California harvest damage assessed

Press reports to the contrary’, the California winegrape harvest for 1989 is alive and in reasonably good health – at least overall. There were some areas of the North Coast – primarily foggier parts of Mendocino County and Sonoma County that were hard hit, with Chardonnay crop losses of 50 to 60%, being reported.

There were also heavy losses of Chenin blanc and Zinfandel, with rot reported inside bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many, grapes were harvested at lower sugars than some would like to see. The bottom line, according to many winemakers, is that what had looked like a “great vear” will probably turn out to be average to good, but certainly not a disaster.

Michael Weiss, the winemaker at Vichon Winery in Napa, told Wines & Vines, that press reports of damage to the crop were exaggerated.

Kerry Damskey at Vinwood Cellars said he %,as seeing some low sugars but because of careful picking, fruit was in fairly good shape.

Vinwood and many other North Coast wineries were keeping an eye on the weather and were still picking Cabernet Sauvignon well into early November.

Overall, the harvest is expected to be down about 20 to 25 % from earlier North Coast estimates, which would put it about in line with last year’s harvest. . f

The California Wine Commission has been instructed to comply with the state’s Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. The act is designed to ensure that decisions of state bodies are made in public meetings. According to Lynn A. Horel, of the Department of Food and Agriculture, program manager for the Wine Commission, the CWC, like all state marketing order advisory boards is a “state body” under the definitions of the act.

Horel wrote to james Errecarte, executive director of the CWC, pointing out that “members of the Commission should not meet in any unofficial or private setting in which they undertake detailed discussions of or make decisions on issues pending decision by the Commission.”

Horel directed that such decisions be made only at open meetings of the Wine Commission. It is unclear how the state can determine exactly where and when decisions are made.

The issue originally arose when veteran California agricultural journalist Harold Rogers charged that Wine Commission decisions were actually being made at meetings of Wine Institute, a trade organization not covered by the Open Meeting Act. Critics have complained that since Wl receives well over 50 % of the funds disbursed by the Wine Commission. they were actually functioning as a state body.

Errecarte sent a copy of Horel’s letter to CWC commissioners and alternates.

COPYRIGHT 1989 Hiaring Company

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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