UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

Viticulture Frequently Asked Questions

Rhonda Smith, Viticulture Farm Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma County
(707) 565-2621 rhsmith@ucanr.edu

Where can I find information on grape prices?
Where can I find information on weather or climate?
What is the cost to establish a vineyard in Sonoma County?
What is the outlook for the grape supply and grape prices?
What short courses and educational programs or materials are available in viticulture?
How do I find the grapevine nurseries that sell the clone or variety of winegrape that I am interested in planting?
I want to find a buyer for my grapes. How do I learn what wineries are in Sonoma County (or anywhere else)?
I want to network! What grape and wine industry organizations are out there in Sonoma County?

Where can I find information on grape prices?
The Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner's Office publishes an annual Crop Report. The 2011 report included average current prices for selected grape cultivars. Prices reflected in this report include grapes from winery-owned vineyards and may be slightly lower than average grower returns.

Source: 2011 Sonoma County Crop Report
Source: 2011 Sonoma County Crop Report

The California Department of Food and Agriculture publishes a Grape Crush Report containing grape prices for all cultivars, by "crush district." Sonoma and Marin Counties are grouped into District 3 while District 4 contains Napa County. Table 10 of this report is the weighted average grower return on non-related purchases; values in table 8 include grapes from winery-owned vineyards.

Where can I find information on weather or climate?
The UC IPM Weather Data website distributes historical weather and climate data. The UC IPM website publishes data from both California Irrigation Management System (CIMIS) weather stations and also data from NOAA climatic stations. CIMIS stations report extensive meteorological data, including reference evapotranspiration that can be used for vineyard irrigation scheduling. NOAA climatic stations report only daily high and low temperatures and precipitation.

What is the cost to establish a vineyard in Sonoma County?
Vineyard establishment costs vary greatly depending on vine spacing, trellis design and materials, slope, soil and other factors. Installation costs may be over $20,000 an acre. That does not include land cost, cash overhead or non-cash overhead (capitol recovery cost); however, it does include site preparation, planting and cultural costs the year planted.

The 2010 UCCE Sample Costs to Establish a Vineyard and Produce Wine Grapes publication details estimated installation and ongoing expenses for a 30 acre winegrape vineyard on flat ground with a 8' x 5' vine-by-row spacing. UC Davis cost and return studies for winegrapes in other regions, and other crops may provide further insight to potential vineyard development in Sonoma County.

What is the outlook for the grape supply and grape prices?
The supply of grapes as well as the demand and availability of wine are just a few of the factors that affect grape prices. Other pressures on grape prices in the North Coast include the availability of wine imports, many of which are priced well below the same varietal wines produced in Napa and Sonoma Counties. These are very dynamic factors that can rapidly change. Wine is aggressively exported from Australia, Italy, France and South America. Simultaneously, the grape acreage in those countries is increasing.

The California Agricultural Statistics Service California Grape Acreage report is heavily relied upon by industry analysts. This report is available online, at the Wine Library in Healdsburg, or a hard copy may be ordered by calling (916)-498-5161. The report is available in June of each year and provides non-bearing and bearing acreage by variety and county for the most recently completed crop year. Data published in this report are estimates based on actual reported acreage, inflated to account for non-reported acreage.

What short courses and educational programs or materials are available in viticulture?
University of California at Davis Extension (UC Davis Extension):
This self-supporting, nonprofit organization funded by course fees, grants and contracts offers one to three day courses on the technical aspects of wine making and grape growing. College-level courses are offered in a distance learning format. Under "Areas of Study" click on Winemaking to see program descriptions and a complete list of both viticulture and enology courses.

Sonoma State University, Wine Business Program: Students can receive a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis on wine business strategies. Professional development courses are available for people currently in the industry. This program is tightly linked to the local wine growing industry that provides funding support and winery internship opportunities. For more information phone (707) 664-2260.

Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa: Offers a Viticulture Management Career Certificate Program in which students are trained for employment as vineyard managers in North Coast wine grape production. Some courses are transferable to CSU. The college catalog and current schedule of classes are available on-line. For general information contact (707) 527-4011 or (800)-564-SRJC. SRJC, 1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401-4395.

UC Davis Bookstore:
The UC Davis Bookstore offers over 100 books on viticulture and enology. Texts range from the very general to the quite specific for both the inspired newcomer to the technically trained professional. A hardcopy "Viticulture Enology Book Catalog" is sporadically published. Click on the link above and go to the left side of the sceen. Click on "General Books" then "Viticulture and Enology". The Technical Book Staff can answer questions as well as take phone orders. For further information phone (530) 752-6846.

How do I find the grapevine nurseries that sell the clone or variety of winegrape that I am interested in planting?
The National Registry for Grape Varieties and Clones (NGR) provides information on virtually all grape material in the United States. Along with synonyms, naming discrepancies, origins and other pertinent information, there are links to nurseries and U.S. grapevine collections.

Foundation Plant Service (FPS), located on the UC Davis campus, is a grapevine importation facility with importation protocol overseen by the U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). It performs custom disease testing and elimination services and has a quarantine facility for imported or domestic grape selections. FPS establishes and maintains Foundation source vines for the California Grapevine Registration and Certification Program. The website contains the most recent registered selections. To learn more about the services offered by FPS, phone (530) 752-3590.

I want to find a buyer for my grapes. How do I learn what wineries are in Sonoma County (or anywhere else)?
Many wineries located in the county are members of the Sonoma County Vintners. If you grow grapes in Sonoma or Marin Counties, you may list your grapes for sale on the grape marketplace section of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission website. Grape buyers may also post desired varieties/tons. The Wines and Vines 2011 Directory & Buyer's Guide lists wineries by state. Wineries in Canada and Mexico are also included. Information on wineries is available in a searchable format on a compact disk that includes mailing software for printing labels. The directory and disc can be purchased from Wines & Vines, phone (415) 453-9700.

I want to network! What grape and wine industry organizations are in Sonoma County?
This is a partial listing of local organizations that address promotion, marketing, technical, or issue-based aspects of farming grapes and selling wine. Many of the associations meet monthly. Some sponsor events for their membership as well as the public during the year.

Alexander Valley Winegrowers
Contact: 1-888-AVWINES (289-4637)

California Association of Winegrape Growers
Contact: (800) 241-1800

Russian River Valley Winegrowers
Contact: (707)521-2534

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission
Contact: (707) 522-5860

Sonoma County Vineyard Technical Group
Contact: Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative
Extension Farm Advisor (707)565-2621

Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance
Contact: (707) 935-0803

United Winegrowers
Contact: Bob Anderson, (707) 433-7319

 

 

 
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University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
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