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Shortages, Changing of the Guard, New Technologies and Farmworker Programs Highlight Napa Valley Grapegrowers 2013 Spring Press Conference


Date: 03/25/13

Napa, CA (March 25, 2013) – Predicting a robust 2013 grape growing season, Napa Valley Grapegrowers also see a future shortage in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, according to the three grape growers featured at the annual Spring press conference held Friday, March 22 at a historic Yountville vineyard farmed by a fifth generation Napa Valley family. Additionally, grape growers are seeing: a changing of the guard, with vineyards increasingly managed by a younger generation; new technologies that enable proactive, sustainable farming decisions; and heightened interest in NVG’s farmworker foundation. To watch the press conference, please visit: 2013 NVG Spring Press Conference.

Press conference highlights:

The Grapes:
• Bud break is expected the week of March 25, about four days earlier than 2012, which may make this year’s harvest an early one
• Rain totals to date: 26-inches, which is the normal and about the same as 2013
• More Spring rain is predicted, along with a hot summer
• 45,800 acres planted in grapes, about 9% of the land in Napa county; 20,000 acres planted in Cabernet Sauvignon
• Approximately 15% of county in replant
• High demand for Cabernet Sauvignon in 2012 pushed prices up 8% over 2011
• Average price for one ton of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes is over $5,000; two times higher than any other reporting district and more than four times higher than the California state average
• Napa Valley produces only 4% of California’s winegrapes

Farmworkers:
• Since its inception three years ago, NVG has raised more than $365,000 for its Farmworker Foundation
• NVG educated over 2,300 farmworkers and supervisors in 2012 alone. Additional English language classes will be added in 2013 to meet demand; classes in equipment training, health, safety, management, leadership and finance are also offered
• Through the Foundation, the NVG and dedicated families such as the Moulds and the Trefethens will provide college-level scholarships to farmworkers striving to improve their opportunities
• Napa is the only county in California and the nation to have an assessment on all growers that built three farmworker centers providing lodging, meals, laundry, and recreational amenities
• 2013 Stomp, August 24, 5 p.m. at Trinchero Family Estate in Calistoga, is NVG’s annual fundraiser for the Farmworker Foundation
• The 2011 NVG Wages & Benefits Survey shows that 91% of vineyard supervisors and 69% of vineyard workers are offered medical insurance plans (compared to 52% nationwide in the private sector); 55% are offered 401k plans – an impressive number that speaks directly to the grape growers commitment to social equity; 66% of grapegrowers give annual pay raises
• Grape growing now requires a full time workforce and is no longer made up of migrant workers

Technology:
• Vineyard “technology” previously referred to vineyard mechanization; now it’s defined as integrated data management systems to, in real time, remotely monitor and control vineyards
• New technologies better safeguard and improve an expensive crop, provide economic and environmental sustainability
• Dramatically improved remote weather station capabilities:
o Measures temperatures at various altitudes, not just overall temperature
o Vines are now used as sensors
o Watches, analyzes and provokes action in regards to sap flow, pests and disease, soil moisture, frost and freeze, heat spikes, cluster temperature, solar radiation, irrigation and more
o 24/7 farming from a laptop, tablet or Smartphone
o Puts ‘boots on the ground’ in ‘just in time’ manner, rather than having crews driving from vineyard to vineyard monitoring and managing, often in the middle of the night

Changing of the guard, sheep in the vineyard and final notes:
• New crop of thirty-something grapegrowers now in charge, using the advice of the 1970s boom elders; bringing fresh vibrancy in Napa Valley
• Old ways can still be the best ways to farm sustainably – sheep are employed to mow the weeds from the vineyards; goats scour vineyard ditches for vines and weeds
• Boots on the ground – farmworkers are the industry’s most important ‘eyes and ears’ – the first to spot vineyard irregularities
• Cabernet Sauvignon is still King in Napa Valley

Press conference speakers included:
• Paul Goldberg – NVG Director, Bettinelli Vineyards
• Remi Cohen – NVG Director, Director of Winemaking & Viticulture, Cliff Lede Vineyards
• Amy Warnock – NVG Member; Viticulturist, Orin Swift

About 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 over 38 years. NVG represents over 620 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses. For more information, visit www.napagrowers.org.

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