Groundwater Sustainability: Napa Valley Grapegrowers Advocacy and Conservation Resources
Over the last several years, Napa Valley Grapegrowers has represented growers in critical discussions on the sustainable management of Napa County’s groundwater resources, including via representation on the Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee. On January 26, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced their approval of the Napa Valley Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).
To learn more about the GSP and complying with the new standards, visit NVG’s new dedicated Groundwater Sustainability Plan website.
NVG has also compiled tools and resources to assist growers with water mitigation efforts, including recordings from our recent Water Conservation Seminar, as well as other past programs. Find these videos and more on our website.
Sheep feasting on cover crop at Artesa Vineyards and Winery. Photo by Sarah Anne Risk
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) is pleased to be selected as a 1% for the Planet Environmental Partner. 1% for the Planet is a global movement, created by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Files, that provides organizations with support for solving the planet’s problems. The carefully vetted approval process reviewed the NVG for its advocacy, conservation, stewardship, and education efforts toward a brighter future.
To be eligible, the NVG met the following qualifications:
As part of the rigorous selection process, NVG’s educational programming on environmental topics was assessed as was its annual calendar, which addresses the concerns we all face, such as water conservation and wildfire preparedness. Additionally, NVG programs, like its Low Smoke Burning Program and Climate Science Series, taught by UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Senior Lecturer Drew Issacs, were also taken into consideration.
With this recognition, NVG gains access to a network of 1% for the Planet Business members that actively commit to giving 1% of gross sales to organizations making positive changes for the environment. Business members support 1% for the Planet Environmental Partners with monetary donations, volunteer time, in-kind donations, and other forms of promotion, and select which Environmental Partners to support.
The NVG is grateful to 1% for the Planet Business member, Paradigm Winery, for nominating it as an Environmental Partner. Through 1% for the Planet, the NVG is excited to build a broader network of environment-conscious businesses and organizations throughout Napa, the Northern California Bay Area, and beyond.
To learn more about 1% for the Planet, visit onepercentfortheplanet.org.
Applies to the Following Counties:
Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Trinity
Thank you Rosasco Law Group for the following information:
Who must pay this new Prevailing Wage?
H-2A employers are required to pay the highest of the following: the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (“AEWR”), the agreed-upon collective bargaining wage, the Federal minimum wage, the State minimum wage, or the Prevailing Wage. The new California AEWR of $18.65 took effect January 1, 2023. However, the California Employment Development Department (“EDD”) recently submitted a new Domestic Agricultural In-Season Wage Report to the Department of Labor (“DOL”) where they determined the new Prevailing Wage for H-2A agricultural workers engaged in general vineyard work (everything leading up to harvest) is $19.65 for workers in the North Coast wage reporting area which includes: Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Trinity counties. Since the Prevailing Wage is now higher than the AEWR, employers in the previously mentioned counties must now pay $19.65 to their H-2A workers and their domestic workers in corresponding employment.
When do I need to start paying the new Prevailing Wage?
Employers do not technically have to pay this new rate until they have received notice from the Chicago National Processing Center (“NPC”) but the new wage rate is retroactive to the date it went into effect and the new prevailing wage went into effect on November 8, 2022. Instead of waiting for notice, you should start paying this rate immediately because if you don’t, you will have to correct wage statements, this could trigger waiting time penalties if these workers no longer work for you, you’ll have to find these workers, and you must pay workers the difference (regular pay, overtime, bonuses, etc.) if they were paid less than $19.65 from November 8, 2022 to when you received notice of the new rate.
What if I can’t find an employee to give them their check?
Remember, if you can’t find an employee to give them their last paycheck, document the efforts taken to locate them, and send their check to the California Labor Commissioner so they can hold it in their Unpaid Wages Fund.
How long will the new Prevailing wage be in effect?
The new rate took effect on November 8, 2022 and is effective for one year after it is posted on the AOWL website or until it is replaced with an adjusted prevailing wage, whichever comes first. If a prevailing wage was guaranteed on a job order and that prevailing wage expires during the work contract, the employer must continue to guarantee at least the expired prevailing wage rate.
