Grape & Wine Magazine - July 2023

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Regulatory and Legislative Updates Affecting Vineyards and Wineries Federal Definition Sought for Biostimulant Products in Agriculture A Taste of Something More Volume 1: Issue 4 July 2023
© 2023 Heritage Crop Science, LLC Blush 2x is a registered trademark of Fine Americas, Inc. Contact Ben Letizia @ 559-284-1392 for more information Untreated Control Blush 2x Treated Revolutionary Grape Color Enhancement S-aba product over coloring and berry degredation at harvest


PUBLISHER: Jason Scott


EDITOR: Taylor Chalstrom



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Surendra Dara Director, North Willamette Research and Extension Center

Kevin Day UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Tulare and Kings Counties

Elizabeth Fichtner UCCE Farm Advisor, Kings and Tulare Counties

Katherine Jarvis-Shean UCCE Orchard Systems Advisor, Sacramento, Solano and Yolo Counties

Jhalendra Rijal UCCE Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Stanislaus County

Mohammad Yaghmour UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Kern County

The articles, research, industry updates, company profiles, and advertisements in this publication are the professional opinions of writers and advertisers. Progressive Crop Consultant does not assume any responsibility for the opinions given in the publication.

Steven Koike Tri-Cal Diagnostics COOPERATIVE EXTENSION ADVISORY BOARD Vicky Boyd Contributing Writer Catherine Merlo Contributing Writer Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor Rebecca Scott Attorney; Realtor, London Properties; Majority Partner, JWAGronomics, LLC Pam Strayer Contributing Writer Justin Tanner Ph.D., UCCE Viticulture Farm Advisor, San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties
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Now that the “Dog Days” of summer have arrived, it is time to plan for harvest and transporting your winegrapes to the winery. When 2023 began, all farmers welcomed the relentless storms and record amounts of rain and snow. But, as the year progressed, so did the storms right through spring and into early summer. Now Mother Nature is turning up the heat to help ripen the grapes. This means one thing – harvest is on the horizon.

Outlook for 2023 Harvest

The industry experts seem to agree that the expected tonnage will translate to “an average year, higher than 2022.” Early forecasts range from estimates of 3.7 - 3.8 million tons of California winegrapes will be harvested this season. The start of harvest is expected to be delayed by as much as two weeks compared to recent years. This later start is due to the heavy rain during the winter months followed by cooler weather and continued rain this spring. The result is the weather impacted the vine’s growth, bud break, and bloom throughout the state.

Looking ahead, the only thing certain about the future is continued uncertainty. There remain a number of threats to a smooth harvest including potential heat waves, securing adequate labor to harvest the winegrapes and the timing of the harvest for all varieties. Timing not only includes when it will begin but will the weather cause all varieties to ripen at the same time creating havoc for all involved in picking and delivering the grapes to the wineries.

Start with a Plan

Given all that you have to do during the growing year, this is a lot to follow. So, to help you plan for the 2023 harvest, the G3 Ag Transportation Team has developed a list of critical factors every winegrape grower needs to consider:

• Complete your plan for harvest now

• Pre-plan and identify all your logistical needs

• Utilize all available technology to increase your efficiencies

• Add expertise to your team

With more than 40 years of experience transporting raw and finished agricultural products, the G3 Ag Transportation Team understands the priorities of growers at harvest and looks to partner with its grower and customers to tailor a specific plan to move their grapes in the most efficient, timely manner possible. As one would expect, the Ag Transportation Team has deep experience in

4 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
1/2 ton Macro bins on flatbed in Central Valley Vineyard

the agriculuture and logisitcs industries given that they are part of G3 Enterprises, a family-owned industry leader in packaging, logistics, real estate, and minerals solutions.

The G3 Ag Transportation Team has been busy this past winter and spring planning for the coming harvest. They have always been committed to constantly improving its offerings for its customers. While the available labor supply continues to be a concern, it is important to note that G3 does not anticipate a driver shortage in 2023. In fact, G3 has long-term relationships with multiple carriers which enables them to conduct integrated harvest planning together. This directly benefits the grower and customers as the G3 Ag Transportation Team stays flexible, agile, and ready to react immediately to a changing situation.

Practice Makes Perfect

The G3 Ag Transportation Team relies on months of preplanning, training, upgrades, and plotting to ensure a smooth, efficient harvest season. They are already working with their current growers and customers to obtain their harvest estimates so they can forecast when and where trucks will be needed. Well before harvest begins, the G3 Ag Transportation Team plans every step of the harvest, so everyone is prepared to execute when it is time to pick the grapes. The hauling company also conducts harvest training with its carriers, refines its approach to managing the logistical hubs, and updates its technology and systems. All of this ensures that the G3 trailers are ready whenever you need them.

24/7 Harvest Operation

The G3 Ag Transportation Team works from five local hubs strategically located in the North Coast, Central Coast, Lodi, Livingston, and Fresno. The company takes great pride in developing and refining solutions to a set of challenges. These solutions include:

• An extensive trailer drop program that reduces tractor idle time by more than 90%

• Use IoT sensors on trailers and tractors to provide real-name location visibility to optimize logistics

• Replacing all its older diesel engines with new higher efficiency, lower emission engines

• Utilizing an asset transportation management system to maximize backhauls and reduce empty miles

• Inspecting all its Ag Hauling transportation equipment every 90 days to ensure that every piece of equipment is ready to move when called

upon, for any harvest and at any time

• Making extensive use of local and regional carriers to minimize the repositioning of empty miles

These transportation solutions are designed to drive efficiencies at harvest. They are also a major reason why the G3 Ag Transportation Team was able to transport more than 1,000 loads on 26 days during last year’s harvest of which 24 of those 26 days were consecutive.

Additional offerings G3 has made available to improve winegrape harvest efficiencies include:

• The availability of macro bins and gondolas in multiple sizes ranging from 6 tons, 2 tons, and ½ tons which are popular among small lot wineries in the North Coast

• G3’s shuttle drop program keeps drivers moving between vineyards and wineries so they can head

July 2023 5
Vineyard worker driving tractor with 1/2 ton macro bins in Napa Valley

back to get the next load instead of waiting in long lines at the winery

The Importance of Technology

As with all things in life, the latest technology is critical. The G3 Ag Transportation Team utilizes the best technology to map out vineyards to provide turn-by-turn directions, identify points of entry and exit, and locate the best spots to position trailers. All this data is easily accessible to every driver making their hauls mistake-free. Each of G3’s trailers is equipped with the latest GPS system which is solar-powered. Every load can be tracked in real time and growers and customers are notified of the status of their winegrapes. In the near future, G3’s growers and customers will be able to access a portal to track the location of their winegrapes

on their own in real-time.

Winegrapes, Almonds, Pistachios, Olive, and Beyond

Throughout the year, the G3 Ag Transportation Team moves more than just winegrapes. With its large fleet of trailers, the Ag Transportation Team also moves walnuts, pistachios, almonds, olives, tomatoes, and more. No matter where your vineyards, field, or orchards are located, the G3 Ag Transportation Team has formed a dedicated sales team that is available 24/7 to help you.

With its experience in agricultural logistics, and as the largest hauler of wine grapes in California, G3's Ag Transportation Team has the experience in logistics and agriculture that you need. Now is the time to secure your hauler and

protect your business from the unknown. The G3 Ag Transportation Team can provide the expertise, experience, and leadership you need to ensure you are ready this harvest season with a sound plan. You can contact the G3 Ag Transportation Team to learn more about their hauling capabilities, so your harvest goes at smoothly as possible.

Contact them to get your own customized transportation solution at /logistics/transportation/ag

We’re large enough to serve and small enough to

Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email at

6 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023 G3 Enterprises knows how to move your product with efficiency and care. We are ag hauling experts with equipment and capacity to haul year-round from field to processor, to packer and on as finished goods. Let’s put G3 InG3nuity to work for you — Visit G3 HAS BEEN HAULING CALIFORNIA’S HARVEST FOR OVER 40 YEARS.
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8:00 AM Neighborly NOW Program: Getting Connected with Mating Disruption Users

8:30 AM

Pesticide Roadmap Panel: What Does the Future of Pesticide Use Look Like for California?


