The Voice of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission SPRING 2009

Frost Protection and Water Conservation By Mark Greenspan, Advanced Viticulture with input from Sonoma County winegrape growers Recent winter rains have alleviated concern for early spring water deficits in vineyards. However, shortages in public reservoir storage are likely to remain after this rainy season is over.

Frost protection in Russian River Valley

Flow in the Russian River may be severely limited this summer, making it important for vineyard owners to conserve water this year. Consequently, it is important to minimize the use of overhead sprinklers for frost protection this spring to preserve public and private reserves for late-season irrigation. Remember, the public is watching us to share in water conservation.

In This Issue … President’s Report. . . . . . . . . . 2 2009 Meeting Highlights. . . . . . . 3 Sonoma County Wine Stars . . . . 4 Nomination and Election. . . . . . 4 Up-Close with Bob Cabral . . . . . 5 Pruning Championship. . . . . . . . 6 Sonoma Summit . . . . . . . . . . 7 Marketing Update . . . . . . . . . 8 Grape Marketplace. . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Staff Corner. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 2009 Grower Meetings . . . . . . . 10 Sustainability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Best management practices for frost control: Keep cover crops and other vegetation closely mowed to the ground. Moderate or tall vegetation lowers vineyard temperatures at night and increases frost risk. •

Double-pruning or late pruning will retard budbreak. Conduct the final pruning after the more apical buds have pushed. •

Apply copper to reduce ice-nucleating bacteria.

Use your own thermometer. Frost is very site-specific, so don’t rely on a remote weather station or your neighbor’s thermometer. Measure well away from your neighbor’s vineyard if it has sprinklers in operation. •

Better yet, use a bulb-type, aspirated psychrometer (wet and dry bulbs), like PsychroDyne, available online ($165) at The wet bulb is very useful. Portable electronic types are available, but are less accurate at low dew points than are bulb-types. Sling psychrometers may also be used. •

Use dew point values to determine your threshold for sprinkler start-up. Use a psychrometer and associated look-up tables, if possible. If not, using publicly-available dew point information within your region is better than using nothing. •

Continued on page 10

Steve Sangiacomo shared vineyard practices with a group of Canadian wine writers



Vine Times: The Voice of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission Editor: Larry Levine Commissioners: John Balletto (Chairman) Steve Sangiacomo (Vice Chairman) Richard Mounts (Secretary) Duff Bevill (former Chairman) Joe Dutton Mark Houser Jim Murphy Pete Opatz Mike Rowan Richard Rued Rhonda Smith Alternates: Kevin Barr Chris Bowen Tim Carl Charles Karren Vicki Michalczyk Bill Munselle Mark Pasternak Brad Petersen Steve Thomas Wells Wagner President: Nick Frey 707-522-5861 Vice President Marketing & Communications: Larry Levine 707-522-5863 Grower Outreach: Ginger Baker, 707-522-5864 Sustainable Practices Coordinator: Judy Tuhtan, 707-522-5862 www. 707-522-5860 Layout by Firefly Creative Company


President’s Report By Nick Frey

The 2008 harvest was a disappointment for many growers. Those who suffered frost damage were most affected, but the dry spring and poor fruit set led to a small crop — 168,992 tons, the lowest harvest since 2005, and 30,000 tons lower than in 2007. The sting of a short crop was offset, in part, by a record average price of $2,338 per ton, a seven percent increase over 2007. The $157 per ton increase was the largest increase of any major wine-producing crush district in California. Demand was strong for Sonoma County grapes in 2008. Supplies were tight for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot prices began their rebound after several years of declining prices. Prospects look good for 2009, although the financial meltdown in September and October and the deepening recession are concerns for Sonoma County wineries trying to plan for future wine sales and grape purchases. Growers are also affected by the weakened economy. Input costs have escalated in 2008, and credit markets have changed. The price increases in 2008 were needed for many growers to return to profitability. Sustainable grape production in Sonoma County includes being economically viable, and declining grape prices since 2001 and two light crops in 2007 and 2008 have hurt grower incomes. In addition to market challenges, growers face possible water shortages as we approach budbreak. Limited rainfall through January left reservoirs dry in many instances. Historic January low levels in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma will likely lead to mandatory conservation requirements for our cities. Growers are being asked to conserve water as well, and a group of concerned growers has developed suggestions to help all growers conserve water (see article on the front page). Fortunately, February and March rains have filled the soil profile before budbreak, which will allow most growers to delay irrigation. But growers will be vulnerable if frost returns this spring. The drought has additional implications for landowners. The limited stream flows are impacting threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. The risk of fish kills, i.e., “take” under the Endangered Species Act, due to human activities poses regulatory risks. Those risks have existed for several years, and a group has been working to obtain “take” protection for growers. The Salmon Coalition has been working since 2007 to develop programs to improve habitat for salmon and steelhead in our streams and to develop best management practices (BMP) for grape production that are sufficient to get incidental “take” protection under the Endangered Species Act. This process will take time to become a reality and it will require grower support. Future newsletters will update you on any progress that is made. President’s Repor t continued on page 3




