Advocating for a Resilient Napa Valley
At the Napa Valley Grapegrowers we center our advocacy, research, and education on supporting the community, including the crucial preparation for, and resiliency in the face of, wildfire risks. We are grateful to all the industry and community partners that have worked with us on the following efforts.
To urge Napa County to include funding for fire-related initiatives in its five-year budget forecast, we recently sent a letter to the Napa County Board of Supervisors making this request. The letter seeks funding for a county staff department head for fire issues, Napa Firewise’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and a review of current and new early detection systems and technologies. Napa County’s action on these initiatives will provide oversight on CAL FIRE’s $30 million-dollar contract, help to reduce wildfire-fuel load, and identify new technologies that help to alert emergency responders as soon as a fire ignites, potentially saving the loss of lives and property.
A Commitment to Wildfire Resiliency at the Second Fire Resources Fair
Photo by Sarah Anne Risk
Our Fire Resources Fair expanded this year to include 60 vendors at the Napa Valley Expo. In partnership with the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Firewise and CAL FIRE / Napa County Fire, the event was open to the public free of charge. Attendees were provided with a range of information for safeguarding their property, vineyards, and homes in the event of a wildfire—an ongoing threat despite our wet winter. By providing these resources, attendees who take action can potentially prevent and mitigate the risk of loss in the case of a wildfire.
If you missed the fair, you can find detailed checklists on wildfire preparedness for home and property, fire emergency protocol, and dealing with smoke exposure along with videos on risk management, crop insurance and proper record keeping in both English and Spanish.
Support for California Assembly Bill 54
In March, we submitted a letter of support to the Chair on the Assembly Committee for Agriculture on behalf of Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry's CA AB 54, which will create an advisory committee to recommend the distribution of state funds for winegrape smoke exposure research. Additionally, we provided a letter of support to four Chairs in the Senate and Assembly budget committees to request $5 million to research smoke impact on winegrapes. The losses from wildfires and smoke exposure potentially impacts all of California due to property loss, wage loss, loss of tourism, and loss of production due to smoke exposed grapes. Research to understand and mitigate the impact is critical to avoiding the catastrophic losses of the last six years.
Baseline Data Research with ETS Labs
It was a groundbreaking effort in 2021, when we formed a partnership with ETS Laboratories to conduct baseline data research on smoke exposure and wine grapes, building the world’s largest library of grape samples in the process. Now in its third year, we are happy to continue working with ETS on the findings of this research, which has the potential to influence grape-harvesting decisions in times of fire disaster and even insurance reform.
Insurance and Disaster Relief
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers continues to support Congressman Mike Thompson’s staff as they work to update the 2023 Farm Bill to improve crop insurance coverage and design a permanent disaster assistance program.
After more than two years of advocacy work, we continue to monitor the rollout of the Emergency Relief Program to ensure growers receive recovery aid. As part of this we continue to partner with Morrison & Co., to provide free technical assistance to producers, which to date has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in recovery aid awarded to Napa Valley Grapegrowers members.
Photos by Sarah Anne Risk
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), CAL FIRE/Napa County Fire, and Napa Firewise have partnered again on a communitywide Fire Resources Fair, held on April 11. This annual fair brought together members of the wine industry, community organizations and local businesses to learn how they can help prevent and mitigate wildfires, as well as how to navigate evacuations and insurance. The Fair was held at the Napa Valley Expo’s Chardonnay Hall and was free for the entire community to attend.
The organizations brought together 60 exhibitors to share knowledge and services with Napa residents, and those of neighboring counties. Attendees benefitted from the in-person combination of wildfire mitigation, prevention, preparedness, resiliency, and recovery services all in one place.
“This event serves as a reminder that community-based, collective action is incredibly strengthening and builds cohesion among stakeholders. We look forward to partnering with Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Firewise, and CAL FIRE/Napa County Fire each year to build bridges between our community and service providers, as well as provide resources to help us all be more fire-ready,” said Molly Moran Williams, industry and community relations director for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
Attendees experienced everything from electric and robotic lawnmowers to holding three-day-old goats. Visitors also had the opportunity to see the latest in early wildfire detection sensors, learn about the value of ruminant animals in the context of wildfire, and see actionable steps to better position themselves for future fire seasons.
Not only did private organizations, Napa County representatives and non-profits share their work with the community, but the whole CAL FIRE team did as well. Our local firefighters, including Chief Michael Marcucci of CAL FIRE/Napa County Fire, joined the Fire Resources Fair to speak with community members on the importance of preparing themselves and their properties. To this end, Chief Marcucci shared the following: “The mission and responsibility of building a fire resilient community is all of ours. The Fire Resources Fair event continues to bring us together with stakeholders and community members and allows us to provide education about fuels reduction best practices. We are not only excited to participate in the event but also thankful for the opportunity to be a host along with Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners and Napa Firewise. We look forward to next year’s event and providing as many options as possible for our community to implement their projects!”
Shari Gardner, the Napa Firewise director of wildfire preparedness, also connected with Napa locals on fire safety, adding, “Fire Resource Fairs are such a valuable tool for sharing the latest information about wildfire preparedness. We were thrilled with the wide variety of exhibitors at this year's fair. This event provided an opportunity for people to learn about new technologies and cost saving opportunities, connect with contractors, and ask lots of questions. Community members are working hard to improve the defensible space around their homes, and this was a great source of inspiration and resources to get the job done. This fair was also an excellent opportunity for fire mitigation specialists to network and share expertise. We love to see the community come together to address wildfire risk.”
Photo by Suzanne Becker Bronk
Garrett Buckland has been honored with the 2023 Napa Valley Grower of the Year award. Buckland is a partner at Premiere Viticultural Services, a vineyard consulting company based in Napa.
As an active member of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, for over 10 years he has served on the board of directors in various roles, including past president, vice president, and treasurer, and is a founding member of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation. However, his community service goes well-beyond the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. He serves on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee, volunteers for the Napa Resources Conservations District, where he surveyed Huichica Creek, Dry Creek, and Sulphur Creek, sits on the Clean Plant Material Advisory Board, is past president of the Napa Valley Vit Tech Group, is past conference chair of the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, and worked on the Napa River Historical Ecology Project. He is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming and has successfully converted over 500 acres of vineyards from conventional to organic farming.
In 2002, Buckland and Steve Matthiasson joined forces to create Premiere Viticultural Services. As a partner of the business, Garrett works with landowners in the development of their properties. His goal is to help them advance farming practices and works with winemakers to elevate wine quality. In his “free time”, Garrett has published dozens of articles to the Napa Valley Register, plus viticultural best practices papers for the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, and is often cited for television, print, and radio regarding the growing season.
NVG President Mary Maher noted, “I couldn’t be more excited to recognize Garrett Buckland as our 2023 Grower of the Year. His commitment to this organization and the future of Napa Valley grape growing is second to none. We need more next generation leaders like Garrett, he’s an asset to the community, and motivates us to continually do better.”
Buckland was born and raised in the Napa Valley. He continues to dedicate his career to pursuing viticultural excellence, and is a vocal advocate for agriculture, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, and the Napa Valley as a whole.
Garrett is an avid outdoorsman, with an interest in fly fishing, hunting, bird watching, and gardening. He and his wife, Nathalie, live in Napa with their two children, Juliette, and Marten.
Nominations for the Grower of the Year come from the NVG membership. The recipient is chosen by a special Selection Committee made up of Past Presidents, current Directors, and active committee members. The award criteria include: a strong commitment to sustainable practices; recognized leadership in agricultural preservation; dedicated community focus, contributions to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers; and someone who actively promotes Napa’s reputation for the highest quality vineyards.