Thursday, September 28


Plant Biostimulant Act Renintroduction

DPR TRACK Hydrogel Bait for Sugar-Feeding Ants in Vineyards

CCA TRACK Groundwater Recharge On-Farm vs Large-Scale Infrastructure

Preparing for Disease in Future Cool, Wet Years

Citrus Red Scale: Research Updates, How This Year's Weather Affected Insect Generations

Capturing Runoff with Product Technology

Advancements in Seed Treatment Technology

Presentation of WRCCA’s CCA of the Year award, Scholarships and Honorariums

1:00 PM Industry Talk 1:30 PM

Beat Leafhopper Management in Processing Tomatoes

2:00 PM

Personal Protective Equipment Required by Labels for Employees and Owners


July 2023 7
REGISTER NOW Early-bird Pricing Ends on July 31, 2023!
9:00 AM 9:30 AM Industry talk 10:00 AM TRADESHOW & BREAK 11:00 AM 11:30 AM 12:00
September 27th - 28th
7:00 AM
Biostimulant Panel:
AM Industry Talk 10:00 AM TRADESHOW & BREAK 11:00 AM Industry Talk 11:30 AM Biopesticides: Where Industry Stands 12:00 PM LUNCH Special Guest Entertainment 1:30 PM 2:00 PM 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 3:30 PM TRADESHOW & BREAK 4:30 PM 5:00 PM MIXER DPR TRACK Tackling Pesticide Resistance of Spotted Wing Drosophila Overview of SensorControlled Sprayers and Sprayer Types Soilborne Diseases in Vegetable and Tomato Row Crops The Roll of Mating Disruption in Vineyard Pest Management Bringing Fresh Perspectives to Combat Lettuce Disease CCA TRACK Regenerative Almond Management Almond Soil Health Nutrition and Soil Health Panel Continued Mulching in Citrus and Other Specialty Crops Wednesday, September 27 Under $9 per CEU Early access to Online CEU 44+ Total CEU Hours Entertainment Get all your CEU for the year at the Crop Consultant Conference! Live Conference Tradeshow with 70+ Exhibits First class dining and Mixer Total CEU pending final DPR and CCA approvals. $225 FOR ONLY EARLY-BIRD PRICING GET EARLY ACCESS TO ONLINE CEU

Regulatory and Legislative Updates Affecting Vineyards and Wineries

CA Business & Professions Code.

SB 793 – Alcoholic Beverages & Music Venue Licenses

– Effective 1/1/2023

Please note the following is not an exhaustive list of all relevant laws. For example, updates to COVID-19-related restrictions are not addressed, nor is any Federal law. In addition, the overview provided here does not include every aspect of each bill. This is intended as a highlight to red flag potential issues. For any area of concern, you are encouraged to reach out to local legal counsel.

SB 19 – Allowing 2nd Licensed Branch Premises for Tastings & Retail Sales – Effective 1/1/2022

The former law prohibited a winegrower or brandy manufacturer from selling wine or brandy to consumers, or engaging in winetasting activities, at more than one licensed branch premise. This bill revises the prohibition to allow a winegrower or brandy manufacturer to sell wine or brandy to consumers, or to engage in winetasting activities, at up to TWO licensed branch premises.

CA Business & Professions Code.

AB 239 – Consumer Provided Containers – Effective


Under prior law, a winery could not, at its Duplicate Type 02 premises, sell or deliver wine to consumers in containers supplied, furnished, or sold by the

consumer. AB 239 amends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act to allow consumers to provide their own bottles and containers to be filled at a Duplicate Type 02 tasting room premises.

CA Business & Professions Code.

AB 1267 – Advertising Charitable Donations with Sale of Alcohol

– Effective 1/1/2022

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits a licensee from giving a premium, gift or free goods in connection with the sale and distribution of any alcoholic beverage, except as provided. The bill authorizes a winegrower, a beer manufacturer, a distilled spirits manufacturer, a craft distiller, a brandy manufacturer, a rectifier or a wine rectifier to donate a portion of the purchase price of an alcoholic beverage to a nonprofit charitable organization in connection with the sale or distribution of an alcohol beverage, subject to certain limitations.

Promotion or advertisement of the donation shall not directly encourage or reference the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

This carved out exception sunsets on Jan. 1, 2025.

This bill establishes a “music venue license,” to be issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to a music entertainment facility that may be open to all ages. The license will allow alcoholic beverage service to adults only, including beer, wine, and distilled spirits. The license allows consumption on the premises during the time period from two hours before a live performance at the venue until one hour after the live performance.

CA Business & Professions Code.

SB 1370 – Alcoholic Beverage Licenses – Specific to Nonprofit Radio Broadcasting Companies

– Effective 1/1/2023

This bill makes nonprofit radio broadcasting companies eligible for a type 64 license, subject to the same licensing fees as nonprofit theater companies. Similar to nonprofit theater companies, a nonprofit radio broadcasting company is not considered a public premises and may sell alcoholic beverages to ticketholders only from two hours before until one hour after a bona fide performance, and the license is only for a single specified premises.

CA Business & Professions Code.

SB 3 (2016) Minimum Wage Increase

– Incrementally Effective 1/1/2023

Due to the incremental enactment of SB 3(2016), the California minimum wage increased to $15.50 per hour, effective Jan. 1, 2023 for all employers.

This hourly wage increase adds businesses with 25 or fewer workers to the

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existing requirements for employers with more than 25 workers.

CA Labor Code.

SB 1162 – Pay Data Reporting & Transparency – Effective 1/1/2023

Re Any employer with 100 or more employees/100 or more labor contract employees. Employers must submit pay data reports to the CA Civil Rights Department within the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency on or before the second Wednesday of May 2023, and for each year thereafter on or before the second Wednesday of May. A separate report is required for each individual location.

The Bill requires the pay data reports to include the median and mean hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity and sex within each job category. This Bill deletes the provision authorizing an employer to submit an EEO-1 in lieu of a pay data report. The Bill also includes job posting transparency requirements for pay ranges and contains civil penalties for failure to comply.

CA Government Code; CA Labor Code.

AB 1041 – Family Leave – California Family Rights Act– Effective 1/1/2023

For employers of five or more employees, this Bill expands the class of people for whom an employee may take leave to care for to include a designated person, not necessarily related by blood, but by the equivalent of a family relationship. The bill would authorize an employer to limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period.

The Bill also expands the definition of the term “family member” to include a designated person, which, for purposes of these provisions, would mean a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests paid sick days, subject to limitation by the employer, as prescribed.

CA Government Code; CA Labor Code.

AB 1949 – Bereavement Leave – California Family Rights Act - Effective


This Bill makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by an eligible employee to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member, as defined. The bill would require that leave be completed within three months of the date of death. The bill would require that leave be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer. Under the bill, in the absence of an existing policy, bereavement leave may be unpaid.

For purposes of this Bill, “Employee” means a person employed by the employer for at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the leave and does not include civil service.

CA Government Code.

of employment and other employment conditions, and authorizes employees to elect exclusive bargaining representatives for these purposes.

This Bill refers to the election by secret ballot process as a polling place election. The bill establishes alternative procedures to the polling place election and authorize a labor organization to be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of a bargaining unit through either a labor peace election or a non-labor peace election, as prescribed, dependent on whether an employer enrolls and agrees to a labor peace election for labor organization representation campaigns. The Bill establishes a schedule for agricultural employers to indicate to the board whether they agree to a labor peace compact.

This bill prescribes civil penalties to be imposed upon an agricultural employer who commits an unfair labor practice.

AB 1066(2016)

– Overtime Pay for Agriculture Workers –Incrementally

Effective 1/1/2023

In 2016, Assembly Bill 1066 created a timetable for agricultural workers to receive overtime pay so they will gradually receive overtime pay on the same basis as workers in most other industries (after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.)

Starting Jan. 1, 2023, employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay agriculture workers overtime after 9 hours per day or 50 hours per week. Large employers with 26 or more employees since January 1, 2022, must pay agriculture workers overtime after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.

Additional increments go into effect 1/1/2024 and 1/1/2025.

CA Labor Code.

CA Labor Code.

SB 1013 – Beverage Container Recycling - Effective 1/1/2024


2183 – Labor Peace Contracts for Ag Employees – Effective


Existing law grants agricultural employees the right to form and join labor organizations and engage in collective bargaining with respect to wages, terms

This bill amends the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (Bottle Bill). This bill requires a wine direct shipper permitholder, before sending any shipment to a resident of California, to register with the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery as a beverage manufacturer and distributor under the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act. The act requires a distributor to pay a redemption payment for every beverage container sold or offered for sale in the state to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery and requires the department to deposit those amounts in the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund. This amendment revises the definition of beverage to include distilled spirits and wine or wine from which alcohol has been removed in whole or in part, whether sparkling or carbonated.

July 2023 9 ContinuedonPage10

Wine direct shipper permitholders are required to register with CalRecycle as a beverage manufacturer and to comply with the Bottle Bill, including the reporting and payment provisions applicable to the permitholder as a beverage manufacturer and distributor. Failure to comply may result in suspension or revocation of the shipper permit.

A violation of the act is a crime.

Additional labeling requirements go into effect in 2025.

CA Business & Professions Code; CA Public Resources Code.

Micro-Winery Ordinance

Specific to Napa County

Only – Effective 5/5/2022

The Ordinance streamlines the use permit application process to allow family farm winegrape growers to produce and sell wine at their farms. The application is processed by the zoning administrator, rather than going through the more formal process with the planning commission.

This process is only available to micro-wineries fermenting on-site at least 201 gallons of wine annually but having a capacity for no more than 5,000 gallons annually. Subject wineries must be on parcels of at least 10 acres, and within the Ag Preserve and the Ag Watershed zones. Facilities must be no more than 5,000 square feet, including storage, processing facilities, tasting areas and caves. At least 75% of the grapes used in fermentation on-site are grown on the same property as the micro-winery or contiguous parcels under the same ownership. No more than 20 Average Daily Trips are generated by visitors, employees or deliveries. Tours, tastings and retail sales may be conducted on-site, but only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Once micro-winery use permit is approved, no additional or expanded permit will be considered for a two-year period post-approval.