President’s Repor t continued from page 2

Growers who are planting or replanting new vineyards over ½ acre are subject to requirements of the Grading, Drainage, and Vineyard/Orchard Site Development Ordinance. Growers will need to get a permit from the agricultural commissioner. Gail Davis, 707-565-2371, should be contacted for a preliminary site visit before development plans are created. An overview of the ordinance requirements, prepared with input from Gail Davis and Cort Munselle, Munselle Civil Engineering, can be found at There are new setback requirements from non-designated streams and wetlands that will affect development layout and design. The Commission hosted the first California seminar by the Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition on Feb. 24 at SRJC Shone Farm. Speakers from Cal OSHA, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Employment Development Department, and the US Wage and Hour Division provided updates on regulations growers must comply with, including the latest heat stress requirements. Concurrent sessions in English for vineyard owners and managers and in Spanish for supervisors and foremen were offered. Speakers presented useful information and answered questions from the audience. In our aim to provide growers with information needed to comply with current regulations, we plan to host the EEEC team again next year. They provided information every grower and vineyard manager supervisor needs to know! The 2009 growing season is just beginning for most growers. It is an exciting time. Spring rains provide optimism for a return to normal yields. Grape demand is good, but an uncertain economy is a concern. Grape growing is increasingly complex as growers deal with the normal production challenges, increasing cost of inputs, new regulations, and our vineyard neighbors. Your Commission is here to support you in your efforts to sustainably produce quality winegrapes for generations to come. Good luck to each of you in producing a successful 2009 vintage!

2009 Meeting Highlights As reported by Nick Frey

The Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, Jan. 27 – 29, was the major industry event of the year. The major themes were industry trends in grape and wine production and sales, consumer trends that are influencing wine sales and sustainability.

The new vintage is born in Sonoma Valley

Nat DiBuduo, Allied Grape Growers, highlighted the grower issues, i.e. grape supply, economic sustainability, and industry investment in the future. DiBuduo said grape supplies are not likely to meet demand in coming years because nonbearing acreage of most grape varieties is below replacement, i.e., nonbearing acres are less than 5 percent. The question is whether wineries will offer planting contracts or fulfill their needs with imported wine. Near-term prospects for price increases and planting contracts in Napa and Sonoma Counties are best for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and perhaps Merlot! Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel are in balance, although Zinfandel demand is weak. Syrah remains very weak. DiBuduo said there is potential for weakness in Pinot Noir, with new plantings coming into production and higher wine prices. The costs of production in Napa and Sonoma are squeezing grower profitability at today’s prices. Growers were encouraged to know their costs, pay themselves a wage, and add a reasonable ROI when calculating their costs. Then look at tonnage required at contracted prices to assess the economic sustainability of the vineyard. DiBbuduo encouraged growers to invest in marketing their grapes and in research to keep California competitive with foreign producers. Bill Turrentine, Turrentine Brokerage, identified short- and longterm trends affecting the industry. Short-term threats include the slowdown in restaurant and wine club sales, the threat of an excise tax on wine, a liquidity challenge for growers and wineries, and water supply. Long-term, an economic recovery is predicted within 12 to 24 months. Meeting Highlights continued on page 11




There will be recognition for the 2009 Sonoma County Wine Stars in local and national ads, plus listings on the SCWC website and other Sonoma County tourism and wine websites with links to the restaurants and wineries. Listing of the current Sonoma Wine Stars can be viewed at

s o n o m a c o u n t y


Nomination and Election of Commissioners and Alternates Sonoma County Winegrape Commission Searches for Sonoma County Wine Stars By Larry Levine

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission is looking to honor restaurants and wineries that are committed to supporting the efforts of the 1,800 Sonoma County vineyard owners. Created in 2007, the Sonoma County Wine Star Program was initially open to wineries and restaurants in Sonoma County. It has been expanded to restaurants and wineries in California and throughout the country. For award criteria, visit Deadline to enter is May 15, 2009. If you know of wineries or restaurants that should be recognized as Sonoma County Wine Stars, forward their names to [email protected] For wineries, Sonoma County Wine Stars must display “Sonoma County” on the front of 95 percent of their wine labels in addition to American Viticulture Area (AVA) and/or vineyard designated wines. For restaurants in Sonoma County, Sonoma County Wine Stars must have 25 wines or more of which at least 50 percent or 50 wines are Sonoma County wines on their wine lists. Those restaurants dedicating 75 percent or 100 wines on their wine lists to Sonoma County wines will be given fourstar recognition. Restaurants outside Sonoma County, must have 25 Sonoma County wines on their wine lists to be a wine star and 50 Sonoma County wines for four-star status. New wine stars will be announced at the SCWC annual barbecue lunch on June 17 at the Dutton Pavilion at Shone Farms.

