some of the worst stereotypes about farmworkers.

CAWG’s Farmworker Scholarship Winners

The California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation - a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation - was established to conduct public education programs, fund scholarships, and support research related to the California wine and winegrape industry.

Each year the foundation awards 4-year scholarships ($8,000 each) to students planning to attend a campus in the University of California or California State University system, and 2-year scholarships ($2,000 each) to students planning to attend a California community college.

This year, the Foundation has awarded $36,000 to eight deserving students.

Spotted Lanternfly Now in 18 States

An invasive insect first identified on the East Coast that could greatly harm California’s winegrapes and orchards continues to spread westward. The spotted lanternfly is now present in 18 states, said Cindy Kron, North Coast IPM advisor at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

California, Washington, and Oregon are considered “very suitable” regions for the spotted lanternfly to thrive, Kron said. An infestation in California could result in thousands of acres of vine deaths and substantial trade disruptions. 

CDFA recently reported that the Truckee Border Protection Station on I-80 recently intercepted a Spotted Lanternfly egg mass off a large (30 ft tall) metal art installation coming from New York and headed to Petaluma. The station staff inspected and found 11 viable egg masses on the artwork, resulting in the shipment being rejected at the station and refused entry into California. 

An additional 33 egg masses were found through inspections by the State of Nevada and then by Sonoma County. 

Crisis Rattles Real Estate Market

California’s Wine Country has experienced some of the worst wildfires in West Coast history. This has created a crisis where businesses and homeowners find it impossible to buy property insurance.

When Cindi Koehn listed her Lake County home for sale last year, she didn’t expect any trouble selling the beautiful 1.7-acre property overlooking the lake. But three interested buyers walked away. The cost to insure it, they told her, would be too expensive.

About the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG)

Founded in 1974, CAWG stands as the statewide advocate for winegrape growers, representing the interests of California's winegrape industry. Our mission is to foster collaboration and advocate for policies that ensure the continued success of this economically vital industry.

California Association of Winegrape Growers

1121 L Street, Suite 304Sacramento, CA

Michael Miiller, Director of Government Relations 379-8995 or (916) 204-0485