The Ordinance sunsets in May 2025, at which time Napa County will re-evaluate the process.

Napa County Code of Ordinances


Botting, M., “California Tied-House Laws.” https://www.californiacraftbeer. com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ABCTied-House-Law.pdf

Corrigan, J. “7 California Employment Law Changes in 2023.” January 3, 2023.

Gardner, D., Bollag, S., “Here are 13 new laws Californians must start following in 2023.” December 5, 2022. https:// new-california-laws-2023-17626931.php

Auerbach Allderdice, L., Haney, J.H., Hill, T.E., Polk, L.N., Stone, S.J, Tellado, T, Vu, M.T., Sahachartsiri, B., “New California Labor & Employment Laws for 2023.” December 29, 2022. Holland

& Knight Alert. https://www.hklaw. com/en/insights/publications/2022/12/ new-california-labor-and-employment-laws-for-2023

McGuire Woods. “New California Employment Laws Take Effect in 2023.” January 4, 2023. https://www. Alerts/2023/1/new-california-employment-laws-take-effect-in-2023

Neish, S., “New Napa Law Gives Micro-Wineries a Fighting Chance.” June 29, 2022.

Tilley-Coulson, E., “California Leave Law Updates.” February 2023. newsandevents/publications/2023/02/ california-leave-law-updates2023#:~:text=The%20second%20new%20 law%2C%20also,months%20of%20a%20 qualifying%20death

Trindad, J., Hobel, B., Mercurio, M., “New Laws Expand Winery Off-Site Tasting Room Privileges and Manufacturer Charitable Donation Advertising.” September 24, 2021. https:// new-laws-expand-winery-off-site-tasting-room-privileges-and-manufacturer-charitable-donation-advertising/

Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at

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Despite regulatory uncertainty, biostimulant product use in California vineyards is increasing, UCCE Viticulture Advisor Joy Hollingsworth confirms, but growers should be aware of product limitations and carefully read labels.

Match the product with what you want to achieve, said Hollingsworth.

She notes biostimulant products are not intended to be fertilizers though they may contain some nutrient compounds.

Hollingsworth said some biostimulant products could be viewed as an ‘assist’ to fertilizer. The products may contain 1% to 2% nitrogen but are not meant to be a replacement for fertilizer.

Biostimulants are biological products that are applied to plants or soil to achieve improved plant growth. Depending on the type of biostimulant, the products are intended to reduce plant stress or aid in nutrient uptake with increased soil microbe activity. Other claims of benefits achieved with biostimulant use, including carbon sequestration and improving water quality, would depend on timing of application, soil type or other environmental conditions.

As defined in the 2018 Farm Bill, “Bio-

stimulants are a substance or microorganism that, when applied to seeds, plants or the rhizosphere, stimulate the natural processes to enhance or benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress or crop quality and yield.”

In 2019, an EPA report defined biostimulants in a similar way, but the definition also refers to soil health improvement as a potential benefit rather than crop quality or yield.

That left the products in a recognized but uncertain regulatory state, Keith Jones, executive director of Biological Products Industry Alliance, said. Without a federal definition, he said, they cannot be regulated or sold in the U.S.

Standardize Rules

In March 2023, a bill to standardize rules for plant biostimulants and promote research was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Plant Biostimulant Act would create a uniform process for approving commercial plant biostimulant use as an alternative to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers according to U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Mike Braun who introduced the bill.

They claim the use of plant biostimulant technologies has shown promise in sustainability management practices such as carbon sequestration and water quality

improvement. According to USDA and U.S. EPA, the plant biostimulant industry is expected to become a $5 billion global market by 2025, but the path to market for products in the U.S. remains inconsistent. The bill would implement a uniform federal definition and federal guidance from EPA and USDA. The senators noted the lack of standard regulatory definition makes accessing this technology difficult for the agriculture industry.

The act would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to establish a consistent national definition for the new agricultural product category of “plant biostimulant” and specifically exclude such products, which are not pesticides, from FIFRA regulation.

The goal of the recently introduced legislation to research and standardize rules for plant biostimulants is not about regulation; it is making the products available for use in crop production, Jones said.

“This bill, and a model bill that states can adopt, is a legitimate pathway to the market for these products,” Jones said.

The model bill, expected as early as 2024, is being written by American Association of Plant Food Control and can be adopted by individual states to allow sale of biostimulant products. Jones said presently

12 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Biostimulant product use in California vineyards is increasing, according to UCCE Viticulture Advisor Joy Hollingsworth (photo by C. Parsons.)

in California, a biostimulant product can be modified with nutrient compounds to be registered for use in California as a ‘soil amendment.’ Microbial biostimulants can also be modified to have some pesticidal effect to be registered for use in crop production.

Biostimulant products for crop production generally fall into three categories: acids, including fulvic or humic; microbials, which can be fungi or rhizobium; and extracts or secondary metabolites like polyphenols or botanicals. In addition, there are other types of biostimulant products which do not fit in those three categories. Acid-based products can be applied as a foliar through irrigation systems or directly on the soil. Microbial products may need an incubation period prior to use. Extracts can also be foliar applications through irrigation or soil applied. They have been found to improve soil conditions for roots.

In grape production, most biostimulant product research has been aimed at foliar applications which have the potential for reacting more rapidly with the plant biological processes than if applied to the soil. Foliar-applied biostimulants that have shown benefits in grapes include chitosan, which improved postharvest grey mold infections as well as fungicides. There have also been studies showing improved anthocyanin concentrations in grapes with foliar seaweed applications. Biostimulant product research is ongoing, demonstrating increased interest in their use for plant and soil health.

Growers who use these products in vineyards should look carefully at the label to make sure it can do what is intended. For example, a biostimulant product that claims to improve water holding capacity will not provide much of a benefit in clay soils. Hollingsworth also noted that while more growers are using biostimulant products in vineyards, they should be aware that improvements in growth, grape quality or other benefits may not become apparent during the current growing seasons. In addition, biostimulant products are not intended to prevent pest damage or kill pests. They are also not intended to enhance natural growth behavior of the plant beyond what

could be realized under optimal growing conditions.

Barriers to adoption of biostimulant use, according to The Fertilizer Institute, include lack of a clear and consistent definition, confusion about plant nutrient classification and lack of uniform regulatory framework which inhibits research.

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While more growers are using biostimulant products in vineyards, they should be aware that improvements in growth, grape quality or other benefits may not become apparent during the current growing seasons (photo courtesy Lodi Winegrowers Workbook 2nd Edition).

July 2023 13
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A Taste of Something More

The pandemic forced changes in wine tasting rooms. Now, vintners and visitors are embracing them.

Chad Melville wasn’t happy when pandemic restrictions forced his family’s winery in Santa Barbara County to change the way it conducted wine tastings for visitors.

Like businesses everywhere, Melville Winery shut down its public-facing operation in March 2020. Two months later, it was one of the first wineries in California to re-open its tasting business. But instead of welcoming walk-in visitors into its beautiful, Mediterranean-style headquarters near Lompoc, Melville Winery had to limit its tastings to by-appointment only.

Moreover, the scheduled guests couldn’t sit indoors or stand together at the interior L-shaped bar where they might be more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Due to social distancing requirements, they had to be seated outdoors in small groups. In the pandemic’s early days, as wine-country tourism slumped, Melville worried.

As the months unfolded, however, he was surprised to discover his visitors were enjoying the new tasting model. The seating on the grass patio gave guests a panoramic view of sky and nearby hills,

and they could practically touch the family’s 120 acres of estate vineyards, located in the Santa Rita Hills appellation, whose grapes produced the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays they were sampling.

Tastings became slower, more in-depth and one-on-one with Melville and his small tasting team. Guests could learn more about the winery’s hand-crafted, organically grown wines. Visits now stretched to 90 minutes, more than twice as long as pre-pandemic walk-in stops.

“COVID forced us to change, but we quickly learned how beneficial the new tasting model was,” said Melville, head winegrower for the family-owned vineyards and winery. “We have a better connection with customers that we didn’t before. That’s huge.”

Wine Tasting Evolves

Wineries across California have made the same discovery. As the pandemic moves into the rear-view mirror, vintners in the nation’s top wine-producing state are adjusting to what they’ve learned about consumer preferences over the past three years. Many wineries have kept the by-appointment-only tastings that emerged during COVID-19 controls. Some have

14 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
The tasting experience is fundamental to a winery’s financial well-being, says AJ Fairbanks of Crown Point Vineyards (photo courtesy Crown Point Vineyards.) Chad Melville, here at his family’s winery in Santa Barbara County, has learned from pandemic-led changes (photo courtesy Melville Winery.) Misty Cain of Cakebread Cellars says the Napa Valley winery will evolve its virtual wine tastings, which emerged during the pandemic (photo courtesy Cakebread Cellars.)

evolved to a hybrid of scheduled and walk-in visits.

