Spray, Mow And Mulch Your Way To Better Grape Yields

By Gerald Dlubala

2 men inspecting a vineyard machine

Quality wines start with quality grapes. Quality grapes start with quality care, meaning everything from the soil to the prevention of disease and insect damage. Proper mowers, mulchers and spray systems can help with this process.

Slimline Manufacturing: Go With The Flow

Wayne Riddle sells Turbo-Mist Agricultural Sprayers for Slimline Manufacturing, based in British Columbia, Canada. Slimline sprayers take advantage of the wind’s trajectory, transforming a potential setback into the sprayer’s key feature.

“Any successful chemical application is based on good circulation,” says Riddle. “So, we control the movement of the wind to direct chemically loaded droplets to their target. The terminology that we use is the gear-up, throttle-down method, which is to say that we can speed up or slow down our machinery at the proper times to effectively change the speed and strength of wind flow, which then controls the direction and reach of the applied product. There can be different coverage needs for different areas of the vineyard based on factors like soil type, terrain makeup, disease or insect problems. This is where we need to adjust for different wind speeds to apply the right amounts of chemicals for a particular situation.”

Controlling coverage in this way means less waste, easier maintenance, and more environmentally responsible chemical application.

“This [feature] eliminates chemical waste and saves money on both fuel and equipment wear and tear. The tractor and sprayer don’t have to work as hard, so fuel consumption is more economical,” Riddle says. “We stay socially responsible by using the least amount of product possible and applying it most efficiently and effectively. By approaching spraying this way, we leave less of a carbon footprint.”

Slimline’s Turbo-Mist sprayer systems are made for farms of all sizes, from small hobby farmers to massive vineyards requiring four hundred-gallon sprayers. Riddle told The Grapevine Magazine that no matter the size, Slimline tends to attract forward-thinking, progressive farmers.

When it comes to future trends, Riddle is most interested in the management of the sprayers through the use of a data loaded spray controller and GPS technology.

“It would be extremely useful to load a spray controller with information including GPS data to manage and disperse the gallons per acre needed depending on the agricultural needs, regardless of tractor speed or nozzle wear.

BDi Machinery Sales

Bill Reiss, owner of BDi Machinery Sales of Macungie, Pennsylvania, stresses the importance of quality, easy-to-use spray systems that assist wine growers while letting them do things their way.

“Whether growers prefer a high wire, vertical shoot or another canopy system, it’s all about the delivery of the chemistry [sic] to the intended target while using the smallest possible chemically loaded droplet,” says Reiss. “The canopy style the farmer chooses to use determines the correct spray head for the application. Our CIMA sprayer systems can be fitted with a multitude of available spray heads appropriate for a variety of crops. We pride ourselves in finding solutions to the needs of farmers in America.”

Reiss told The Grapevine Magazine that disease and insects are the most significant problems facing wine grape growers simply because wine grapes aren’t native to the U.S. “Wine grapes need to be treated and monitored, and it’s always better to spray early in the season rather than waiting and trying to eradicate a problem once it shows up. Effective coverage is critical, and it takes better delivery using minimal chemistry [sic], smaller droplets with less overspray to reach the target,” he said.

BDi Machinery sells the Italian-made CIMA sprayer line. These sprayers use an atomizer and air shear nozzle to push the dead air out of the canopy, ruffling leaves as it goes. This movement guarantees the chemicals will hit all surfaces outside and inside the canopy.

“We minimize overspray by opening and closing the atomizer which controls the width and reach of every dispersed droplet,” says Reiss. “Calibration is as simple as tightening or loosening a couple of wing screws on a regulator to get the needed orifice opening for the desired coverage. You can easily change the calibration from field to field, block to block, or season to season with little effort.”

Maintaining CIMA sprayers takes minimal effort, something Reiss feels is pivotal for busy farmers. “Sprayer maintenance needs to be easy, or it simply won’t get done,” he says. “Look for things like rinse tanks and minimal grease fittings. Our CIMA sprayers have only three grease fittings and include both hand rinsing tanks and internal chemical basket mixing systems for chemical safety.”

Electrostatic Sprayers Use Laws Of Attraction For Efficient Coverage

“Honestly, the most important thing about vineyard sprayers is that they need to be reliable and work when we need them to work,” says Mark Ryckman, Sales Manager and co-owner of Progressive Ag Inc., in Modesto, California. “They need to be durable and heavy duty but offered in a simple package so they last while proving easy to operate. Ours are heavily constructed and powder coated to increase their longevity.”

Progressive Ag manufactures indirect charging, electrostatic sprayers in several models. “We put a static charge in each droplet coming out of our machines. Plants and vegetation are neutral, so the droplets are naturally attracted to the plant. With each droplet having the same amount of charge on it, the drops repel and push against each other like some of those magnets we’ve all played with as kids. By pushing against each other, they naturally space themselves apart, making sure the vine coverage is consistent and even,” says Ryckman.“The chemical loaded droplets can be dispersed in larger volumes through larger than the normal pinhole size nozzles. By using larger sized nozzles, we don’t have the plugging issue that standard pinhole nozzles can have. The chemical is then dispersed through air induction instead of pressure sprayed so it can naturally land where the attractive properties of the charged particles take them.”

Maintaining Progressive Ag’s LectroBlast sprayers doesn’t take long, but should be completed daily. Ryckman told The Grapevine Magazine it requires only a five-minute daily greasing along with cleaning the electrodes and regular flushing to “have the sprayer work when you need it.”