Nominations for commissioners and alternates to the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission will be received through April 30. Nomination forms can be obtained at or by calling (707) 522-5864. Any person nominated or elected as a member or alternate shall be a producer, or a representative of a producer, who has a financial interest in producing, or causing to be produced, winegrapes for market. A producer must sell 25 tons or more of winegrapes each year. All growers who sold 25 tons of grapes from the 2008 harvest are eligible to vote. Ballots with all nominees will be mailed to growers not later than May 15. Completed ballots must be mailed to SCWC by May 30. Five commissioner and five alternate positions are up for election. The top five vote getters will be named commissioners and the next five vote getters will be named alternates. Ballots will be counted by commission staff and confirmed by the Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture. Those elected will begin their two-year terms on July 1, 2009. You may nominate yourself or another grower. If you nominate another eligible grower, he or she must agree to serve if elected. Be sure to vote before the May 30 deadline! All growers in Crush District 3 are invited to attend SCWC events and programs and are eligible to serve on SCWC committees. Go to for the calendar of events.

“ Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” – B enjamin Franklin, 1706-1790



Up-Close Bob Cabral Winemaker/Managing Partner Williams-Selyem By Larry Levine


How do you select the growers you work with? Many of the growers I work with, like Joe Rochioli, were growers for Williams-Selyem from the beginning before I was involved. With these growers it is my responsibility to maintain and improve on the relationships that were already established. While we do not work with many new growers, when we do it is based on many factors: the area, the grapes, does the grower’s farming philosophy match our needs, and do I think we can get along with the grower for the long term. While it is a business, personal relationships are a critical piece. What kind of a relationship do you establish with them? Our relationships with our growers are based on mutual respect and understanding. Being a grower myself, I understand what is important to them and try to make sure we listen to what they need and support them as much as possible.

Bob Cabral has been involved in growing and making wine professionally since 1980 and has had an interest in wine and farming since his childhood, helping his grandfather make wine in his barn. A fourth generation family farmer and grape grower, he took all he learned at the family farm and applied it to his studies at Fresno State University, ultimately earning a master’s degree in enology. In the mid 1980’s while working at a large winery south of Fresno, Bob knew that Sonoma County was where he could best hone his skills and learn to make wines that could rival the best made anywhere in the world.

Like any relationship, communication is the key. We need to work together so I get what I need to get the best grapes possible for our winery and they get what they need as the growers. It is a true partnership in every sense of the word, with both of us working towards letting the fruit show the true expression of the vineyard it comes from. How often do you meet with the growers? During the non-harvest times it is usually once or twice per month, depending on the grower and the location of the vineyard. Leading up to harvest I speak to our growers just about every day. I really believe most of the work to make truly great wine occurs in the vineyard. It takes truly great fruit to make a great wine. What do you expect from the growers you work with?

He worked the next 12 vintages in various winemaking positions at DeLoach Vineyards, Kunde Estate Winery, Alderbrook Vineyards and Hartford Court Winery. In 1998, Burt Williams recommended that Bob take over for him as winemaker at Williams-Selyem.

I expect good, honest communication, and mutual respect. If there is a problem or they need something, I want to know right away so I can work with them to take care of it. If things are going well, I like to hear that too.

He just completed his 11th vintage at Williams Selyem and his winemaking philosophy has not changed.

Do you ever use the growers as part of your winery marketing program?

“The key is to respect the vineyard and respect the fruit,” Bob said. “Working with some of the best growers and vineyards in the world allows us to farm to the highest possible standards and provides us with the finest fruit available. That’s more than half the battle in working with Pinot Noir. Once the fruit is taken care of, then we try to intervene as little as possible. While there is no shortage of hard work in the cellar, you must pay careful attention to detail. Great wines are really made in the vineyard. My job is to just guide it along and allow the individual vineyard to be expressed in every bottle.”

Our growers are really part of our family here. While we don’t do much traditional marketing, we do have the growers participate at every possible chance. During our pickup weekends here at the winery, we often have multiple growers here to meet the customers and pour the wine that comes from their vineyards.

Bob, his wife Heather and daughter Paige, make their home in the Russian River Valley.

What is your favorite food and wine pairing to serve friends?

We’ve even started bringing growers with us to our sister winery in New York, where we pour wine and meet our East Coast customers. The customers always love meeting the growers and we believe that they help us really complete our story.

Abalone and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.



Fernando Gutierrez Wins 10th Annual Sonoma County Pruning Championship By Judy Tuhtan

Fernando Gutierrez of VinePro Vineyard Management representing Knights Valley, won first place honors at the 10th annual Sonoma County Pruning Championships. He expertly pruned five vines, combining speed and quality work, and collected $1,000 for his winning efforts. Second place honors went to Javier Lopez of Valdez & Sons Vineyard Management representing Russian River Valley; third place went to Pruning champion Fernando Gutierrez shows his Adam Paz of Carneros winning techniques Vineyard Management in Sonoma Valley; and fourth place was Manuel Chavez of Sonoma-Cutrer, representing Sonoma Valley Approximately 250 people attended the event to cheer on the competitors at Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm. In the celebrity winemaker/vineyard management pruning contest, the team from Russian River Valley beat teams from Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley and Knights Valley.