At the same time, winemakers are focusing on providing a more specialized experience for discerning wine consumers. Where visitors once stopped in wine country to taste and purchase wine, today’s wine tourists are looking for something more, Rob McMillan noted in the “State of the U.S. Wine Industry 2023” report from Silicon Valley Bank (the bank has since been acquired by First Citizens Bank.)

They’re often staying in nearby lodging, then making only a couple of stops a day at wineries, added McMillan. In turn, wineries are sitting down with their guests for longer, more personalized presentations.

“Tasting has become more high touch,” agreed Chris Taranto, communications director with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “There’s more time to taste and build a relationship with the winery to learn about its brand and story.

“Wineries like appointment-only tastings,” he added. “Each guest is given attention, and that gives a good experience. And it helps lock in more sales and potential wine-club membership.”

The consumer’s onsite experience is vital to wineries. The average winery today receives more than 30% of its total revenue from tasting room sales, said McMillan.

Direct Access, Deeper Experience

The direct-to-consumer, or DTC, tasting model is especially important to small wineries like Crown Point Vineyards in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. The winery produces wines for the super-luxury category, where wine sells for $100 to $200 a bottle. Known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Crown Point produces 2,500 cases of wine each year. That’s considerably smaller than the 5,000-case average among U.S. bonded wineries.

“The tasting experience and engaging with the winery team is still the most important fundamental to the financial

well-being of a winery,” said AJ Fairbanks, estate director for Crown Point Vineyards. “Sixty percent of our revenue derives from the DTC model.”

Since its founding in 2013, Crown Point has only offered by-appointment tasting experiences. The extended time visitors spend with Crown Point’s team is a key opportunity to sell its limited production.

“By-appointment experiences typically outperform walk-ins in terms of customer satisfaction, sales efficiency and member recruitment,” said Fairbanks.

Scheduled tastings make it easier to manage the staff schedule, which helps with employee fulfillment and retention, he said. The winery can thoroughly collect customers’ data before they arrive. It can then slightly personalize the experience to enhance the tasting execution.

The more specialized, intimate tasting experience is “working out extremely well for us,” Fairbanks said. “We saw a 21% increase in traffic from 2021 to 2022.”

Moving Outdoors

At Tablas Creek Vineyard, outside of Paso Robles, pandemic-forced adjustments are now standard in the tasting room.

“The biggest change is that all tastings are now seated flights,” said Jason Haas, general manager, partner and proprietor. “And before, we didn’t do tastings outside.”

Like other businesses, Tablas Creek closed for three months in the spring of

2020. The winery reopened its tasting operation in June of that year with newly set up tasting bars, tables, chairs and umbrellas, all outside. It offered no indoor pourings for over a year.

When the winery was allowed to re-open its indoor tasting room in June 2021, “we decided to replicate the outside experience to inside,” Haas said.

During that year of forced outdoor tasting, he and his team had learned that packing people into an inside tasting room, as was typical before the pandemic, hadn’t been all that visitor friendly.

“We hadn’t been taking care of them as much as we thought because we were too busy,” he said. “If people come to a winery, they want more than just a glass of wine; they want the story.”

Tablas Creek’s decision to spend more time with guests comes even as the pandemic’s disruptions are still being felt across the wine-tasting sector. In 2022, Tablas Creek welcomed 28,000 guests, 3,000 less than in 2019. It’s not alone in lower tasting room numbers; most wineries still aren’t back to pre-pandemic levels.

Another reason Tablas Creek sees fewer guests is that it has lowered its tasting accommodation to just 175 visitors per day. It now spaces out its reservations two hours apart. Guests have their own space at either indoor or outdoor tables.

July 2023 15
Appointment-only wine tastings have largely replaced visitor walk-ins (photo courtesy Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance.)


“We have found they enjoy it more,” said Haas. “They buy more wine and are more likely to sign up for one of our wine clubs.”

All that impacts the bottom line at Tablas Creek. One-fourth of its total volume of wine sold and 35% of its total revenue come from wine bought during onsite visits. Even more important, 80% of its wine club signups happen in the tasting room.

“The tasting room is critical to us,” Haas said. “It’s where we touch the most people. If they leave with a great experience, they’re more likely to buy our wine.”

A Future with More DTC Experiences

Going forward, Napa Valley-based Cakebread Cellars is “looking at more creative ways” to expand its tasting reach, said Misty Roudebush Cain, vice president of direct-to-consumer and hospitality for the winery.

At its main location in Rutherford, for example, Cakebread Cellars has introduced a “library tasting experience” to celebrate its 50th anniversary during 2023. This includes a curated selection of red and white wines from the family’s vault of past vintages as well as current releases, paired with culinary bites.

In addition, Cakebread Cellars has launched a cabernet sauvignon tasting experience “for those serious about the varietal,” Cain said. The winery has also re-introduced a family tasting offering “to help make planning a little easier for those traveling to wine country with children,” she added.

The family-owned vintner has also joined with other Napa Valley wineries in Collective Napa Valley, a philanthropic endeavor that brings people together to enjoy the region’s wines while raising funds for the community.

“If visitor-ship trends do not fully return to pre-pandemic levels, we may see more on-the-road activations or marketing event participations,” noted Cain. “We may also see tasting experiences or tasting room openings in other locations.”

For Cakebread, that’s led to establishing a new tasting room, Mullan Road Cellars, in Woodinville, Washington. The wine project focuses on Bordeaux varieties and is slated to open its doors to tasting guests in late summer 2023.

Crown Point’s Fairbanks believes wineries of all sizes will continue to invest more money into their DTC experiences, whether by tasting room enhancements, digital outreach or direct-from-the-winery website purchases. Direct access to the proprietor or winemaker “will always resonate with consumers,” he said.

At Melville Winery, the biggest push in the tasting room will come from elevating visitor hospitality, with more employee training to achieve that. These days, Chad Melville said, too many consumers feel they’re paying more while getting less hospitality, whether they’re at a restaurant, hotel or entertainment venue.

“We’re not trying to be that,” said Melville. “We want to make sure our guests walk away and say, ‘That was an incredible experience.’”

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16 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
A line-up of wines in the indoor tasting room at Tablas Creek near Paso Robles (photo by C. Merlo.) New tables, chairs and red umbrellas are part of Tablas Creek’s outdoor wine-tasting setting (photo by C. Merlo.) “People want more than just a glass of wine” in their tasting experience, says Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Winery (photo by C. Merlo.)
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With a dearth of products to manage Pierce’s disease until recently, grape growers instead focused on controlling the insects that spread the disease and removing infected vines.

But federal and California registrations of the biopesticide XylPhi-PD from Palo-Alto-based A&P Inphatec in 2019 gave organic and conventional growers an option that targets Pierce’s disease itself.

The product’s active ingredients are a mix of two bacteriophages, also known as phages, said Josie Hugie, a PCA and consultant to A&P Inphatec. These naturally occurring viruses target and invade specific bacteria, killing them in the process and reproducing more phages. At the same time, they leave other microorganisms, other cells and their hosts unharmed. In the case of PD, the phages target the causal bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.

Ongoing University of California field trials that are examining three naturally

occurring bacteria as PD biocontrol agents also are yielding promising results.

The cause for concern is the financial gravity of the disease. In 2014, a UC study estimated Pierce’s disease cost California about $104.4 million per year in vine losses, industry assessments, compliance costs and expenditures by government agencies. Of that, growers bore $56.1 million in lost production and vine replacement expenses.

Texas A&M Research Outcome

Otsuka Pharmaceutical began work for controlling X. fastidiosa in 2007, and in 2010 contacted Carlos Gonzalez, a professor in Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. This led to a collaboration in phage research, which eventually became the first path to isolate phages for X. fastidiosa control.

Gonzalez also is a member of the Texas A&M AgriLife Center for Phage Technology, which is exploring unique therapies to treat bacterial infections of

plants, animals and humans.

After conducting extensive greenhouse and field testing, Texas A&M licensed the PD phages to Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., the parent of A&P Inphatec, to commercialize and market. In addition to being state and federally registered, the product is Organic Materials Review Institute listed for use on certified organic vineyards.

Vine Treatment

Growers inject XylPhi-PD into the xylem using the Pulse Xyleject device that resembles a cattle vaccination gun. The rate depends on the size of the vine. Israel Luna, A&P Inphatect services rep, recommended two injections of 0.08 milliliters each made at the base of the trunk of young vines or replants, staggering the location. For mature vines, he recommended four injections of 0.08 ml each, with two at the base of the trunk and one in each cordon near the trunk.

A 100 ml bottle can treat about 600 young vines or 300 mature vines. Within California, XylPhi-PD is available

18 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Blue-green sharpshooters frequent riparian areas near vineyards. Although they are efficient vectors of the Pierce’s disease bacterium, they are not strong flyers (photo by Alex Purcell, UC Berkeley.)

through Wilbur-Ellis Co. and Helena Agri-Enterprises (except in four counties: Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino).