We’ve heard that some employers are fighting this new Prevailing Wage, but relief is not likely to come anytime soon. We do not recommend ignoring the new Prevailing Wage in the hopes it will go away or be invalidated.
How do I find Prevailing Wage rates?
Prevailing wages are posted by the Office of Foreign Labor Certifications (“OFLC”) to the Agricultural Online Wage Library (“AOWL”) website:
Employers should check this website regularly as the prevailing wage is effective immediately once posted.
How are Prevailing Wage rates determined?
The California EDD claims it does wage surveys twice a year, after harvest and then again for pre-harvest or general vineyard work. EDD will likely do the harvest prevailing wage survey in January 2023; it usually takes a month to complete, and the findings would likely be sent to DOL towards the end of February 2023. Once a new Prevailing Wage has been approved by DOL, it will be posted to the AOWL website as stated above. EDD generally only reaches out to employers via email and the reports are based on the information obtained from the employers that respond. If employer participation is low, the numbers could be skewed either high or low. If more employers participate, the numbers may be more accurate. You may need to check your spam folders to find an email from the EDD. Employers who pay unusually high wages may skew the prevailing wages to a higher amount if they respond to EDD’s survey.
I do not directly employ any H-2A workers so I’m in the clear, right?
If you do not directly employ H-2A employees but use a Farm Labor Contractor (“FLC”) who provides you with H-2A workers, this does not guarantee you are in the clear. Growers and FLCs are frequently found to be joint employers with their FLCs; if you are found to be a joint employer with your FLC then this is another way to establish that the H-2A workers are your employees too. This is a fact intensive analysis that must be done on a case-by-case basis, so please contact Rosasco Law Group for a joint employment analysis.
Once joint employment has been established, then employers need to know how to determine which domestic workers fall into the “corresponding employment” category because domestic workers in corresponding employment are entitled to the same wage rates as the H-2A workers (this might also include offering the same benefits offered to H-2A workers such as housing, meals, and/or transportation). This is a complex area of law and answers will depend on the facts and circumstances unique to each employer. Please reach out to Rosasco Law Group for further assistance.
Fire Master Plan & Relief Funding
Napa County Fire Needs Assessment
As a result of NVG's wildfire advocacy efforts, in conjunction with industry and community partners, Napa County Fire is conducting a critical Fire Needs Assessment. NVG urges growers to participate in this process, so that the ag community’s needs are incorporated into the Fire Master Plan.
Virtual Town Hall Meeting:
Current and Future Fire Services
Wednesday, January 25 | 6:00pm | Zoom
Event Zoom Link
The community is invited to participate in a virtual Town Hall meeting to discuss Napa County’s Fire Master Plan and determine current and future fire services provided by Napa County. Visit Napa County Fire’s website and read the press release for more information.
All community members are encouraged to participate in a survey, which will be available immediately following the Town Hall: View the Survey
Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase 2 Funding
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has recently released new information regarding the Emergency Relief Program – Phase 2. This program provides financial assistance for losses to crops, trees, bushes, and vines due to qualifying natural disaster events, such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, excessive heat, freeze, smoke exposure, and qualifying drought that occurred in the 2020 or 2021 calendar year, up to $900,000 for winegrape producers.
Enrollment opens for ERP Phase Two on January 23, 2023 and runs through June 2, 2023. Our grant writing partners at Morrison can help producers navigate the eligibility and application process, call (530) 893-4764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase II
Monday, January 23 | 10:00am | Zoom
Event Zoom Link
Webinar ID: 897 1465 9055
Congressman Mike Thompson will also be hosting a webinar with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Phase 2 of the ERP (previously WHIP+). To let his staff know you're attending, RSVP.
ERP Phase 2 Letter from Congressman Thompson
USDA ERP FAQs
by Carmela Guaglianone, SF Examiner
As sheets of rain and hail pounded parts of San Francisco Tuesday, Michael Baldacci, owner and winemaker at Baldacci Family Vineyards, looked out his window at the renowned Stags Leap District in Napa County and saw his cover crops coming to life.