The purpose of the contest was to showcase the skills of the vineyard employees and to recognize that pruning is the critical start of the 2009 vintage year. Contestants included: Russian River Valley 1st Place Joaquin Andrade, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards 2nd Place Javier Lopez, Valdez & Sons Vineyard Management Sonoma Valley 1st Place Manuel Chavez, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards 2nd Place Adam Paz, Carneros Vineyard Management Dry Creek Valley 1st Place Jaime Castro, Seghesio Family Vineyards 2nd Place J. Guadalupe Madrigal, Bevill Vineyard Management Alexander Valley 1st Place Samuel Campos, Vimark Vineyards 2nd Place Clemente Martinez, Clendenen Vineyard Management Knights Valley 1st Place Salvador Gutierrez, VinePro Vineyard Management 2nd Place Fernando Gutierrez, VinePro Vineyard Management The Commission thanks all participants and sponsors in the 2009 Pruning Championships. To view photos, visit: To view the NBC-TV “In Wine Country” segment about the 2008 contest, visit:

“This is the biggest pruning event we have ever had,” said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “The quality and speed of the pruning was exceptional and it was a great day for competitors, spectators and sponsors.” First and second place winners from the recent regional contests advanced to the Sonoma County Championship (listed to the right). It was produced by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (SCWC) and major sponsors included Vineyard Industry Products, American AgCredit, Chris Maloney Crop Insurance and VinePro Vineyard Management.

“ Wine remains a simple thing, a marriage of pleasure.” – Andre Tchelistcheff, 1901-1994




Sonoma County Winegrape Growers and Vintners Establish First Ever Sonoma Summit; 36 Top Sommeliers and Wine Professionals from U.S and Japan Attend By Larry Levine

Also on each panel was one of the Summit sommeliers or wine professionals to initiate interactive discussions on how the information conveyed could be applied in their work. The Summit began with a bang with the “Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Smack Down,” featuring a blind tasting of eight Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignons with four Cabernets from the Napa Valley. “This was not meant to be a competitive tasting,” Goldstein said. “Rather it was an exploration of two top regions and the styles of wines made in each.”

A tasting of Pinot Noirs at DeLoach Winery

From the highly regarded Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, to the dense flavorful Zinfandels of Dry Creek Valley, to the elegant Cabernets of Alexander Valley, 36 noted sommeliers from the United States and Japan went on a Sonoma County journey at the inaugural Sonoma Summit Nov. 11 – 12. During the immersion sessions, attendees explored many of Sonoma County’s 13 different AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) and learned about growing grapes in the various regions while tasting a huge selection of world-class wines. Sonoma Summit was produced by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and Sonoma County Vintners with financial support from Southern Wines and Spirits. “This was a revelation for me,” said Jean-Raphael Felus, the French-born food and beverage director in charge of 20 InterContinental Hotel properties in Japan. “I didn’t realize the size and diversity of Sonoma County with its valleys, mountain ranges, Russian River and the Pacific Ocean. I have been exposed to Sonoma on this trip and like what I saw.” Sonoma Summit’s seminars were developed by Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc., under the expert direction of Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and his partner and wine industry marketing veteran Limeng Stroh. Together they created a very ambitious and high-energy series of themed panels that included many of Sonoma County’s most articulate and experienced winegrape growers and vintners.

Master of Wine Sandy Block, vice president of beverage operations for Boston’s Legal Seafoods said, “I was pleasantly surprised with the concentration and structure of the Alexander Valley wines. In the past they were lighter wines — now they stand on their own.” Other seminars included: Dry Creek Valley’s Sauvignon Blancs and Zinfandels; 2008 Harvest Report and “Best of the Boutiques Tasting;” Chardonnays from Across Sonoma Valley, Bennett Valley and Carneros; High Altitude Merlots; Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir — A View Through Two Vineyards in Russian River Valley; and the Sonoma Coast Wine & Food Seminar featuring Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. As a fun intermezzo between the seminars, meals and tasting of more than 100 Sonoma County wines, there was the Sonoma Summit Iron Sommelier Challenge. The attendees were broken into four teams and were given three wines from three different AVA — 12 in all. They then had to create and prepare a dish for each wine using ingredients from an open marketplace. Each group had a cooking area and a culinary professional to assist them. During the preparation time, Goldstein had a running commentary with the Food Network’s “Glutton for Punishment” star Bob Blumer. Overall, Goldstein felt that the Sonoma Summit was, “a great opportunity for a small group of important sommeliers, wine buyers and wine industry influentials to open their eyes to the breadth and diversity of high-quality wines that makes Sonoma County so special.”