Depending on PD pressure, Luna recommended two to three treatments per season spaced four to six weeks apart. The first injection should be given

at flowering or 8 to 10 weeks after the vines break dormancy.

“A lot of our current users with bluegreen sharpshooter on the coast use it twice per year, but it can be tailored on a case-by-case basis like whether a vineyard has high PD pressure or the vines are near a riparian area,” Hugie said.

But she was quick to point out the bacteriophages are not cure-alls and may not help vines that are too far gone.

“If you’re treating vines that are already infected, you can’t cure them all,” she said. “Tyloses will block the way for

July 2023 19
Glassy-winged sharpshooters have a wide host range and are strong flyers. As a result, they can carry the Pierce’s disease bacterium and spread it throughout a vineyard (photo by Reyes Garcia III, USDA-ARS.)
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Wood on new canes matures irregularly, producing patches of green surrounded by mature brown bark creating “green islands” (photo by Akif Eskalen, UCCE.)

the phages. You have to have realistic expectations.”

But in vineyards that had no PD, Hugie said they’ve successfully protected more than 99% of the vines from new disease symptoms.

Since 2019, several trials have been conducted in North Coast vineyards with XylPhi-PD, said Vincent Avila, A&P distributor sales and technical support representative. One set involved three vineyards on the Russian River and one on Dry Creek that had PD hotspots.

In each vineyard, a block was left untreated for the control, one block received treatments for two years (with no treatment in year one) and a third received treatments for three years.

After three years, Avila said they saw a 55% reduction in detectable X. fastidiosa for all vines and an 84% prevention efficacy with no new PD cases in the three-year treated group. There was only one new case in the two-year treated group. Visual symptoms were verified using PCR testing, a type of genetic fingerprinting.

Within these trials, a vineyard with PD found a 17% yield increase in vines treated three years and a 10% yield increase for vines treated two years compared to an untreated control.

Hunt for Other Biocontrol Agents

Dr. Akif Eskalen, a UCCE plant pathology professor, began a field trial near Davis in 2021 testing 10 different treatments. Among them are XylPhi-PD and three different biocontrol bacteria injected individually. In addition, each of the three bacteria were injected in combination with the phages. Of the treatments, only XlyPhi-PD is commercially available and registered for use in California grapes.

Eskalen said he decided to focus on organic and biological agents because synthetic products such as antibiotics are inefficient or not feasible at managing xylem-limiting pathogens.

“It’s very difficult to control a systemic pathogen like Xylella because you need something that’s systemic, and many of the pesticides are not systemic and will not move up and down [the xylem],” he said. “Because of that, we were very limited in trying to find alternate applications.”

Dr. Steve Lindow, professor emeritus with UC Berkeley Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, led a team that identified one of the beneficial bacterium, Paraburkholderia phytofirmans. In previous experiments, it appeared to induce disease resistance in grape plants.

The other two beneficial bacteria were discovered by Dr. Philippe Rolshausen with the UC Riverside Department of Botany and Plant Sciences while analyzing beneficial microbes in non-symptomatic grapevines growing in PD-infected symptomatic vineyards.

Eskalen’s trial is being conducted on 12-year-old Cabernet Franc vines in a vineyard with no history of PD located near the UC Davis campus in Solano County.

Except for the untreated control, all of the grapevines were inoculated with X. fastidiosa May 4, 2022. Depending on the treatment, the biocontrol agents were injected either one day before inoculation and/or seven days after inoculation. He also included a treatment that involved no biocontrol agent.

In August, Eskalen visually rated them for percentage PD foliar symptoms for five straight weeks.

One year into the trial, he called the results “interesting.” Vines treated with three injections of XylPhi-PD following label recommendations had 50% fewer foliar symptoms than the inoculated-only vines.

All three experimental biocontrol agents worked better when combined with XylPhi-PD than they did alone. And a combination of biocontrol agent 1/XylPhi-PD and a combination of biocontrol agent 3/XylPhi-PD performed the best of all treatments.

“This is not 100% control,” Eskalen said. “It’s a significant reduction of the infestation, and we’ve seen a reduction in the symptoms in our one-year trial.”

He emphasized the results are preliminary, and he plans to repeat the trial this year and next to see if the trends

20 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Matchsticking describes the Pierce’s disease symptom where the leaf withers and drops off but the petiole remains attached to the stem (photo by Akif Eskalen, UCCE.)
New leaves become chlorotic between leaf veins, and scorching appears on older leaves (photo by Akif Eskalen, UCCE.)

continue. But Eskalen said they were too promising not to discuss at least as preliminary findings.

The PD-Sharpshooter Relationship X. fastidiosa is spread by sharpshooters, a group of leafhoppers that includes blue-green sharpshooters, red-headed sharpshooters and glassy-winged sharpshooters.

As they insert their straw-like stylet to feed in the grapevine’s xylem vessels, or water-conducting tissue, infected sharpshooters inject bacteria. The plants respond with defense mechanisms that include tyloses, which are glue-like substances that dam up vascular tissue to prevent further damage, and gums. Together with the bacteria, they may block the xylem, resulting in wilting and possibly vine death.

During feeding, non-infected sharpshooters also may acquire X. fastidiosa from infected vines that serve as disease reservoirs.

PD symptoms may include marginal leaf scorching, fruit shrivel and “match-sticking” where leaves drop but the petioles remain. Infected plants also may look drought stressed, but a yellow or red-brown band between green and scorched areas on leaves is absent in drought-stressed vines. In addition, symptoms may vary widely, depending on the grape variety and when vines were initially infected.

Blue-green sharpshooters are very efficient vectors of the PD bacterium, but they aren’t strong fliers, said Rodrigo Krugner, a USDA-ARS research entomologist in Parlier. In the North Coast, they frequent riparian areas. As grapevines leaf out, they’ll move into vineyards but typically remain in only the first few rows closest to riparian areas.

Glassy-winged sharpshooters, on the other hand, are not efficient vectors of PD, he said. But they’re strong fliers and have an extensive host range. As a result, PD-infected vines may be found throughout a vineyard.

Pierce’s disease has been reported in California as far back as the 1880s. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s, about 10 years after the glassy-winged sharpshooter arrived in the state likely from the Southeast, that PD began to grab headlines. It turned out the newcomer had the potential to spread X. fastidiosa much farther and faster than native sharpshooters.

Currently, glassy-winged sharpshooters are found mainly in Southern California and the southern San Joaquin Valley.

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July 2023 21
Pierce’s disease also can cause shrivel of grape clusters (photo by Akif Eskalen, UCCE.)
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Leapfrogging from Solar to a Microgrid Domaine Carneros Seeks Energy Independence

At 3:20 am on Aug. 24, 2014, a 6.0 magnitude (severe) earthquake shook the Carneros region near Domaine Carneros, located on Duhig Road, just a few miles inland from San Francisco Bay.

Downtown, the classic 1901 Goodman Library, home to the Napa County Historical Society, was significantly damaged. Though only one person died, area damages were estimated at $1 billion. The South Napa Quake was the largest earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area since the famed 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

The earthquake hit just two weeks after picking for 2014 vintage sparkling wine was underway.

Importantly from the perspective of the wine industry, the earthquake interrupted power. More than 69,000 people, including many wineries, were without power.

Fast forward to 2017 when a series of fires hit Napa and Sonoma. The 2017 fires alone caused $14.5 billion in damages. In response, in 2018 Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) began implementing Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) when fire danger and winds were high. Again, wineries were not guaranteed power, especially during critical harvest periods when a lot of power is used for cooling and operations.

A Novel Solution

For Domaine Carneros, a sparkling wine producer owned by the famous French Champagne house Taittinger, the events sparked their interest in finding a more stable energy solution. They had already installed the largest solar array of any winery in the world in 2003. But they did not have a way to store solar energy.

“When we first discussed the project in 2018 and 2019, our motivation was to create energy independence in a power outage having recently experienced the 2014 earthquake and the 2017 fires,” said CEO Remy Cohen, who presented in-depth details about the winery’s analysis and planning efforts April 5 at Beringer Winery during the first day of Napa Green’s six-day climate summit Rise Green.

Working with Stacey Ellis, capital projects manager, the two, in conjunction with their solar vendors, found a microgrid was not only feasible but also cost effective. Initially, they were looking at a payback of 11 years, but subsequent PG&E rate increases and passage of new federal legislation sweetened the pie.

“PG&E has increased rates quicker and more than the model, so we anticipate a shorter ROI now,” said Cohen. The project costs nearly $1.9 million but federal investment tax credits (ITC) and state Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) incentives of $576,000 will kick

in, in addition to the winery’s net utility bill savings. The winery will also no longer need to rent a standby generator.

“The combination of the existing rooftop solar and the microgrid will allow us to generate 75% to 80% of the winery’s annual energy use,” she said.

The team looked at several alternatives during the planning process.

“The initial thought was to purchase just the generator and transfer switch that would shut off the grid and start up the generator, but that cost was $500,000 to $1 million and would sit most of the time just waiting for an outage and could take years to pay itself back,” she said. “The microgrid is operating and saving us money 365 days a year for an improved ROI and resiliency.”