Although intense storms continue to wreak widespread damage across the state, the wet weather is a boon for winemakers, who have long been waiting for the rain.
“It just feels like we’ve been kind of praying for this,” said Baldacci. “The rains really have been something that we’ve welcomed the last couple of weeks.”
Had this storm surge come later in the season, vintners may have been whistling a different tune. But the grapevines are currently in their winter dormancy, a stage between harvest and bud break when the vine drops its leaves and goes into a protective mode for the winter months.
During dormancy, “all rain is good rain,” said Justin Leigon, viticulturist and board member of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
That means there won’t be any direct impact on the grapevines or the wine that they produce, said Megan Bartlett, a plant biologist at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology. However, wet and humid conditions could increase the chance for fungal disease later in the season.
Saint Helena, CA (10/27/2022) - The 2022 harvest has concluded for most wineries and growers across Napa Valley. With climate variability as the new normal, Napa Valley grape growers aim to be the tip of the spear when it comes to resiliency and adaptability. This year, their preparation and experience paid off. Winemakers are referring to 2022 as “the tale of two harvests," making it one of the more unique vintages in recent history.
NOTES FROM THE VINEYARD (from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers)
In March, bud break started in Carneros and throughout some mountain appellations. Leading into May, the vines showed strong shoot growth and average crop yields. Early July kicked off veraison and the countdown to harvest began.
When faced with heat and rain events this year, grape growers showed foresight. “August provided warm days and cool nights, perfect for ripening. Then in September, we experienced a 5-day-long heat wave in the triple digits, which shifted our farming and harvest plan…but we’ve been preparing,” said Macy Stubstad, Director of Vineyard Operations for Lawrence Wine Estates. “We use a range of different trellis systems that splits and flops the canopy over the vines to protect the crop from strong morning and afternoon sun, allowing the fruit to retain acidity and freshness.”
Soon following the heat spike, Napa Valley received 0.6 – 1.2 inches of rainfall. “Crews opened up canopies for airflow, which alleviated mold and botrytis and allowed us to harvest clean fruit,” said Stubstad. And for Matt Ward, winemaker for Pride Mountain Vineyards, the rain event “plumped up” fruit still hanging on the vines.
With harvest complete, growers will ready for winter rainfall. They will put erosion control plans to work, spread compost throughout vineyards, aerate soils and prepare to seed for cover crop.
NOTES FROM THE WINERY (from the Napa Valley Vintners)
The white wine harvest kicked off in early August, followed quickly by red wine varieties. The typical gap between the white and red wine harvest was almost nonexistent, and the frenzied tempo continued until the rains came and the weather cooled in October.
“I’m calling 2022 a tale of two harvests. From August to mid-September it was intense and fast-paced. The rain in mid-September created a gap and sudden halt to harvest. The fruit that came in after had beautiful mild weather in early October and lots of time to get to perfect ripeness,” said Elizabeth Vianna, Winemaker and General Manager at Chimney Rock Winery.
Winemakers describe the 2022 white wines as having perfect acidity and freshness with remarkable flavors and textures, and red wines as excellent structured with deep red colors, luxurious tannins and exquisite fruit-forward aromatics.
Josh Widaman, Estate Winemaker at Pine Ridge Vineyards, thinks “this will be a vintage that showcases the full range of flavors that Napa Valley wines are so well known for, from zesty and vibrant to dense and powerful.”
As noted by winemaker Macario Montoya of Roots Run Deep Winery, "Each vintage tells a story that is unique and can never be replicated. We’ll remember 2022 as a vintage of craze and beauty. As the wines go to bed for the winter, we’re excited about their potential and the story they will continue to tell."
LEARN MORE ABOUT NAPA VALLEY’S 2022 VINTAGE
About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley's reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 45 years. Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 685 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses.
About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its nearly 550 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, provide environmental leadership and care for the extraordinary place they call home. Since 1981, the NVV has invested more than $225 million in its community to provide equitable access to health care and opportunity for advancement in children’s education. NVV is dedicated to improving diversity and championing inclusivity in its community and in the wine industry.