Continued on page 12



Marketing Update By Larry Levine

The Commision entered 2009 with even greater dedication to increase the value of Sonoma County grapes for growers, your winery customers and their consumers. Marketing investments are often cut in response to a poor economy, but your assessment dollars are allowing us to maintain marketing programs in spite of a small harvest in 2008. Sonoma County is positioned to grow its market share during this market downturn and ultimate recovery by continuing marketing programs that build value for Sonoma County grapes and wines. Few wine regions are better positioned than Sonoma County to sustain our positive marketing momentum during this difficult economic environment. Here are some of the programs we have planned: 1. Website Upgrades and Redesign: We are continuing to upgrade the Commission website to make it a hub for information for growers, vintners and consumers. Please contact the Commission with any thoughts on how we can better serve your needs. 2. Sonoma County Winegrape Commission Grape Trade Publication Ads: The trade ad campaign directed at winemakers and grape buyers was launched in January. It features the Commission’s web Grape Marketplace. We also recently sent a direct mail piece to California grape buyers about the Marketplace. 3. Consumer Outreach: The Commission is partnering again this year with the Russian River Valley AVA with a five-ad program (two pages each) in Food and Wine Magazine. As part of this promotion, we will also represent Sonoma County at the prestigious Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival in April and the Aspen Food and Wine Festival in June. 4. Sonoma County Wine Stars: Our program to recognize and thank restaurants and wineries that feature Sonoma County Wines on their wine lists or wine labels is a big success. Both the restaurants and the wineries are excited about the program and many are proudly displaying their Sonoma County Wine Star plaques in their establishments. We successfully expanded the program in 2008 and increased the number of wineries and restaurants in the Bay Area and Sacramento. This year we will go national. The new wine stars will be announced at the annual Commission’s BBQ & Tradeshow on June 17.


5. Print Piece Update: The Sonoma County Grape Camp brochure is now completed. This year we partnered with the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, which will use the Grape Camp concept for bringing in corporate and consumer groups into the area throughout of the year, not just during harvest. 6. Event Update: Sonoma in the City, Austin, May 19 and Chicago June 2: Featuring an extensive Sonoma County and AVA tasting for top media and trade, a seminar program with both growers and vintners and a tasting from more than 25 Sonoma County wineries. It is sponsored by the Sonoma County Vintners, the Commission and several AVA groups. •

2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, Sonoma County (July 24 – 26): The Commission will again be a sponsor of this important new media conference. We were very instrumental in keeping the conference in Sonoma County. •

San Francisco Food & Wine Festival, San Francisco Union Square (Aug. 6 – 9): SCWC will partner with the Sonoma County Vintners and AVAs for tastings with both growers and vintners. Sonoma County will be featured in this new event as a result of the SCV’s partnership with Visa Signature. •

Russian River Pinot Forum, Russian River Valley (August 9 – 11): SCWC will again sponsor this event and provide overall Sonoma County vineyard and wine information at both seminars and in conference reference materials to 60 top sommeliers that attend this annual event. •

The Sonoma County Wine Country Weekend (Sept. 4 – 6): will be bigger and better than ever with the Sonoma County Showcase and Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction again joining forces for a Labor Day weekend extravanganza. On Saturday, we will again host a “Grower’s Crush Pad” at MacMurray Ranch and offer vineyard tours. •

Sonoma County Grape Camp Promotion (Sept. 21 – 23): will be even better than last year and is almost half full with campers already. Selected top media will be invited to experience the Sonoma County harvest and share it with consumers around the world. For information go to •

• Sonoma Summit, Sonoma County (Nov. 11 – 13): This top national sommelier and retail program hosted by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and produced by the Commission and Vintners was such a big success that we will do it again this year. For a report from last year, see page 7.

Additionally SCWC will be involved in several AVA-sponsored events that the Commission supports with the Sonoma County Cooperative Marketing Program for AVAs.



Sonoma County Winegrape Commission – Grape Marketplace


Staff Corner Larry N. Levine Vice President of Marketing and Communications By Ginger Baker

Enhancements have been made to the Grape Marketplace: Growers will be notified by email 10 days before a marketplace listing will be removed. Growers have the option to renew their grape marketplace listing if grapes have not been sold. •

Growers can post grapes for sale on Sonoma County Winegrape Marketplace and their ads will also appear on Wine Business Monthly grapes for sale listings. •

Grower Profiles are located at and can now be linked to your user profile.

Larry grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. He moved to Santa Rosa in 1995. Prior to joining the Commission staff, he was public relations and marketing manager at Schramsberg Vineyards in the Napa Valley and the former owner of the award-winning food, restaurant and beverage specialty firm, Levine Group Public Relations since 1988.

SCWC Grape Marketplace “Need Grapes” postcard has been sent to wineries in Sonoma County and surrounding areas directing grape buyers to our website. SCWC advertising campaign for the Grape Marketplace will continue to be published in trade magazines; Vineyard & Winery Management, Wines & Vines, Practical Winery & Vineyard and Wine Business Monthly. SCWC encourages growers and wineries to post grapes for sale or grapes wanted. Look for information sheets and ask questions regarding this valuable tool at your next SCWC event. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact [email protected] or call (707) 522-5864. SCWC will continue to make enhancements to the Grape Marketplace. We welcome any feedback that you may have regarding your experience when using it.