Projected PG&E tax increases also make the case for a microgrid. Rates increased 16% in 2022 and are projected to rise dramatically over the next few years. Increases are projected to rise 18% in 2023 and more in the next three years, totaling a 32% increase by 2026, according to the PUC’s fact sheet.

22 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023

While many businesses have used microgrids to lower energy costs by what is called “peak shaving,” or using solar during PG&E’s highest rate periods, typically wineries have shied away from installing a microgrid due to high energy use at harvest.

But Cohen said their new system will be able to carry larger loads with a generator as backup.

“The battery can handle our full energy load for two hours. Therefore, it will operate longer than when we are operating below peak load. So, if the power goes out during harvest and we are operating at peak load, the battery will provide at least a couple hours of our energy demand and then there is a seamless transition to the generator.

“Although we are not completely independent from using a generator, the microgrid and battery will reduce our reliance on the generator and fuel consumption.

“Eventually, the winery may be able to improve the efficiency of our operations,” she added, “or get a battery with more capacity to reduce our generator reliance even further. The generator will handle any loads over the battery capacity. But most of the load will be covered by the solar and battery during the day and the generator will only be needed during the evening and at night when we are ‘islanding.’”

Why do the project now? Cohen said the 30% federal tax credit was one reason. But there are others.

“The battery technology is evolving rapidly so batteries can store more now in a smaller footprint than before,” she added.

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July 2023 23
Computer-generated images for Domaine Carnero’s microgrid project. In conjunction with the winery’s solar vendors, a microgrid is not only feasible but also cost effective (photos courtesy Domaine Carneros.) Domaine Carneros CEO Remy Cohen presented in-depth details about the winery’s microgrid analysis and planning efforts at Napa Green’s six-day climate summit Rise Green (photo by P. Strayer.)

Grapevine Red Blotch Virus in Comparison to Grapevine Leafroll-Associated Virus

Grapevine Red Blotch associated Virus (GRBaV) is the causal viral agent responsible for Grapevine Red Blotch Disease. This pathogen negatively impacts grape production by reducing fruit quality and yield. It can cause several physiological changes in vines, including changes in leaf color, reduced ripening speed and decreased fruit quality from reduced sugar and anthocyanin accumulation in the grapes. This reduction in fruit quality can lead to reduced market value, affecting the profitability of an impacted vineyard. The degree to which GRBaV will impact fruit quality and yield can vary from year to year within a vineyard but increases with the percent of infected vines contributing to the harvest. The exact mechanism by which Red Blotch reduces sugar accumulation in grape berries is still unclear; however, the available evidence suggests the virus affects the expression of genes involved in sugar transport and metabolism as well as in hormone signaling pathways that regulate sugar accumulation in grape berries.

Red Blotch disease was first discovered in Napa Valley, Calif. in 2008 when it was realized to be a new disease separate from leafroll which also causes similar red leaf symptoms as well as a reduction in fruit quality and yield. The similar-

ities between the effects of Red Blotch and leafroll viruses likely played a role at masking the presence of Red Blotch virus until efficient virus screening techniques for GRBaV were commonly employed. At the point of its discovery, Red Blotch disease was not a newly emerged viral disease but rather a viral disease new to our recognition as a viral disease. Due to the misidentification of GRBaV in symptomatic grapevines, the virus may have been widely spread across California by the time a screening procedure was developed to identify its presence in plant tissues. To this point, Red Blotch virus was detected in herbarium samples collected several decades before the formal recognition of the virus. Red Blotch virus is the only member of the genus Grablovirus within the family Geminiviridae and has been separated into at least two clades of distinct strains of the virus. While originally recognized in California, it has since been found in several grape-growing regions worldwide. Grapevine Leafroll-Associated Disease, on the other hand, is caused by one of six viruses from the family Closteroviridae. Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus (GLRaV) is one of the most important viral diseases affecting grape production worldwide. Of the six viruses associated with leafroll disease, GRLaV-3 in the genus Ampelovirus is the

most predominant; GLRaV-2 has also been noted as impacting large numbers of California’s vineyards.

Leaf Symptoms

Often described as beautiful fall color by visitors to the vineyard around harvest time, the development of red leaves in red grape varieties is a sign the vines are not healthy. The most prominent visual symptoms of Red Blotch are reddish-pink blotches or patches that appear on the leaves of infected red grape varieties. These blotches usually appear later in the growing season, usually after véraison, first appearing on older leaves near the bottoms of shoots and later developing on leaves higher up the shoot. These blotches are irregular in shape and often have a mosaic pattern. Foliar symptoms of GRBaV and GLRaV are visually similar, and both result in red- or yellow-toned tissue of the leaf blade depending on the grape cultivar. With Red Blotch, the leaf veins also turn red which is in contrast with leafroll in which the veins remain green. Another subtle difference is that Red Blotch does not distort the shape of the leaf causing the leaf blade to remain flat while Leafroll-associated viruses can cause some leaf blades to roll down along the margins, resulting in a downward curl. When a vine has Grapevine

24 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023

Red Botch Virus and a Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus, leaf symptoms usually present as typically expected for Grapevine Leafroll associated Viruses with leaves showing green veins and some degree of leaf rolling. Towards the end of the season, symptomatic leaves from either virus may turn completely red, complicating visual diagnosis. In white varieties of grape, both viruses are much less conspicuous as the leaves do not turn red but may present in a subtle, yellow-chlorotic, patchy pattern.

Virus Spread Through Infected Material

Both viruses can be transmitted through propagation of infected planting material. The use of CDFA-certified virus-tested vines is an important initial step in excluding viruses in your vineyard. As there is currently no cure for vines once infected with Red Blotch or Leafroll, the use virus-free planting materials and the removal of infected vines is the first line of defense in virus management. Scouting and monitoring vineyards for red leaf symptoms in the fall is essential for early detection. PCR testing can be used to confirm viral presence in visually identified symp-

tomatic vines if there is any doubt about the symptoms and is especially useful for confirming virus status of white grape cultivars. Once identified, infected vines should be rogued from the vineyard to reduce pathogenic inoculum and prevent them from serving as a source of virus that could inflect healthy vines. Vines identified in the late part of the growing season should be removed before the start of the next season to minimize the spread of the virus by insect vectors.

PCR-based testing methods are the standard for determining virus status of individual vines with a high degree of accuracy but becomes cost-prohibitive at commercial scales. New approaches to virus identification are being developed to allow for screening of vines rapidly and accurately within a whole vineyard. The use of drone-based hyperspectral imaging has been demonstrated to be more accurate at identifying vines infected with Red Blotch or Leafroll compared to visual scouting by experts when coupled with machine learning methods. Another approach in development involves the use of dogs trained to detect virus in vines. Other methods in development include non-destructive wavelength transmission and reflection to identify foreign organisms within the vine without damaging the plant.

Virus Spread by Insect Vectors

The three-cornered alfalfa hopper (Spissistilus festinus, TCAH) is currently the

only confirmed vector of Red Blotch virus. It is an insect that can feed on many plant species including grapevines and is widely distributed throughout the U.S. Plants such as alfalfa and other legumes serve as the preferred hosts for TCAH; however, as these plants dry up over the season, TCAH will migrate onto less preferred hosts such as grapevine. This pattern of micro-migration may be particularly problematic in vineyards where annual cover crop decline occurs near the beginning of vegetative growth for grapevines. TCAH can acquire GRBaV from feeding on infected plants and subsequently spread the virus to healthy vines. However, studies investigating the vector-capacity of TCAH have found they are not good at spreading the virus. TCAH is a circulative and non-propagative host where the virus does not replicate within the insect but is transferred into the salivary glands. TCAH requires an extended acquisition period of about 10 days to uptake the virus while feeding on infected vines followed by an extended inoculation access period of about four days of feeding on healthy vines to spread the virus. As grapevines are not the preferred host, TCAH populations usually remain low within vineyards and are mainly driven by the presence of legumes in cover crops. Timely management of cover crops by tillage before TCAH reaches adulthood may help reduce population sizes and limit virus

July 2023 25
Figure 1. Visual symptoms of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus showing in older leaves of an infected vine. Notice healthy vines on either side showing yellowing leaves as the vines prepare to drop the leaves (all photos by J. Tanner, courtesy University of California.) Figure 2. Red leaf virus symptoms on Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (left) showing mosaic pattern of red patches with red leaf veins, Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus (right) showing red patches and green veins.


spread by the alfalfa hopper. Additionally, removing unmanaged grapevines from the perimeter of vineyard areas is helpful as these vines can act as virus reservoirs and are particularly at risk of

infection in riparian areas where insect populations may be higher. The work of identifying and confirming insect vectors of Red Blotch is ongoing, and there are many other insects identified as potential vectors currently under investigation.