Ryckman is excited about future technological trends such as variable rate controls for the spray rates. “Through the use of drones, we’ll be able to locate insect problems or disease and fungus issues in specific locations of the vineyard. We’ll map it out, load it in the controller, and then be able to automatically apply variable rates of material depending on the specific needs of each location, more on the high-risk areas, and less on the areas that are doing well.”

Like Ryckman, Willie Hartman, President and owner of On Target Spray Systems in Mount Angel, Oregon, sees the importance of incorporating computerized rate control programming built through GPS or wheel sensors. “It’s one of the things that customers are continually asking for. They are looking for data and the valuable coinciding reports.”

Hartman also sells electrostatic sprayers for the vineyard and says that, now, more than ever, “It’s vitally important to get a sprayer that provides super coverage. Keep mildew at bay early with complete coverage, over leaves, under the leaves, and wrapping around the plant vines themselves.”

On Target sprayers charge the droplets through induction, meaning the particles run through an atomizer for absolute universal size. They don’t pick up their charge until run through the dispersing nozzle, where they get hit with one thousand volts on the way toward their target.

“We use the least amount of water per acre of all the other types of sprayers right now. With labor costs rising, we can save money on water use immediately. Less overall material to spread means less time on the tractor, translating into fuel savings. By using less water, we can concentrate our spray. When you use concentrated spray, there is less runoff, minimal drift, and improved chemical coverage leading to increased performance. In today’s world, that is extremely important because, with the organic farming push, we’ve moved away from systemic treatments and are now relying on contact treatments,” Hartman says. “Improved concentrations and better overall contact are critical and successful. We know it works because of situations like last year when the East Coast had terrible disease and fungus issues except for the handful of farms that were using our sprayer systems.”

Hartman told The Grapevine Magazine the maintenance step not to overlook is rinsing the sprayer after use. On Target sprayers reflect this belief through onboard rinsing tanks accessible with a flip of the switch. Additionally, all components, including liquid, air and the twelve-volt electric needed for droplet charging are separately enclosed.

Mowers And Mulchers For Ground Level Care

Replacement part availability is magnified when considering agricultural mowers and mulchers simply because of the complexity of these machines.

“It’s a real issue at times,” says Kevin Pereira, sales professional with Woodland, California-based Clemens Vineyard Equipment Inc. “We get calls all the time about replacement parts for mowers and mulchers because growers can’t get the right parts in a timely fashion. Sometimes we can help, but other times we can’t because they bought a machine that may not have a physical presence or supply outlet here in the states.”

Pereira says growers can avoid these issues by buying from an equipment company like Clemens Vineyard Equipment. “We have a tremendous history of over twenty years, with excellent support and a United States warehouse for priority parts availability when needed.”

“Mowers are mowers, and when you get down to it, they all do the same job,” says Pereira, “but parts and available service are just as important as features and pricing. Cheapest isn’t always the best, and in the case of mowers and mulchers, you generally get what you pay for. Clemens mowers and mulchers are built for heavy-duty use featuring long-lasting plates and components, and a premium flex adjustability feature for variances in row lengths.”

Proper mowing and mulching protects roots, increases soil structure, reduces soil erosion and temperature, and increases the vigor and yield of crops. Approach mulching much like spraying chemicals, by formulating a mulch mixture to best suit the needs of the area. Sections of a vineyard that have less than desired growth may need mulches with higher nutrient components, while organic based mulches can assist with water dispersal in lower elevations.

Row mulchers and spreaders save time and labor by efficiently spreading mulch, organics, compost and other soil mixes within vineyards. Since they’re considered specialty equipment, it’s critical that they provide a return on investment. For multiple rows, side mulchers are equipped with either dual or single side dispersing, but if needed, mulchers are available with remote and distance spreading capabilities to get the mulch to the targeted location.

“The type of mower or mulcher you should get is tied to your needs. Do you need to mow weeds and mulch, or mow, mulch and prune? The type and amount of versatility you’re after will make a difference in the machine you need. They’re not all created equal, with some being better at certain functions than others,” Pereira says. “Find the happy medium that fits your budget and priorities, but whatever type you choose, regular maintenance is very important. Daily greasing and a quick visual inspection to spot any excessive wear on parts or components is recommended. Depending on the size of the acreage and amount of use, mower blades should be changed either annually or bi-annually. Bearing checks are always a good idea, and as should be done with all machinery, occasional professional inspections are a good idea.”

Specialty Tractors for the Vineyard

By Jessica Spengler

large vineyard equipment

As mechanization of vineyards becomes the norm throughout the world, equipment manufacturers have seen an opportunity to specialize. Tractors, in particular, are being designed to fit down the narrow rows of vineyards and orchards, as well as with higher horsepower, better versatility and ease-of-use. Now is the time for vineyards to re-invest in a new machine, since industry leaders, including John DeereKubota, and New Holland, all sell models specialized for vineyards and orchards. With a little research and guidance, vineyard owners and managers can easily find the best tractor for their specific needs.

Many wine growers may question why they need specialized equipment when they can just purchase a utility tractor for their farming needs. However, the needs of vineyard and orchards extend beyond those provided by standard utility tractors.

“Many producers have specific crops and specific planting which require special tractor dimensions to operate in those fields, orchards, or vineyards. Although a utility tractor might fit some of these requirements, there will usually be modifications required to make the tractor completely fit the application. Our specialty tractors are designed to fit into those specific applications. Our narrow tractors offer spacious narrow cabs to fit perfectly in vineyard applications along with higher hydraulic flow than a standard utility tractor to meet those specialty implement requirements.” said Tyler Pittson, Kubota M-Series tractors product manager.