Four years ago, he closed his agency to follow his dream of working hands-on in his favorite industry, the wine business. At Levine Group Public Relations, Larry worked on such accounts as La Toque restaurant in Napa, Mixx restaurant in Santa Rosa, San Pellegrino and Perrier Spring Waters, Radisson Hotels, Chocolates a la Carte, Lawry’s Restaurants, The James Beard Foundation, The U.S. World Cup Pastry Team and the Italian Trade Commission of New York. Prior to developing his own company, Levine spent five years at Lee & Associates, a pioneer food and beverage public relations and advertising firm in Los Angeles. Earlier in his career, he sold wine in fine wine stores and for an importer/distributor in Los Angeles. He also was a freelance wine and food writer and hosted a wine radio show on NPR in Los Angeles. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of U.C.L.A. in political science, Larry lives in Santa Rosa, with his Dutch wife, Sippy, and 19-year-old daughter Freesia now attending Barnard College at Columbia University. He enjoys dining in small ethnic restaurants, drinking delicious wines, playing golf, tennis and gardening in his backyard.




The Organic Producers Group

PCA Breakfast Meetings PCA, QAL, or PA, or those of you who are making vineyard pest management decisions are invited to attend PCA Breakfast meetings the first Tuesday of each month at Star Town Restaurant in Windsor to discuss current pest and disease pressures and management strategies. Laura Breyer, Breyer IPM Vineyard Service, leads the group discussions. April 7: Shoot Blight, Early Mites, Sharpshooter trapping, Weeds, and Laws and Regulations update by Sonoma County Agriculture Commissioner’s staff. One hour of CEU is available.

A barn owl is used for gopher management

The Organic Producers Group has informal meetings focused on organic grape growing education and grower-to-grower exchange of ideas and practical information. The meetings are held at different organic growers’ vineyards throughout the county. The meeting format includes a talk by the host about the vineyard site with its particular successes and challenges, followed by a general discussion on specific topics such as mildew, and other items brought up by the group. Growers interested in organic production or in learning specific organic production practices are invited. Demonstrations of new and interesting products are often a part of the programs which are followed by lunch. 2009 Organic Producers Meeting Fourth Wednesday of Month, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. April 22:

Kiger Family Vineyards Hosts: John & Deb Kiger 282 Somerville Rd, Santa Rosa Demo: Segway – off road

May 27:

Forth Vineyards Hosts: Gerry & Jann Forth 2335 W. Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg

June 24:

Hawley Vineyard Host: John Hawley & Sons 6387 W. Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg

July 22:

Medlock-Ames Winery Host: Ames Morison 13414 Chalk Hill Rd, Geyserville

Reservations requested to [email protected] or fax: (707) 522-5862 Check the SCWC website calendar at for more events and information.

Please see meeting schedules and locations at for 2009 if you are interested in attending any of these meetings. CEUs are available. If you want to be on the e-mail list to receive monthly meeting reminders, please email: [email protected] or call Judy at (707) 522-5862. Contact information: Nick Frey, 707-522-5861, e-mail: [email protected]

Frost Protection continued from page 1

Guidelines1: These apply only when frost is predicted. Turn off sprinklers when air temperatures rise back to 34°F, ice is melted, or wet bulb temperature exceeds 32°F: •

Dew point greater than 35°F: Little chance of frost damage2 • Dew point of 24°F or higher: Turn on sprinklers at 34°F air temp. • Dew point between 20 and 23°F: Turn on sprinklers at 35°F air temp. • Dew point of 19°F or lower: Turn on sprinklers at 36°F air temp. •

If using a wet-bulb device, frost control must be active for wet bulb temperatures of 32°F or lower. •

Wet soil surfaces conduct and store heat better than dry ones. If soil dries out by late spring and frost is forecast, periodic, brief irrigations (1-2 gallons per vine) may help. •

Use wind machines to assist in frost control, where available and applicable. •

Snyder, R. (2000) Principles of Frost Protection. University of California Regents.


Glen McGourty, Oral presentation. UC Cooperative Extension.






Meeting Highlights continued from page 3

IPM Grower Appellation Meetings

Millennials like wine and they can expand consumption for years to come. The Millennial generation numbers 70 million, and 23 million are not yet 21 years old. Turrentine reported that global supply and demand are in reasonable balance today. The one exception is Australia with oversupplies of Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot, and the 2009 crop will add to the excess.

