Beautiful and alluring acres upon acres of vineyards along the valley floor and up to the mountains attract many to the Napa Valley to live, work, and visit, and while the tourist economy is going strong it has become increasingly challenging to live and work in the area, motivating many growers in the region to explore alternatives to traditional farming.
Of significant importance to growers is how best to plan for and incorporate sustainable alternatives to traditional agricultural burning in vineyard management. Health and climate change concerns are a crucial part of reevaluating and renovating outdated farming practices. There is clear motivation to implement innovative, community-based solutions to minimize effects on air quality from various sources including transportation, building energy use, wood burning stoves, agricultural practices and more. And after devastating wildfires that have rocked the region and a significantly dry year, growers have more reason to invest in alternatives to traditional agricultural burning.
What is WHIP+?
Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP+) program will provide $10 billion in critical relief to growers who suffered financial losses in 2020 and 2021 as a result of:
Eligibility and Application Details
Eligible producers include an individual or legal entity that assumes ownership share and risk of the crop, production, and market risk associated with the agricultural production of the eligible crops (including trees, bushes, and vines) that were verifiably grown/produced at the time of the disaster. The application is anticipated to open in the Spring of 2022.
What to do now to prepare for WHIP+ applications
Growers who are interested in applying when funding becomes available must first establish their farm records with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and complete a crop report before applying.
This can be done now by filling out the FSA form. Proof of farm ownership (i.e. with a deed of trust, or property tax coupon that shows the APN#) and a ranch map is required, and can be submitted via email to your local FSA office at FSA.Vacaville.CA@usda.gov.
Professional grant writing assistance at no cost to small producers!
As part of our recent California Underserved and Small Producers Program (CUSP) grant award, we are offering growers who fit the "small producer" criteria the ability to engage with a consulting firm to receive professional grant writing assistance when establishing farm records and applying for WHIP+ funding. If you are interested in utilizing these complimentary services to assist in your WHIP+ application, please contact Molly Williams at email@example.com at your earliest convenience.
All producers are encouraged to contact the Solano/Napa County FSA office for assistance with establishing records and applying for WHIP+.
Solano/Napa County FSA Office
810 Vaca Valley Pkwy Ste 102, Vacaville
P: (707) 448-0106 | F: (844) 206-0106
Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) Financial Assistance
The USDA has also announced this new financial assistance program for agricultural producers. Growers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit if you plant cover crops during the 2022 crop year.
Contact the Solano/Napa County FSA office via email or phone at (707) 448—0106 for assistance and more information.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) announces that bud break has begun in Napa Valley. “We’re seeing variable bud break in our chardonnay planted in the Carneros AVA,” said Brittany Pederson, Director of Viticulture for Renteria Vineyard Management, “Within the next week, we’ll begin seeing bud break throughout the valley.”
Pederson added that her water reserves were full in most locations, and while grape growers need rain, she feels good heading into the new season. “Because the soils are dry, we got a head start with floor management this year,” Pederson said, “For example, we’ve been able to mow and disk early, which helps prepare us for frost season.” By mowing and disking cover crop now, soils can hold the necessary heat to keep frost from damaging delicate buds, it also allows for air flow – both of which support a healthy growing season for Napa’s vineyards.
With sustainable practices top-of-mind, many grape growers are also welcoming sheep into their vineyards. As herds graze freely on hearty cover crop, their nutrient-rich manure provides a quick way for grape growers to feed their soils, and an excellent way to reduce the usage of mowers throughout the vineyard.
Napa Grape Growers, Vineyard Managers, Businesses Come Together to Donate 335 Warm Coats for Families in Need
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) kicked off the year collecting cold-weather clothing through their very first Winter Coat Drive.
Throughout January, Napa Valley grape growers, vineyard managers, and ag-based businesses donated high-quality, warm clothing – coats, scarves, socks, and gloves – digging deep into their closets to support community members in need. In total, 335 coats were donated for distribution through local community groups, like Puertas Abiertas, On the Move, and the Salvation Army.
“Whether it is a seminar on climate-smart vineyard practices with NVG or a summer mentor program for local high school students with the Farmworker Foundation – everything we do aims to support and strengthen the Napa Valley community for a brighter tomorrow,” said Jennifer Putnam, Executive Director and CEO of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, “To collect warm coats for families in need was an effective and meaningful way to support this winter – and NVG members contributed beyond any expectations!”
The Napa County Pruning Contest is almost of drinking age, having just celebrated its 20th year on Saturday at Beringer Vineyards’ Gamble Ranch.