Nick Weinrich, Product Marketing Manager for John Deere, said the grapes, in particular, are a significant concern. “Producers, no matter their operation, need a tractor to meet their specific farming practice from horsepower, capability, and fit. In the case of vineyards fit, from a dimension standpoint, is the main need. When talking about vineyards and any other high-value crops, the fruit is the most critical subject, since it can easily be damaged, bruised, or even knocked off the plant if the machines operating in the field come in contact with it. This turns into loss revenue to the producer,” he said.

Essential Feedback

Kubota and John Deere have both sought out feedback from vineyard and orchard managers to improve and design the best machines for their needs.

Kubota found horsepower, comfort and versatility to be a high priority. “Through dealer and customer feedback we have learned vineyard and orchard managers are looking for higher horsepower, more versatile tractors,” said Pittson. “We designed Kubota’s M4N/M5N models to meet their specific needs and harvest demands. Take a seat in any one of these new tractors check out the comfort and space of our cab, and you’ll understand why they stand out against the competition.”  Pittson.

The result was their M series line of tractors.

“The M Series models feature updated engines, intelligently revamped operator stations and improved hydraulics. The M Series specialty models also feature highly versatile transmissions designed to provide superior power and efficiency, for the most rigorous specialty environments. The M4N/M5N tractors are equipped with wet hydraulic clutches standard which improves durability, life, and reduces maintenance. The M4N/M5N narrow tractors deliver Kubota’s renowned M Series power and reliability in tractors engineered specifically for work in vineyards, orchards and other narrow environments,” Pittson told The Grapevine Magazine.

The Kubota M-Series Specialty Tractors Lineup includes the M4N-071, M5N-091, M5N-091 Power Krawler and M5N-111 narrow tractors; and the M5L-111 low profile tractor, the M6L-111 low profile tractor, and the M6H-101 high clearance tractor. The M4 and M5 models are equipped with Kubota’s V-3800 Tier IV engine and redesigned operator stations that enhance ergonomics and efficiency. The M5L-111 low profile tractor has standard shielding and a sloping hood to reduce crop damage.

“Another excellent model that we have is our M5N-091 Power Krawler which has wheels in front and tracks in the rear. This model offers superior traction and better stability than the standard wheeled version for those more performance demanding applications. The Power Krawler can be an essential tool for producers located in rocky and hilly areas,” Pittson said. For pricing and finance, visit your local dealer Kubota dealer.

Ease-of-use was at the top of many of John Deere’s customer’s lists of needs. “The largest hurdles producers are facing today is labor and uptime. They need tractors that work when they need them to, and John Deere has the best dealer network and parts availability to keep machines operating in critical times. To help with labor issues, John Deere manufactures tractors that are intuitive to a range of operator skill sets, as well as comfortable to operate to keep the labor coming back,” said Weinrich.

Years of experience and the time spent gaining insight into the needs of vineyards and orchards resulted in John Deere’s 5 Series.

“John Deere offers a variety of tractors that meet the need of narrow row/vineyards, from our six 5G models ranging from 75-100 horsepower, and then our narrow cab offering on our 5M and 5R models ranging from 75-125 horsepower. The 5G’s can get as narrow as 38.7” which is the narrowest offering in the NA market,” said Weinrich. “Vineyards stand to benefit from these by having a variety of offerings to meet their needs, most of which have the best maneuverability, turning radius, power, and hydraulic capacities in the industry, giving them the performance and productivity they need in the critical times, such as harvest.” Starting price for a base 5G 75 horsepower tractor is around $38,500 up to $58,000 for the 100 horsepower.

Getting Attached

The narrowness and ease-of-use of a tractor mean nothing if it cannot accommodate the implements needed to maintain a vineyard. Both John Deere’s 5 Series and Kubota’s M Series offer attachment capabilities for new and existing implements.

“The compatibility of implements with these tractors is high. Vineyards require a number of unique implements and attachments to maintain, manage, and harvest. Most of their current implements and attachments are compatible with our offerings. The 5Gs can have up to seven mid-SCV’s to attach implements and the highest hydraulic flow in the industry for these implements,” said Weinrich.

“The M Series specialty tractors have more hydraulic valve options, ready to accept implements requiring multiple valves with different flow requirements. The new models offer two self-canceling detent deluxe built-in flow control valves, with an option to add up to five total valves on the M4N/M5N. Each tractor features a Category II three-point hitch with easy adjust stabilizers to handle the wide range of specialty implements,” said Pittson.

Keeping Up With Technology

The newest technologies – from touch screens to remote access to guiding systems – have proven beneficial to growers of all shapes and sizes. John Deere, in particular, has embraced these systems, which feature prominently in their 5R series.

“At this time the 5R narrow cab is the most advanced utility tractor offering with integrated AutoTrac guidance and JDLink. Optional JDLink provides remote access for monitoring critical tractor systems and functions. Machine information and programmed custom alerts can prevent downtime by helping customers avoid equipment failures.   When JDLink is combined with Remote Display Access, producers can give their dealer remote access to the machine to troubleshoot potential problems, provide faster repairs or schedule routine maintenance. The 5M’s also offer a field installed JDLink option,” said Weinrich.

Kubota’s M-series includes a touch screen control panel, optional guidance system, and are designed to maximize the operator’s comfort.

“A redesigned cab on the M4N/M5N models features an updated dashboard with a multi-function, multi-view Intellipanel and LED cluster lighting,” said Pittson. “The M4N/M5N steering wheel has 40 degrees of tilt, making it easier to get in and out of the suspension seat. All of our specialty tractors are ergonomically designed, with all main controls located on the right side.  The narrow cabs feature’s a spacious cab, hydraulic shuttle, and an optional air ride seat. These tractors can also easily be fitted with Auto-Guidance systems and controls.”