IPM meeting at Laguna Ranch in Russian River Valley

Have you ever attended an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Grower Appellation Meeting? The meetings are a great way to learn from other growers and to share your pest management experiences. What pest management strategies have you tried that reduced risks and worked? What has failed? Come, share, learn and get CEU credits. The SCWC IPM Grower Appellation Meetings are held in the second week of the month from April – July. Be sure to bring a grower neighbor! 2009 IPM Grower Appellation Meeting Schedule: Russian River Valley: Host: Dennis Devitt, Laguna Ranch, 2043 Laguna Rd, Santa Rosa, TUESDAYS, April 14, May 12, June 9, July 14 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. Sonoma Valley: Barricia Vineyards, Host: Mel & Angela Dagovitz, 15700 Hwy 12, Sonoma, WEDNESDAYS, April 15, May 13, June 10, July 15 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. Dry Creek Valley: Rued Vineyards, Host: Richard Rued, 3850 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, THURSDAYS April 16, May 14, June 11, July 16 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. Alexander Valley: Jordan Vineyards, Host: Dana Grande, 2710 W. Soda Rock Rd, Healdsburg, THURSDAYS, April 16, May 14, June 11, July 16 from 10:30 a.m. – noon There is no charge for any session and meetings are open to all Sonoma & Marin County growers. No pre-registration is necessary. Discussion topics subject to change. 1.5 CEU will be available. The IPM / Organic Field Day will be Aug. 6. Contact Judy at [email protected] for more info.

Bulk wine supplies from Sonoma County are limited, with shortages likely in Chardonnay going forward. Bulk supplies of Pinot Noir are increasing, and higher priced lots are not moving. Demand for Pinot Noir is becoming price sensitive. Large acreages of Pinot Noir from warmer regions are lower priced and may fill the gap in the market for other red wines that are likely to be in short supply. (There are approximately 3,700 acres of Pinot Noir planted in the interior of California.) Jon Fredrikson, Gomberg-Fredrikson and Associates, reported California wine shipments increased two percent or 3.9 million cases in 2008. Import case sales declined 2.7 percent, but bulk imports increased 2.9 percent. Future growth in wine sales is at risk due to the recession. Restaurant sales declined dramatically in November and were estimated to be down 10-12 percent for the year. This decline is especially worrisome for Sonoma County wines since restaurants are a major outlet for high-end wines, i.e. wines over $20 per bottle that saw a sales decrease in the last quarter of 2008. Wine club sales, which are critical to many local wineries’ profits, have also been affected by the weakened economy. Wine sales volume is holding up, but there is a clear shift to lower priced wines. One speaker commented that “$10 is the new $20 per bottle wine, and $20 is the new $100 per bottle wine.” While the recession creates a dark cloud over Sonoma County wineries, and therefore growers, there are positive signs in the market. Courtney Cochran, Your Personal Sommelier, reported off-premise wine sales are up as more consumers eat at home and enjoy wine with dinner. Also, Millenials are drinking wine in wine bars as a cocktail. Wine marketers were challenged to bring wine to the table with the foods Millenials eat. Cochran also said the “foodie culture” that has developed will be good for wine sales. One in five households say they have a gourmet cook. Those households spend 66 percent more on alcohol than households not claiming to have a gourmet cook. John Gillespie, Wine Market Council, reported that Millenials were still drinking more wine in October, while older consumers had already reduced purchases. A Wine Opinions survey in 2007 of individuals involved in the wine trade, i.e. wholesale, retail Continued on page 12




Meeting Highlights continued from page 11

Sonoma Summit continued from page 7

and restaurants, believe the wine market will grow somewhat in 2009 (51 percent of respondents) while 31 percent feel sales will be flat. Malbec and Tempranillo are predicted to grow, along with Grenache. The respondents (72 percent) predict strong growth for screw caps as well.

Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, said it was a terrific vehicle to showcase all the strengths of Sonoma County as a wine-producing region.

The critical opportunity is to increase market share for Sonoma County wines in the over $15 per bottle segment now and to position ourselves for growth as the economy rebounds. Danny Brager, VP Group Client Director, Beverage Alcohol at the Nielson Company, reported at a recent Wine Market Council presentation, that during the early 1980s’ recession, companies that maintained aggressive sales and marketing efforts during recessions enjoyed more growth after the recession. Revenue growth percent in the first five years after recession was 27.5 percent. Companies that cut sales and marketing efforts during recession had revenue growth of 19 percent over the same five-year period. The Commission will maintain its marketing efforts at current levels and will continue to leverage grower dollars by cooperating with other organizations who are promoting Sonoma County and its grapes and wines. Our marketing partnerships with Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, and with our AVAs are extending the Sonoma County brand message at this critical economic time.

“We were able to put together panels with winegrape growers and winemakers to communicate the strong relationship that exists between growing great grapes and making great wines,” he said. “We are thrilled with our first Sonoma Summit,” says Honore Comfort, executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners. “We only heard positive remarks about the Summit from the attendees and hope to make it an annual event.” All Summit seminars and events were hosted at wineries including Rodney Strong Vineyards, Clos du Bois, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery, Paradise Ridge Winery, Kendall-Jackson, DeLoach Vineyards and Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards. The Sonoma Hilton was the host hotel. Perhaps the Sonoma Summit experience was best summed up by Devon Broglie, wine and beverage buyer for Whole Food Markets in the Southwest U.S. region, “It was an incredible opportunity to discover the diversity of Sonoma County and to experience it with a group of my peers. I can’t wait to convey what I learned to my Whole Foods team members and guests who shop in our stores.” In 2009, the Sonoma Summit will be held in November in Sonoma County. Mini versions will be conducted in Austin in May and Chicago in June.