Due to the feeding nature of TCAH, alternative plant hosts of GRBaV should be identified in California and managed to reduce potential inoculum sources near vineyards. To date, few endemic plant species within California have been tested to see if they can harbor GRBaV. However, researchers tested 13 species of woody, herbaceous plants from riparian areas which tested positive for GRBaV and identified two positive hosts: Himalayan Blackberry and a wild grapevine hybrid (V. californica x V. vinifera). In certain regions of California, a higher number of inoculum sources and alternative hosts for GRBaV may lead to higher pathogen pressure in vineyards with Red Blotch symptoms. With the potential for other insect vectors being able to transmit GRBaV, it is important to understand which plants in vineyard-adjacent ecosystems can increase risk of Red Blotch transmission into grapevines.

For Leafroll, several species of mealybugs (family Pseudococcidae) and scale insects (family Coccoidea) have been shown to be competent vectors. However, the most important vector of GLRaV is the vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus), an invasive species first detected in California in the mid-1990s which can have up to seven generations in a single growing season. The vine mealybug requires a period of as little as 15 minutes of feeding on an infected vine to acquire Leafroll. Because of the efficiency of virus uptake by the vine mealybug and the rapid nature of its reproductive strategy, in areas where vine mealybug is present, Leafroll has the potential for rapid spread. The most effective management strategy for vine mealybugs involves an integrated approach which includes the use of biological, cultural and chemical control methods as well as managing ants which protect mealybugs from their natural enemies. The parasitoid wasp

Anagryus pseudococci and other beneficial species have been shown to successfully reduce vine mealybug infestations to manageable levels. A detailed guide to this approach is available at ipm.ucanr. edu/agriculture/grape/vine-mealybug/.

In summary, both Red Blotch and Leafroll viruses can cause significant impacts to fruit quality and yield. Both viruses will cause symptoms of red leaves in red grape cultivars; however, slight differences between these symptoms can be visually identified and useful in distinguishing between the two. Once symptomatic vines are identified, PCR testing can confirm virus status. While both viruses can be vectored through the propagation of infected material, there’s great differences in the efficiency of virus spread by insect vectors. For Red Blotch, the three-cornered alfalfa hopper, requires an unusually long acquisition time of about 10 days of feeding on infected vines before it can spread the virus compared to the alarmingly quick uptake of Leafroll by the vine mealybug in around 15 minutes. Other potential insect vectors of Red Blotch have been identified and are currently under investigation. Additionally, the three-cornered alfalfa hopper usually doesn’t reach high populations within vineyards as the grapevine is not it’s preferred host plant; while the vine mealybug, on the other hand, due to its prolific reproductive strategy has the potential to reach very high numbers if left untreated in the vineyard. Once infected with Red Blotch or leafroll, there is no cure, and removal of the vine is the only sure way to prevent future spread to neighboring vines. Monitoring GRBaV symptomatic grapevines and removing them from the vineyard quickly may be the best approach to limiting the spread of Red Blotch at the moment. With research ongoing and without a clear understanding of how the virus can rapidly spread, reducing inoculum sources is a proven, preventative strategy.

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26 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Figure 3. Signs of three-cornered alfalfa hopper feeding damage causing leaf girdling (highlighted with arrows.) This sign does not indicate virus infection. Notice the red color of the girdled leaf compared to other leaves on the shoot. Figure 4. Vine mealybugs on the trunk of a grapevine revealed after removal of loose bark. Notice how the mealybugs are surrounded by ants.


Capturing Maximum Genetic Potential


Hawk and Horse Vineyards embodies three novel traditions: ranching in Lake County and the area’s unique horse-riding traditions, the Red Hills AVA with its unique “Lake County diamonds” and biodynamic farming. These make it an utterly unique producer of fine red wines. Add to that the presence of one of wine’s most famous winemaking figures, Richard Peterson, and the Boies-Hawkins families’ many branches, and you have a powerful combination of influences and a winery making award-winning red wines.

Located in Lower Lake, the site consists of 1,380 acres, of which 18 are planted to wine grapes (16 to Cabernet Sauvignon, one to Cabernet Franc, and one to Petit Verdot).

Grape & Wine spoke to co-owner Tracy Hawkins about the winery’s history and focus.

When did you begin to grow wine grapes and make wine?

My family, namely my stepfather, David Boies, purchased 960 acres of land on the Mayacama Mountain Range in Lower Lake in the mid-1980s (another 340 or so acres were purchased later.) David wanted a property where he could make a dream of growing quality California Cabernet Sauvignon come true. He also wanted a ranch which could be a retreat for our large extended family to meet and celebrate together. David was not limited in his search by geography or cost. He wanted land that could be self-sustaining, beautiful and could grow

can take advantage of farming biodynamically (all photos courtesy Hawk and

28 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Hawk and Horse Vineyards Co-Owner Tracy Hawkins believes anyone that wants to Horse Vineyards.) Hawk and Horse Vineyards Co-Owner Tracy Hawkins describes the acreage as having “phenomenal red volcanic soils and unlimited potential.”

quality wine grapes. When we found this land, which had been a renowned Arabian horse breeding facility in the 60s and 70s, it had all of those things as well as the historic horse facility and homes.

There was no such thing as “Red Hills AVA” at this time, but we knew this was a site with phenomenal red volcanic soils and unlimited potential. Biodynamic and organic farming protocols enable us to develop that potential in harmony with nature. By farming in harmony with nature, we bring forth the true essence of this most magical place.

You’ve chosen to farm organically and biodynamically. What attracted you to those practices? When we started to convert 15 acres into vineyards, we chose a site up at 2200 feet elevation on Mayacamas Mountain Range, and in doing that, I just couldn’t go for some of the advice, putting up plastic all over where you’re going to plant and then pump some chemicals in there to kill everything. And I just can’t think of doing that.

We were told by so many people that even just being organic was the kiss of death. People told me, “No one can do it.” The winemaking course I took at UC Davis was not very favorable toward organic and made it sound like you can’t really produce quality in that way. First of all, in the farming protocols. And then secondly, in the winemaking protocols. But that’s clearly been proven wrong, not just by us, but by a whole movement of wineries and grape growers and things.

We became certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) in 2004 and biodynamic by Demeter USA in 2008.

We had one person who was one of the big commercial vineyard managers, the type of person who would manage a vineyard for an absentee vineyard owner. He told us that he’d done organic and the vines just died because he [mistakenly] thought that organic just means you do nothing. It couldn’t be more different from that. In organic, the thing is that you do nothing with synthetic chemicals.

Biodynamics is a step beyond organics. What appeals to you about farming biodynamically? What I love about biodynamics is the thinking of what then can you do? Biodynamics gives you this whole plethora of tools to use. It’s not just clean and

ecofriendly but actually regenerative. When we started doing biodynamic, regenerative wasn’t even a thing. It wasn’t even really thought of commonly.

July 2023 29
Bird boxes and Scottish Highland Cattle are all part of the biodynamic sphere that makes up Hawk and Horse.

I was also raising a young daughter and had studied a little bit about biodynamics. I can’t even remember the moment in time when I realized biodynamics was where we wanted to go or how I even found that there was an organization called Demeter that was encouraging and promoting and educating people in this way, but all the things came together sort of magically. Fast forward to today, and we have this amazing and beautiful ecosystem up there. We’re producing fantastic wine grapes that make wine that’s just off the charts.

You’ve also kept alive some of the ranching and horse-riding traditions Lake County is well known for. When David purchased the ranch, it came with a couple of horses. Whenever I could, I would visit and ride. I rode mostly bareback and had no formal lessons. I read equestrian books and magazines and just rode the trails for fun. Now horses are a daily part of family life. They are used to riding our fence line on the ranch, so they have a practical use. They are also our rodeo partners and beloved family pets.

As our children grew, riding horses became a family activity. My two younger daughters began to compete in rodeo about five years ago. I decided that it looked too fun to not participate. So, I began to take lessons, along with

my daughters, from local rodeo legend Helen Owen of Owen Ranch in Hidden Valley. Now we all compete and love it. The rodeo community is strong in Lake County and it is very family oriented. This is a very blessed lifestyle for families, and we do not take a moment of it for granted. Having animals on the ranch as well as on our home property on Howell Mountain enlivens the land and enriches our lives in many ways.

How do you sell your wines?

We sell over half of our wine direct to consumer through our wine club and a VIP buyers list, and then the rest through high-end restaurants and a few Mom and Pop wine shops in key areas.

Over the years, we’ve realized there are a few key markets. I think most of the small family held wineries find this to be true; you find your niche. For us, it is geographical as well as for people looking for exquisite wines, but also people who are environmentally conscious, which is becoming more and more prevalent. Certain markets have just really resonated. For some reason, we sell a lot of wine in Florida, we sell a lot of wine in Las Vegas on the strip, believe it or not. Las Vegas has become a more modern, unique and interesting place and a foodie heaven with great chefs.

After nearly 20 years of organic and an almost equal number of years in biodynamic, what

observations do you have about this type of farming?

I would say, generally, it’s not as hard as people might think. It’s not. It’s definitely hands-on. It’s definitely labor-intensive. But I think it’s not as hard as people might think. The other thing that I would say is it’s more resilient. In 2007, there was a big frost in Napa and Lake counties early in the growing season, and overall, California had a big loss in production that year. But we had an increase because we came through after the frost almost immediately, like the very next day, with a silica infused tea, which we use. We sprayed that on the vines as a foliar applicant, and literally some of the leaves, the burn that freeze looks like on the tendrils, literally unfurled, and some of the pieces that were burned beyond repair fell off and a new leaf grew. It was just incredible.