Choosing Well

As mechanization grows in popularity, vineyard operators see greater efficiency, less fruit variability, happier, healthier workers, and a bigger bottom line. These benefits only occur, however, when the vineyard owner or manager chooses the right model for the size and needs of the vineyard. Knowing the land, doing the research, and talking to a reputable dealer will make that decision much easier.

Navigating the Minefield of Wine Advertising and Promotion

By Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

corporate man standing in bombs

One of the take-home messages from the State of the Industry address at this year’s Unified Wine and Grape Symposium was that per capita alcohol consumption is flat.  This means that the various sectors of the alcohol industry can only increase sales by re-dividing the pie in their favor.  Although wine and spirits are making headway at the expense of beer, new players in the space, such as hard seltzers and pre-mixed cocktails are carving out their own slices.

One of the areas where wine is losing market share is with millennials, who are adopting wine as their drink of choice at a slower pace than prior generations.  Winning in this sector, and others, will require strong marketing efforts.  But, advertising and promotion in the alcohol industry is a messy affair with wildly contradictory rules in different jurisdictions.

This article surveys the laws in several states, not to provide a complete picture as to allowable advertising practices in the wine industry; that would be impossible, but to highlight some of the issues and how differently they are addressed in different states.

Traditional Ads in Print and Digital Media, Radio, and Television

Generally, traditional ads in these types of media are allowed in most jurisdictions.  However, in the words of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, “there are a few provisos; a couple of quid pro quos.”  For example, in Texas, a winery cannot buy title sponsorship of “hotlines” from radio stations where listeners call to hear prerecorded list of events at retail locations.  In Virginia, advertisements in print or electronic media are permitted so long as they are not in publications primarily marketed to persons under the age of 21.  And, in Missouri, emergency legislation was passed in response to Missouri Broadcasters Association v. Taylor, expanding the definition of advertising to include electronic means of dissemination, though this legislation will expire on April 17, 2019 unless further action is taken.

Outdoor Advertisements

Typically, in states that allow the use of billboards for general purposes, they are allowed for alcoholic products, as well.  Maryland requires, however, that the ad specifically identify the supplier and not be for the benefit of a specific retailer.  Texas requires the supplier to get a permit for a billboard if it is within 200 feet of a retailer that sells the advertised product.

Texas also prohibits the use of an inflatable advertisement outside a retailer’s establishment and only allows them indoors if they are not visible from the outside.  Maryland allows the use of inflatables in parades and other functions as long as they not brought to permanent rest in front of a retailer premises.  However, they may be on or near retailer premises if promoting an event sponsored by the supplier and not intended to promote a particular retailer.

In Oregon, a winery may give exterior signage to a retailer, so long as it does not exceed 2,160 square inches in size.  In Virginia, however, a winery may not sell, rent, lend, buy for, or give to any retailer any outdoor alcoholic beverage advertising.In Texas, a winery may display a branded promotional vehicle inside or outside of a retail licensee’s establishment, but for no more than five hours per day.

Cooperative Advertising

In Oregon, a winery may list on its website the retailers carrying its products, but it must include all such retailers and may not include pricing information that would appear to promote one retailer over another.  In neighboring Washington State, wineries can not only list their retailers, but include links to their websites, as well.  The law is silent as to whether all retailers must be listed, but that would certainly be the safest practice.

In Virginia, a winery may not engage in any cooperative advertising on behalf of any retail licensee.  But, in Michigan, while a winery’s advertising material may not include the name of a retailer, it may include that of a wholesaler.  A winery may also pay the cost of painting a wholesaler’s trucks and may supply brand logo decals and advertising mats to the wholesaler at no cost.

Signage Inside Retail Establishment

Most jurisdictions will allow a winery to provide retailers with indoor signage, though paying directly or indirectly for sign location, floor space, shelf space, or other advertising space is a big no-no.  What a winery is allowed to provide, however, varies widely.  In Maryland, the value of any single advertising item may not exceed $150 and the total cost of all advertising at a particular retailer may not exceed $450 without authorization from the Comptroller, which may allow up to $600 on a case-by-case basis.

In Missouri, the total value of all permanent signage and point-of-sale materials given to a particular retailer may not exceed $500 per calendar year per brand, though the signage may include the name and address of the retailer.  In Virginia, a winery may only provide (either for free or for a cost) to a retailer non-illuminated advertising materials made of paper, cardboard, canvas, rubber, foam, or plastic that have a wholesale value of $40 or less per item.  And, in Michigan, a winery may only provide non-illuminated signage less than 3,500 square inches (unless in a sports/entertainment venue) and it may not include the name or address of the retailer.


In many jurisdictions, such as Missouri, Texas, Oregon, and California, a winery may not issue coupons for its products.  In Maryland and Virginia, however, coupons may be provided to consumers at the point of sale, through direct or electronic mail, or through print media.  The coupon must have a definite expiration date, require proof of purchase, and require purchaser to be 21 years old or older.  Virginia further requires that the coupon may not exceed 50% of the normal retail price of the item and must be redeemed via mail by the manufacturer or their designated agent, but not by the retailer or wholesaler.

Sweepstakes and Contests

Most states allow wineries to hold sweepstakes and contests.  Generally, in a sweepstakes, every entry has an equal chance of winning, whereas in a contest, the winner is determined by skill, knowledge, or ability rather than random selection.  In states that allow such events, several features are commonly required.  First, consumption of alcoholic beverages may not be an element of the game and alcoholic beverages may not be awarded as a prize, though in California, alcoholic beverages may be included if they are incidental to the total prize package.  Second, participants must be of legal drinking age.  Third, there must be a way to enter without purchase.

