New panel to direct use of funds collected from wine grape growers
SACRAMENTO—CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. has appointed 14 California grape growers and vintners to the Pierce’s Disease and Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board. The board was created by Governor Gray Davis when he signed AB 1394 by Assemblymember Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) on July 25, 2001. The new law provides for an annual assessment to be paid by the industry to help fund scientific research and other measures to find a treatment or cure for Pierce’s disease and to respond to glassy-winged sharpshooter infestations.
The board, made up of growers and processors from the state’s major grape growing regions, will be responsible for making program recommendations to the CDFA.
“With the naming of this new board, the wine grape industry is delivering on a promise to help cure Pierce’s disease,” said Secretary Lyons. “This problem certainly affects wine grapes, but it also impacts several other important commodities in California. I commend the industry’s effort and investment in protecting California agriculture.”
“California vintners and wine grape growers have cooperated with this statewide effort from the very beginning,” said John DeLuca of the Wine Institute. “Now, our industry is showing its long-term commitment by dedicating millions of dollars and the expert advice of this very capable new board. This public/private partnership will aggressively move California toward a solution to Pierce’s disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter.”
Upon passage of the new law, CDFA solicited nominations from the grape and wine industries. Secretary Lyons appointed the following 14 board members from 32 highly qualified nominations:
Albert W. Rossini, Owner, Rossini Farming Company, Inc.
Dennis J. Atkinson, V.P. of Agri-Business, Tejon Ranch Company
Bradford A. Lange, Co-owner, Lange Twins, Inc.
Paul Wulf, Owner, Wulf Vineyards
Dana Merrill, Owner, Mesa Vineyard Management & Coastal Valley Management
Bennett R. Drake, President and Owner, Drake Enterprises, Inc.
Frank E. Leeds, Owner, Chavez & Leeds Vineyards
Kevin S. Andrew, Senior V.P., Operations, Sun World International, Inc.
Robert E. Steinhauer, Senior V.P., Vineyard Operations, Beringer Blass Wine Estates
Herb Schmidt, V.P. Public Affairs, Robert Mondavi Winery
Gregory J. Coleman, Director, Grower Relations, E&J Gallo Winery
James Glen Unti, Director/V.P., Grower Relations, Canandaigua Wine Company
Edgar “Pete” Downs, V.P., Government Affairs, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates
Steve McIntyre, Owner/President, Monterey Pacific, Inc.
Pierce's disease is a lethal disease that afflicts grapevines, and is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The disease has been present in California for decades, killing thousands of acres of grapevines as far back as the late 1800s. At least twenty-four counties in California have reported cases of Pierce's disease. In 1999, it was discovered that a new leafhopper, known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter, was spreading Pierce's disease in Southern California, having a devastating impact on vineyards and—to a lesser degree—on oleanders and almonds. This outbreak caused losses of millions of dollars to growers in the Temecula Valley.
Infestations of the glassy-winged sharpshooter have been identified in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Clara, Imperial, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Butte, Fresno, Tulare, Kern and Santa Barbara counties. To stop the spread of the pest, the CDFA has inspected in the past year more than 50,000 shipments of nursery plants and more than 100,000 shipments of grapes.
Governor Davis has taken a number of steps to prevent this threat to California's $33 billion wine industry. Over the past two years, the governor has signed legislation providing over $17 million to boost research and eradication efforts. To date, more than $39 million in state and federal funds has been allocated to fight Pierce's disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The CDFA coordinates the statewide regulatory program, which includes long-term research and short-term eradication and control programs.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814