What advice do you give others when asked about your farming practices?

What I would like to say about organic and especially about biodynamic farming is the protocols are available to anybody. You don’t have to be Demeter certified to have access to these wonderful tools. So, I would say first of all, anybody that wants to know more, give us a call.

You’ve also had the benefit of working with one of the greats in California winemaking, Richard

30 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023
Hawk and Horse Vineyards is located in Lower Lake, Calif. and consists of 1,380 acres, of which 18 are planted to wine grapes.

Peterson, as a consulting winemaker. What was that experience like?

In the early days of our project, we interviewed consulting winemakers. And we worked with a few. But what Dr. Peterson brought to the project was something like magic, a place where science and poetry meet in winemaking.

Dick studied food science at UC Berkeley, so he had the science background. But he also has an impeccable palate.

Dick taught us more about viticulture and winemaking than we could have ever imagined not knowing if that makes sense. We learned about balancing wine in the vineyard. Though it is commonly said “wine is made in the vineyard,” Dick taught us how to balance sugars and acidity, even in tough growing years, and how to harvest at the best possible moment to minimize or eliminate intervention in the cellar. He had the rare gift of understanding the earth and vines as well as the winemaking process.

We had an instinct or sense of what we wanted to craft from our land. Dick taught us how to make the decisions, based on science, to bring that instinct forward, resulting in the very best our land had to offer. He didn’t just tell us what to do. He took the time to teach us.

Dick is that sort of rare, gentle, patient teacher who draws the answer from you even when he knows the answer and it would be easier for him to just tell you what to do.

Dick taught us about balance and subtlety. He would say a wine is great when nothing sticks out. He taught us about spoilage, how it is formed and how to prevent it in harmony with nature (the key is balanced pH.) He settled family debates about when to harvest, how much to water, blending and more.

Over the years, Dick became far more to our family than just a consulting winemaker. Our family will always cherish memories of visiting his and Sandy’s

Christmas Tree Farm at their home in Napa the first weekend after Thanksgiving to purchase our tree, sip hot cider, work jigsaw puzzles, and bring home a little mistletoe. When Dick and Sandy sold that home a few years ago, we were touched and honored to have been given two giant wooden candy-canes that once decorated his place for the holidays.

Dick is an icon with a heart of gold. He never sought the limelight but was happy to see those with whom he worked and mentored succeed.

I recommend his book, “The Winemaker.” It is an absolute must-read for anyone who loves wine, life, history or a good story.

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July 2023 31
Garton Tractor, Inc. 4780 South K Street Tulare, CA 93724 (559)686-0054 | T5.120 with Air-O-Fan


California’s rich agricultural landscape is renowned for its vineyards and the exceptional wines they produce. However, the success of these vineyards often faces a significant challenge in the form of wildlife intrusions. Animals like deer, birds and rodents can cause substantial damage to grapevines, resulting in decreased yields and compromised grape quality.

To mitigate this issue, California grape growers should incorporate animal deterrent products into their vineyard management practices. These products not only safeguard the integrity of vineyards but also contribute to sustainable farming practices and protect the local ecosystem.

Mitigating Losses

Grapes are a valuable crop for California growers, and protecting vineyards from animal damage is crucial for ensuring a successful harvest. Animals, especially deer, have a voracious appetite for grapevines, consuming leaves, buds and even ripening grapes. This herbivory can lead to significant yield losses and damage the overall quality of the grapes by defoliat-

ing young vines. According to UC IPM Guidelines, deer can stunt, distort or kill plants by repetitive browsing, and bucks can sometimes scar bark on trunks and lower limbs when they rub their antlers.

Animal damage can also cause grapevines to become diseased or infected. Some bird species can peck at grapes, leading to wounds that can become infected and lead to rot, while other species can remove the entire grape and even puncture lower grapes with their feet, according to UC IPM Guidelines. Ground squirrels cause a myriad of damage to vineyards in general, including but not limited to direct feeding on grapes, trunk girdling, chewing of irrigation lines, and root damage, which can lead fungal pathogens to infect trees. Rabbits can also chew on bark and clip young branches in search of buds and/or foliage.

This damage in vineyards can result in substantial economic losses for grape growers. By employing animal deterrent products, such as visual and audio repellents, chemical repellents and physical barriers, grape growers can significantly

reduce the economic impact of animal intrusions, ensuring a better return on their investment.

Visual and audio repellents like scare devices work by scaring animals like birds away from the grapevines using flashing lights, loud noises and other stimuli (UC IPM notes these devices haven’t yet been found to deter ground squirrels.) Mylar streamers and “scare eye” balloons are common visual repellents and bird bombs, shell crackers, gas cannons and electronic stress calls are common audio repellents. UC IPM has various recommendations for each method but recommends monitoring bird response to stimuli as the effectiveness of a single stimulus will likely wear off over time depending on how long birds have been feeding in a given vineyard. The quicker a visual or audio repellent is implemented, the more effective control will be.

Chemical repellents like fumigation and baiting can deter squirrels and other small vertebrates. Make sure to read label instructions and UC IPM Guidelines to determine usage restrictions.

32 Grape & Wine Magazine July 2023

Physical barriers such as fences and netting, prevent animals from accessing the grapevines altogether. Woven-wire fences and electric fences are especially effective for deterring deer, but they must be tall enough for effective deterrence. UC IPM Guidelines state electric fences are less expensive to install but more expensive to maintain over time. Rabbit fencing can be installed along the bottom of deer fencing if both animals are an issue, but the severity of the rabbit problem and size of the vineyard may dictate only the deer fence being necessary. Netting works well against birds but is one of the most expensive options for deterring them.

When choosing animal deterrent products, growers should consider several factors, including the type of animal they want to repel, the size and layout of their vineyard, and their budget.

Protecting Biodiversity

The use of animal deterrent products in vineyards goes beyond protecting grape crops and financial interests; it also contributes to the preservation of biodiversity and the overall health of the ecosystem. When animals like deer, birds and rodents consume grapevines, they disrupt the natural balance of the local flora and fauna. By employing animal deterrent products, grape growers can create a harmonious coexistence between their vineyards and the wildlife surrounding them, allowing native plants and animals to thrive.

Many animal deterrent products are designed to be environmentally friendly and safe for wildlife. For example, bird netting is made from recyclable materials and can be reused for several years. By investing in these products, California grape growers can protect their crop without harming the animals that live in the surrounding area.

Compliance with Environmental Regulations

California has stringent regulations in place to protect the environment and wildlife. Grape growers must comply with these regulations to maintain their operating licenses. Incorporating animal deterrent products into vineyard management practices demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship. By

adopting these measures, growers show their dedication to preserving wildlife habitats, preventing potential conflicts between agriculture and nature, and maintaining a sustainable balance.

California grape growers face numerous challenges, including wildlife intrusions that can jeopardize the success of their vineyards. Employing animal deterrent products is an effective and environmentally conscious approach to mitigate these

challenges. These products help preserve grape crops, reduce economic losses, protect biodiversity, encourage sustainable farming practices and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

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July 2023 33
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The Technology:

Through the use of minute electromagnetic fields (penergetic technology) stimulates biological systems. By working with nature, and without harming the environment such electromagnetic fields are able to stimulate agricultural processes (such as supporting biological activity, including plant growth); act as a (kind of) ‘virtual fence’ deterring unwanted wildlife (mainly deer and boar) from entering the treated property.

-For more information on the technology please visit or contact your penergetic rep.

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“This is the only product I have tried that has provided 6 months of complete control from heavy deer pressure. Even trees that were previously damaged had a chance to rebound and have turned into productive trees.”*

Raymond Antonowich - General Manager - Rancho Esquon - Chico, CA

Last year we planted 3,000 new almond trees. In the first few weeks after planting, we lost 300 trees to deer. We used the penergetic deterrent and the deer damage literally stopped overnight. We have now used this product into the second year and have only had to apply once in the growing season. It’s like we put up a fence. We still have yet to see any signs of deer on the treated acreage, but see them on the untreated parts of our farm.”*

Matt Vernoga - Vernoga Orchards - Durham, CA

We are currently using penergetic b WV on three different vineyards on the coast. We definitely have seen success. It’s something our vineyard managers want to continue to use. It appears to be working better than any other tool we’ve had.”*

Joseph O’Gorman - PCA/Field Sales Rep - Wilbur Ellis - California

This product was sprayed directly over a high value cilantro crop, and since the application there has been no evidence of deer damage.”*

Michelle Armstrong-Zielinsky - Wilbur Ellis - Woodburn, OR

“We have resident deer always coming through the orchards and eating on the young replant trees. The first time we used this product, they just disappeared.”*

Shawn Conde - Conde Farms - Oakdale, CA

*Individual results may vary based on wildlife pressure and climate

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