Some states have additional requirements.  For example, in Missouri, point-of-sale advertising is allowed only if no value is provided to the retailer for conducting the sweepstakes or contest.  In Texas, prizes cannot be awarded on the retailer’s premises.  In Maryland, proposals must be submitted to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau of the Comptroller of the Treasury in time to be approved at least 14 days before the start of the sweepstakes or contest.  Maryland also allows instant winner vouchers, but only if placed randomly in product packages and the retailer has no knowledge of the placement.

In Virginia and California, entry forms may be attached to removable neck hangers, but Virginia requires that they be offered to all retailers equally and each retailer must provide their consent for such materials, whereas California will allow them so long as there is no purchase required to enter.  California also allows codes to be affixed to the original label, container, or packaging that can be scanned by the consumer to enter.  Instant or immediate awarding of a prize is not permitted in California, but, like Maryland, instant notification that a consumer is a winner is allowed.


Perhaps the biggest discrepancies, and the most surprising, involve novelty items.  One of the most permissive jurisdictions is Missouri, where wineries may give shirts, hats, bottle openers, corkscrews, etc. to retailers for unconditional distribution to the public.  Even the $500 aggregate limitation on point-of-sale advertising does not apply to these items.

Virginia law draws several distinctions.  Items not in excess of $10 wholesale value may be given to retailers in quantities equal to the number of employees of the retailer present at the time the items are delivered; and the employees can wear or display the items thereafter.  Wineries and retailers may not give such items to customers unless they are participating in a tasting at the retailer’s premises.  Smaller items, such as napkins, placemats, and coasters may be provided to retailers only if they contain a message relating solely to and promoting moderation and responsible drinking.  They may contain the name, logo, and address of the winery, but only if subordinate to the message.  Finally, items such as glasses, napkins, and buckets may be sold to retailers, but the retailer must maintain records of such sales for two years.

In Maryland, promotional items such as paper cups, matches, brochures, napkins, calendars, etc. may be provided to retailers if the advertising is general in nature, does not identify a specific retailer, is provided in “trivial” quantities, and does not relieve the retailer of an ordinary business expense.  Hats, shirts, glassware, etc. must be sold to the retailer at fair market value.

Michigan allows wineries to give matchbooks and calendars directly to customers, if nothing else of value is included. The winery can only give calendars or matchbooks to a retailer for distribution to customers upon written order of the commission.  Nothing of value may be given to a customer.  Other novelty items bearing the winery’s advertising may be sold to retailers only with a written order from the Liquor Control Commission and may not be sold below cost.

Finally, Washington State allows wineries to provide branded promotional items of nominal value, such as lighters, coasters, napkins, clocks, mugs, glasses, bottle openers, corkscrews, hats, shirts, etc. to a retailer, but they must be: used exclusively by the retailer or its employees; include only the advertising matter of the winery and/or a professional sports team for which they have a license; and may not be provided by or through retailers to retail customers.


In a crowded market where every winery is competing against not only every other winery, but every brewery, distillery, meadery, cidery, and other alcoholic beverage supplier, good advertising and promotion is essential.  The issues highlighted in this article represent only a fraction of the issues surrounding the advertising and promotion of wine and do not provide a complete picture of those issues even within the jurisdictions mentioned.  Before engaging in any marketing campaign, it is imperative that a supplier know the laws and regulations affecting their plans.  Consultation with a knowledgeable attorney is always the best practice.

Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, an intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry.  He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation.


 (240) 308-8032

Grapevine Leafroll & Red Blotch Viruses Management Discussion at the Unified Symposium

By Judit Monis, Ph.D.

grape leaf showing red veins

Last January I attended the virus management session organized by the Unified Symposium in Sacramento, CA. Maher Al Rwahnih, James Stamp, Rick Hamman, and Eric Pooler were invited speakers.  While it is common sense that it is important to plant healthy vines to avoid the perpetration of viral diseases, we are learning that it is not that simple.  A couple of years ago we heard that even the most tested and best maintained foundation block in California is susceptible to becoming infected by viruses.  I will present my take on the different presentations and add my ideas on solving such important issues.

The Russell Ranch Foundation Block Virus Status

Maher Al Rwahnih from The University of California Foundation Plant Services (FPS) opened the session describing the discovery in 2017 of five vines infected with Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) in the Russell Ranch mother block.  The block was planted in 2010 and is the regulated by for the California Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Registration and Certification (R&C).  After completing a two-mile radius survey, researchers at FPS were able to trace the origin of the positive findings in the mother block to vines planted in a home backyard, a school yard, and a home garden center.  The vines from the outside source as well as the mother block selections were removed and destroyed as soon as the infections were confirmed.  Due to the seriousness of finding virus in their mother block, FPS decided to test annually all the plants in the CDFA R&C mother blocks for Grapevine leafroll virus associated -3 (GLRaV-3) and GRBV.  After completing the tests in 2018, FPS found 24 vines infected with GRBV and none infected with GLRaV-3.

To reduce the inoculum levels in the foundation block, all infected vines have been removed.  To control the spread of virus the FPS has devised a strategy that consists in monitored the blocks routinely for vectors (GRBV is transmitted by the Three-cornered alfalfa tree hopper and GLRaV-3 is transmitted by mealybugs and soft scale insects).  Additionally, preventative treatments are carried out with feeding deterrents and systemic and contact insecticides.  A survey of the block’s surrounding areas has been increased to a five-mile radius to find the original source of infection.  Moving forward all ordered selections will be tested individually for GRBV (Test to Order program) prior to distribution to assure that material has no detectable levels of virus.