Put on each year by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the pruning contest is a way for the organizations to recognize the valley’s talented vineyard crews.
This year’s winners came from Renteria Vineyard Management and Joseph Phelps Vineyards, with Erika López taking the women’s title and Casimiro Zaragoza for the men, respectively.
Those who came in second, third, and fourth also were awarded, with Atlas Vineyard Management’s Agustín Arias, St. Supery’s Hector Rodríguez, and Walsh Vineyards Management’s Lorenzo Hernández Aquino winning in the men’s category. Verónica Medina Reyes from Bayview — who won first place in the 2019 competition, Ana Mejia from Trefethen, and Rosa Martínez from Bettinelli Vineyards were honored in the women’s contest.
By Kristen Bieler
In the fall of 2020, the grapes in Alison Sokol Blosser's vineyards were ripe—and she had no one to pick them.
Pandemic-related travel restrictions meant that none of her international harvest interns had arrived, and the local labor pool in Oregon's Yamhill County, where the winery is located, was essentially nonexistent. "We had to get the grapes off, so I pulled my kids out of school and my nephews and my parents—who hadn't picked grapes in 30 years—all worked in the vineyard."
Grappling with a similar labor shortage in 2021, Sokol Blosser, like so many desperate vintners across the U.S., turned to farm labor contractors for hiring needs, which drove up seasonal costs exponentially. "We need solutions; the labor crisis is not going away," she told Wine Spectator.
There is so much going on in our personal and professional lives right now. We want to make it easy for you to get a quick digest of what the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) are doing for you this winter.
How NVG is Working for Members This Winter:
How FWF is Working to Support Farmworkers This Winter:
Take these steps to keep up with the latest requirements and recommendations to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace.
Review the latest Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), effective January 14, including new testing, exclusion, and face covering requirements. For Spanish resources and information on updates and revisions, visit the Cal/OSHA website.
Register for NVG's upcoming webinar: COVID-19 Updates for Employers with Erica Rosasco, Partner at McKague Rosasco LLP. Topics include Cal/OSHA's ETS, what to do when an employee tests positive, sick leave, return to work, testing, and vaccine policies, and more.
Order free rapid tests through USPS! Every household in the U.S. is now eligible to order 4 free at-home rapid tests. For more information and FAQs visit the covidtests.gov.
Work with supervisors and foremen to ensure general COVID-19 safety protocols:
Encourage booster shots for all employees! Our partners at St. Helena Hospital Foundation continue to provide vaccine clinics. No appointments are necessary.
By Sam Jones
Grape growers in Napa County are constantly looking for innovative ways to decrease waste while increasing productivity in their vineyards, but not all of these methods are high-tech or brand-new. For many, the act of accumulating, turning and spreading compost is a basic but key part of their vineyard management strategy, and has been practiced since ancient civilizations first prioritized agriculture.
“Composting has always been considered key to better farming and is a key practice employed in Napa Valley vineyards,” said Michael Silacci, winemaker for Opus One and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. “When composting is done properly using good management techniques and temperature monitoring, the result is a fine source of nutrients for plants and it has a positive impact on preventing soil erosion by rebuilding soil structure and supporting plant growth.”
By increasing microbial activity in these waste materials – think oak leaves, grape stems, manure – pulled from their property, vintners are able to not only benefit soil health, but also keep as much of its waste on-site as possible.
Cal/OSHA has Readopted COVID-19 Emergency Standards Through mid-April 2022
The Cal/OSHA Standards Board voted to readopt the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) through mid-April 2022. The Standards Board readopted the ETS with changes, including requirements to test, mask, and socially distance non-symptomatic vaccinated workers who had a COVID-19 close contact. To learn more about the ETS, visit their FAQs.
Get Your Booster this Holiday Season
Now is an important time to get your teams boosted for the holidays and winter travel. NVG and the Farmworker Foundation have worked with our partners at St. Helena Hospital Foundation (SHHF) to ensure ag workers can easily access COVID-19 booster shots. SHHF is holding regular clinics at Napa Valley College Upvalley Campus, as well as other locations throughout the County. No appointments are necessary for the clinics and whole teams can receive their shots at the same time.
For the upcoming clinic schedule, visit the SHHF website
For more information about the clinics, employers may contact Noemi Mauricio at (707) 815-2544 or MauricNA@ah.org or for general questions, Molly Moran Williams at (707) 944-8311 x 118 or MWilliams@napagrowers.org.
Individuals may also make booster appointments at local pharmacy locations such as Safeway, CVS Pharmacy and Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy.
To view more COVID-19 resources for NVG members in English and Spanish, visit NVG’s website.