By Kenny Martin, Wine Spectator
On Aug. 27, nearly 600 wine aficionados flocked to Oakville's Renteria 360 Vineyard for the 15th annual Harvest Stomp auction, a night of live music and great food for a worthy cause. This year’s event raised $3.3 million, surpassing last year's total by $600,000. Harvest Stomp supports Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), which seeks to promote and preserve Napa vineyards, and the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, founded by NVG in 2011 to provide educational opportunities, English literacy programs and more for farmworkers.
The auction "celebrated the American and migrant farmers, caretakers of the land and all the families building a legacy for Napa Valley agriculture," according to its website. Harvest Stomp and its beneficiaries also advocate for change on issues such as climate resiliency, wildfire protection and sustainable agriculture.
"It was great to be with people who care so deeply about the Napa Valley and its farmworkers. The generosity shown in this 15th anniversary year of Stomp was unmatched," said auction co-chairs John and Michele Truchard, owners of JaM Cellars and FARM Napa Valley Vineyard Management, in a statement.
Napa industry groups are spending nearly $100,000 to get through wildfire season
By Jess Lander, SF Chronicle
As California enters the height of fire season, Napa wine and hospitality groups have joined forces in an effort to stop blazes from getting out of control.
With government resources spread thin and a wildfire prevention initiative failing to pass in Napa in June, private organizations are stepping in. Together, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners and Visit Napa Valley are spending $33,000 per month for around-the-clock monitoring of artificial intelligence-powered cameras that can detect a fire within seconds of starting.
But the collaboration is only a temporary solution. While it will hopefully help keep residents and businesses safe through the current fire season, the groups also want to send a clear message to Napa County to do more next year.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley Fund 24/7 Wildfire Detection Sensors
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley have joined together to fund three early detection wildfire sensors on Atlas Peak, Clover Flat, and Diamond Mountain with 24/7 monitoring to protect Napa County residents and businesses from wildfires. The three organizations have assumed financial responsibility for the service through the months of September, October, and November 2022: the peak of Napa County’s fire season, covering some of the County’s highest fire-risk areas.
The Illumination Technologies (ITC) state of the art “IQ FireWatch sensors” triangulate locations of potential fire threats, including identifying specific parcel numbers in Napa County. This program was initiated in 2021 by Napa County and was maintained through public funds. Continued funding was expected to come from the ¼ percent sales tax proposed in Napa County’s Measure L, which unfortunately did not pass. To fill the gap, local grape growers Caymus Vineyards, E. & J. Gallo Winery, and Circle R Ranch & Vineyards generously donated funds to keep the sensors active during the beginning of the 2022 fire season. When the service was set to discontinue on August 31, 2022, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley stepped up to ensure early detection services continue uninterrupted through the end of this fire season. This partnership is a model for community-based resiliency work in the face of increased fire and climate risks that have greatly affected the Napa Valley community over the last several years.
“When we realized the service was at risk of shutting down, these organizations sprang into action to ensure the sensors stayed on. Early detection is a valuable tool in the toolbox when it comes to protecting the entire community from the wildfires like we’ve experienced over the last several years. Now with the partnership between Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Visit Napa Valley, and Napa Valley Vintners, this program will continue to safeguard the Napa Valley community through fire season. We’re proud to carry this community-first, collaborative initiative forward,” said Tom Davies, president and part-owner of V.Sattui Winery, who sits on the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Board of Directors, is the FY23 Chair of Visit Napa Valley Board of Directors, and is a long-time member of the Napa Valley Vintners.
The three existing cameras currently cover 48% of Napa County in high-risk areas. As part of this initiative, Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Napa Valley Vintners, and Visit Napa Valley are committed to working with other industry and community partners during this fire season and onward to implement a long-term plan for maintaining ongoing early detection services and expanding coverage to more areas throughout the County.
To support funding for the wildfire detection sensors, please email Molly Moran Williams, NVG Industry and Community Relations Director, at email@example.com.