Preventing the Introduction of Disease in the Vineyard

James Stamp, from James Stamp and Associates, voiced his concern on the difficulty of securing clean planting material and presented standards he applies prior to ordering vines for planting.  The mother plants must be tested and show no evidence of infection of GLRaV-3 and GRBV.  In addition, grafted vines need to display good physical characteristics.  In his opinion, a vine with a solid graft union is likely to have a lower incidence of fungal pathogens.

Similar to my advice, he recommends to work cooperatively with nursery personnel to obtain testing results and always perform independent sampling and testing.  The vines that are sampled from a nursery increase block should be marked so that if the results show no detectable levels of virus, cuttings can be collected for grafting.  He prefers “protocol 2010” vines (these are the vines that are planted in the Russell Ranch mother block described above).  However, he has had success with nurseries that propagate older vines from the “classic” U.C. Davis mother blocks.

It is best to choose a nursery that has adopted cleanliness standards (i.e., no dust, paved roads, etc.). It is recommended to visit the nursery increase blocks in the fall to observe typical symptoms (red leaves in red grape varieties) and be present when cuttings are being collected (those that were submitted to testing) to assure that these are used to fill the order.  It is advisable to keep in touch with the nursery personnel to make sure that the delivery of the order will be on time.  Generally, the nursery will graft more material than needed to make sure that the correct number of grafted vines are delivered – but it is best to be in touch to make sure this happens.  If vines are to be finished in the field, it is recommended to take samples and test them for GLRaV-3 and GRBV as these viruses can be transmitted in the field.

Stamp’s presentation concludes suggesting that consumers need to be educated and engaged to accept genetic engineered resistance.  He urges for the availability of more funding for research to apply CRISPR (a gene editing technology) for disease resistance development.  In his opinion, this will be the only way to fight diseases as he has given up that the certification programs will be able to keep viruses out of planting material.

The Economics of leafroll Disease and the Need to Prevent Virus Spread

Rick Hamman, a vineyard manager in Washington State focused on the economic impact viruses have on grape production (particularly leafroll viruses).  He stated that he has learned the lesson the hard way and refers to the loses due to virus infection as a “virus tax.”

In 2001 leafroll symptoms were noticed in a three-acre block and after testing it was found to be 100% infected with GLRaV-3. The vineyard was removed and replaced with “clean” planting stock.  However, in a short period of time the block became 85%. Infected.  This was due to the presence of mealybugs in the residual roots that were not carefully removed.  The speaker was able to calculate losses due to GLRaV 3 infection and these are significant. In 2010, the crop did not meet the required winery Brix value and represented a $500/ton loss.  This vineyard manager has experimented with rogueing material as symptoms appear in the vineyard block.  In Washington state, growers are able to burn the removed material but he admits that this may not be possible in other wine growing areas.  In one case, the virus presence and vine removal in the block was monitored by Naidu Rayapati’s research at Washington State University.  The study showed that by replacing infected vines with healthy stock the inoculum levels decreased each year and allowed to keep the block productive.  However, in other cases the removal of symptomatic vines was not as successful as the infection rate in the block continued to increase (perhaps due to spread of virus from infected vines not showing symptoms).

Eric Pooler from the Silverado Investment Management Co. is very familiar with viral infected block as the company manages vineyard blocks throughout California.  The company has worked very hard to monitor and control the life cycle of mealybug vectors that transmit leafroll viruses.  The speaker noted that it is Important to continue with insecticidal treatments after harvest and during dormancy as vector population will increase if they are not treated.  Just as important is to make sure to get full coverage of plants during insecticidal treatment.  The company has designed a modified sprayer that has many spray nozzles to assure the complete coverage of the vines with the insecticides. The speaker suggested that their personnel manages disease by increasing irrigation and /or the application of cytokines (plant growth hormones).  Their observation has been that a healthy canopy has correlated with better fruit set regardless of infection.  When it comes to planting a new vineyard, the company has developed a checklist of requirements prior to ordering vines from a nursery.


As a plant pathologist I recommend always planting healthy (pathogen tested) vines.  Since viruses, their vectors, and other grapevine pathogens can be present in the vineyard, growers need to be vigilant of pathogen spread and potential new infections.  For viruses, unfortunately the industry is focusing only in GLRaV-3 and GRBV exclusion.

However, I recommend to test for other leafroll viruses (GLRaV-1 through -4), Vitiviruses (Grapevine virus A = GVA, GVB, GVD, etc.), and Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV).  Presently, the crown gall causal agent (certain pathogenic strains of Agrobacterium vitis) and fungal pathogens are not regulated or excluded from certification programs.  However, these pathogens should also be kept in check as they cause important diseases.  The good news is that disease diagnostic assays have evolved to be able to be more sensitive and specific.  The application of next generation sequencing also known as high throughput sequencing will help reduce inoculum levels and consequently reduce infections in the vineyard.  Vineyard managers and growers must continue to be attentive of the infection status in their vineyards and their neighbor’s vineyards.  Coordinating insecticidal treatments and communicating openly on the presence of disease and vectors in vineyards is imperative.  We all must be reminded that it is possible to fight viral spread in the vineyards cooperatively.  Work performed in South Africa has shown a drastic area-wide reduction of leafroll virus with a simple but dedicated management strategy.  The heavy use of insecticidal treatment of mealybugs combined with complete removal of infected vines and replacement with virus tested vines was a success in reducing disease incidence In South African vineyards.