Vine Mealybug IPM for the North Coast By Nick Frey

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission received a grant from US EPA Region 9 to develop an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) for Vine Mealybug (VMB) on the North Coast. Lucia Varela, UCCE, conducted field research and the Commission provided grower outreach. The research indicated that a majority of VMB are under the bark and often below the graft union during January and February, and thus delayed dormant sprays at that time are less likely to be effective. Use of mating disruption and insect growth regulators during the growing season when nymphs are present are low risk components of an IPM control program. To see a summary of the research report, including forming neighborhood groups to coordinate VMB trapping and to exchange control strategies where known infestations occur, go to http://www.

Grape cluster with Vine Mealybugs




Sustainability and Sonoma County By Nick Frey

Demeritt feels consumers want a social benefit, not just a “green” product. In products like wine, both local production and “locale” are important, i.e. the place where the product comes from. Consumers are looking at labels for information on sustainability. That might be a certification seal, but it can also be a story. Producers can tell what is being done to improve sustainability and their aspirations. When it comes to wine, it was reported that Safeway customers already perceive wine to be a natural product. Thus the wine industry needs to be careful in positioning organic and biodynamic. I believe using sustainability as the umbrella concept, with organic and biodynamic as just two approaches to sustainability under that umbrella, is most inclusive.

Jeff Kunde leads regular Eco consumer tours at Kunde Winery

Sonoma County is a leader in sustainable practices. County government has made sustainability a priority. Sonoma County grape growers and wineries have been leaders in adopting the Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers Sustainable Winegrowing Program. More than 275 growers who farm over 26,000 acres have done self-assessments of their farming operations and submitted the data for inclusion in the California Sustainability Report. And additional Sonoma County growers and wineries continue to participate in this program. (If you would like to attend a self-assessment workshop, e-mail [email protected] or call 707-522-5862.) Sustainability was the program focus for day 1 at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. Ken McCorkle, Wells Fargo Bank, sees several incentives for adopting sustainable practices as follows: • Lower

costs of production by reducing input costs;

• Differentiation

of your product: UK consumers indicate a willingness to pay more for sustainable products; • Help

manage downside risks from price volatility of inputs, e.g. energy and water; • Respond

to government regulations and reduce risks.

Laurie Demeritt, the Hartman Group, reported on consumer research in the US. Their research also indicates consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, at least on a trial basis. Still there is not good understanding of what sustainability means. (It is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.) But consumers do perceive “responsibility” as part of the product.

The Commission continues to work with National Marine Fisheries Services to adapt the Sustainable Winegrowing Program as part of a program for growers wanting incidental take protection for salmon and steelhead. This effort is seeking to provide growers with more regulatory certainty under the Endangered Species Act. Sustainability is becoming a mainstream expectation in our society and in our grape growing. Sonoma County growers have been early adopters of sustainable practices and those efforts position us well for the future.

Sonoma Tourism Bureau Features New Visitors Guide If you are looking for new places to take visitors, or if you have visitors coming to Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Visitors Bureau has just released its new visitors guide. Organized for the first time by the major AVA areas, this handy guide is an excellent resource. You can pick one up at the Commission offices or order one online at no cost at








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April – June Sonoma County Winegrape Commission Calendar Please check the calendar at for a complete listing of events Apr 7

PCA Breakfast Meeting Star Town Restaurant, 8499 Old Redwood Hwy, 7 – 8:30 a.m. Contact: (707) 522-5861

Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 16

IPM GAM Meetings – Info: (707) 522-5862 Laguna Ranch, 2043 Laguna Rd, 9 – 10:30 a.m. Barricia Vineyards, 15700 Sonoma Hwy, 9 – 10:30 a.m. Rued Vineyards, 3850 Dry Creek Rd, 8 – 9:30 a.m. Jordan Vineyards, 2710 W. Soda Rock Rd, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Apr 22

Organic Producers Group Kiger Family Vineyards, 282 Somerville Rd, Santa Rosa, 10 – 11:30 a.m. Reservations: (707) 522-5862

May 5

PCA Breakfast Meeting (see above info for location and time)

May 12

Smart Marketer Meeting, Hilton Hotel, 3555 Round Barn Blvd, 4 p.m. Contact: Ginger (707) 522-5864

May 12 – 14 IPM GAM Meetings (see above info for locations and times) May 27

Organic Producers Group Forth Vineyards, 2335 W. Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, 10 – 11:30 a.m. Reservations: (707) 522-5862

Jun 17

Grower Seminar, Tradeshow & BBQ Shone Farm, 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Contact: (707) 522-5864