One question brought up by the audience was if it was necessary to have a fallow period after removing an entire vineyard.  In my opinion, the fallow period is needed to control leafroll viruses transmitted by mealybugs.  However, we are just learning about red blotch disease epidemiology and expect that in the coming years better disease management recommendations will be available to help keep foundation blocks and vineyards free of disease.  In the future I plan to contribute another article to expand with my recommendations for virus control in the vineyard to help growers manage disease.

Judit Monis, Ph.D. provides specialized services to help growers, vineyard managers, and nursery personnel avoid the propagation and transmission of disease caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their vineyard blocks.   Judit (based in California) is fluent in Spanish and is available to consult in all wine grape growing regions of the word.  Please visit juditmonis.com for information or contact juditmonis@yahoo.com to request a consulting session at your vineyard.

What is a Winemaker? (Part 2)

By Thomas J. Payette, Winemaking Consultant

man inspecting wine

(Part 1 Ran in the January-February 2019 Issue)

Cellar Logistics Coordinator

As winemakers work through the year they are always looking three, four, even eight months ahead.  The cellar picture continues to change as each new harvest “deposit” will lend toward how and what one may want to do with each lot of wine.  Will a reserve be made this year?  With these decisions become handling logistics in the cellar.  Each white wine will either stay in stainless or go to barrel for further aging.  How long will this take place and what rate of extraction will take place this year?  Will the fruit intensity, from this harvest, be able to handle the aging?  Cellars may have up to three or more vintages in them.  Each lot of wine may need to be racked and adjusted from time to time.  Barrels and vessels must be topped on a timely basis.  Bottling schedules need to be planned and often during the harvest months; however, bottlings during harvest are never actually desired.  Often it becomes necessary to push a ready wine toward bottle at this time for the additional tank space.  Sales will affect our cellar operations and once again has us re-dipping into our toolbox to see if we can shift to make the company achieve its goals.  That may ultimately be what it is all about: A great wine that fits the company’s goals and objectives.

Master Blender

Ahh yes – The battles have been fought in the field and the cellar.  The sounds of screaming pumps and the noisy echo rhythm of the cellar are behind us for now.  We are in our haven most people visualize our lives being like.  We are winemakers and this is what people perceive to be daily experiences for us.  This is a great time to review our successes and failures for the wines.  Honestly and blindly criticizing our own products and assembling them to fit our goals and objectives.  This could take several days and we look forward to it; yet, deep down, we all know too long in this environment and we will need some physical stimulation.  We focus tightly on what we have in the cellar, review the chemistries and quantities of each lot making sample blends while looking at sales forecasts, if generated.  Can we make a reserve?  An upper level gangbusters wine?  Do we have a potential label or name for this wine?  The options go on.

Investigator (CSI)

Many of us find ourselves either very pleased with a result and wanting to duplicate it by finding areas we want to change to help get better results.  From this stance we need data.  This data will be collected all throughout our career to be referenced, hopefully, to retrieve the right component that made certain lots olifactoryly and sensorially successful.  Few winemakers are able to kick back in a chair and recall each vintage, what was done, what worked and what did not.  Others rely and can potentially be more helpful to future winemakers if they identify, in a cellar journal or equivalent, what has been successful or not.

People Person

People that like wine generally like people.  They just seem to go together.  The realities of the business also bring the challenges of production making this social beverage.  Not every day is perfect for each individual in this panacea liquid beverage making.  A winemaker may need to be a diplomat with a customer that just did not care for that type of wine.  The wine is not flawed it was just not what the customer expected.  One needs to smooth this perception in most cases to keep loyalty with that customer.  The winemaker on, the same day, may also have an issue with a supplier over a product ordered four months ago that will not be received on time due to a holiday delay or a delay because of waiting to fill a container before departing the country of origin.  Then one must decide to ship a portion by airfreight perhaps just to keep the production on time.  This makes winemakers negotiators using every ounce of communication and people skills possible.  It is, no different in a winery environment.  People skills are needed in ones every day lives no matter what they do.

Marketing Guru

People perceive our jobs as the ultimate job and our products as the ultimate product.  We go to work everyday and make a product they, and we, like to consume.  The packaging is nice, it has romance, it tastes wonderful, and it has ancient history plus mystic.  If we visibly give anyone any other idea than what they perceive we have dropped our products desirability backwards a notch or two.  We must take every chance we get to reinforce and gain ground that our products are just as romantic as they want them to be and that we are just as relaxed and easy going as they perceive our jobs to be.  We can’t expose some of our daily setbacks because after all – it really is a perfect job.  Perception is everything!  It is a panacea!


Winemakers are often, in warmer climates, seen in shorts and boots cleanly dressed in the morning kicking rocks in the vineyard; yet, potentially splattered by red wine lees by noon from cellar work. We work in the cool when it is hot outside.  Yes, our stained hands often look as though we have been changing oil for the past five years, but we wear these with bashful confidence or as renegade warriors depending on our setting.  It has been said that winemakers make nearly 2000 decisions before a wine is completely made and in the bottle.  Some of us in the trenches may say more than 2000 decisions are made with today’s advances.  We are apprentice sculptures of liquid art. There are few arts that are grown, seen, smelled, touched, tasted, absorbed and mentally alter us, as an elixir, in a positive sense.  Besides, it is also a product that is healthy if consumed in moderation.

Outside of farming and being a fermentation specialist, winemakers have a very keen source of marketing in them.  We can, will, and do sell a lifestyle by how we make our living.  From outsider’s eyes we live a dream.  From the inside view we live a dream.  Deep down everybody wants to be a winemaker.  You can see it when you speak with them.  Live your dream and become a winemaker.  Improve your dream by improving your skills.

The future

There was a time farmers looked out over their fields with hopes their children would be able to move on from the farm to grander ambitions.  Now we look over our fields in hopes our children will be able to live the lifestyle we are able to.  Then as now, if we work hard, our children will have that opportunity!

Short course:

  • Farmer of great raw materials
  • Sculpture and crafter of liquid art
  • Balance the wineglass with the lab results – finesse
  • Marketing a lifestyle
  • Promoter of Panacea

Dedicated to:  Jacques Recht and Jacques Boissenot both apprentice’s of Emily Peynaud.  My honor to them as I have been able to apprentice / mentor under them. 

Thank you!

Trunk Diseases Confirmed in the Midwest, and Everywhere Grapes are Grown!!!

I am writing again about Grapevine Trunk Diseases (GTD) in the Midwest, following the article with Mike White (ISU extension viticulturist) published in this magazine in September-October 2018. In that article we raised the question as to whether the commonly seen “winter kill” symptoms of dead cordons and spurs, and poor budbreak, may be mis-diagnosed in the region, as they also correspond to common GTD fungi symptoms. I raised this with some “old hands” in the industry, and they laughed at the suggestion. I hope this article might cause them to reconsider (but probably not).

We have two developments to report. Firstly, there has been quite some activity in testing of samples, much of it by Mike. Initially this was by local diagnostic laboratories, but there was concern with apparently inconsistent and negative results which caused us to send samples further afield. We have been concerned about test results for some samples which may lead growers to believe that there is no problem. However, as we have discovered some testing procedures are more reliable than others. This problem is not unique to samples from the Midwest, as Richard has also had problems with some samples from California tested in different laboratories.

GTD Fungi Isolated in Iowa

The following is a list of fungi and one bacterium which have been diagnosed in samples from Iowa, provided by Mike:

  1. Botryosphaeria dothidea (“Bot”)
  2. Crown Gall (Agrobacterium vitis, a bacterium)
  3. Cytospora viticola (associated with trunk disease)
  4. Diatrylpella species. (associated with Eutypa, a major trunk disease)
  5. Eutypa species including Eutypa lata
  6. Phaeoacremonium species. (associated with Young Esca (Petri Disease)

Phaeoacremonium minimum

  1. Phomopsis species (associated with foliar, cane, fruit and trunk disease)
  2. Seimatosporium species. (associated with Dead Arm Disease)
  3. Pestalatiopsis (foliage, fruit and trunk disease)
  4. Phaeomoniella species. (associated with Young Esca – Petri Disease)

Phaeomoniella chlamydospora

  1. Diaporthe species (Phomopsis)
  2. Stereum species (typically saprophytic feeding on dead wood)

In fact, as more samples are properly tested, it is likely there will be found other fungi. It would appear from this limited experience that Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing as is carried out by some Californian laboratories is the more reliable method. Many samples will have multiple infections.

The attached figures show the vine appearance of three samples analysed in California. Concord samples which showed internal streaking and necrosis (dead tissue), centered on the pith, and necrosis associated with cankers. The sample contained four fungi, Eutypa spp., Phomopsis spp., Phaeoachremonium minimum and Phaeomoniella chlamydospore, see Figure 1.

Figure 1

Similarly Marechal Foch yielded Eutypa spp.,Diatrypella spp. and Phaeomoniella minimum, see Figure 2.

The last sample to be discussed was especially interesting, being Vitis riparia from the wild, harvested at Indianola, Iowa, from a creek bottom. Mike and I on our travels together had found suspicious staining in several wild vines, here was some confirmation. The sample showed necrosis and streaking, and some dark tar-like deposits, and white rot in the center. The diagnosis was for Phaeomoniella minimaPhaeoachremonium chlamydospora and Botryosphaeria dothidea, see Figure 3. There may be some implications for new varieties bred from Riparia parents re GTD susceptibility.

The Riparia was to be the first confirmation of Botryosphaeria in Iowa. In my tour with Mike last summer, I often spoke of “Bot” in a general sense as being the likely cause of some symptoms we saw. I should have been more careful. Botryosphaeria symptoms are like those of other GTD, but in particular those of Phomopsis. This finding in Riparia was interesting from other points of view. Was Botryosphaeria present in wild vines before present grapevine plantings were introduced? Whatever the answer to that question, wild vines may constitute a reservoir of spores for infection of adjacent vineyards. Of course, other native plant species may be infected is as well.

Outstanding Webinar on GTD by World Expert Dr. José Ramón Úrbez Torres of British Columbia 

This webinar was held Tuesday, December 11, and organized by Dr. Tim Martinson of Cornell University. Around 300 persons registered for the event, indicating a heightened awareness and interest, especially in cold winter climate regions. The webinar lasting a little over an hour is now posted on the Northern Grapes Project website for viewing. If you have unexplained dead or unhealthy vines in your vineyard, we suggest that you watch it here: https://northerngrapesproject.org/

The seminar was very comprehensive. It began by describing the many species of fungi now known to be involved in grapevine trunk disease, and described how they are spread, both between and in vineyards. The seminar concluded by presenting a range of methods of protecting vineyards from GTD.

GTDs are caused by a group of fungi of different genera and species, and they often occur as mixed infections. The fungi have in common a typically insidious nature when pathogenic on grapevines. For some diseases, there are no conspicuous foliar symptoms, and the first a grower may know of the problem is spur then cordon then vine death. Unfortunately, by the time the first vine dies, many others can be already infected and they will gradually die unless the problem is treated. But treatment must commence early if the vines are to be saved. So, it is very important to recognise early disease symptoms in just a few vines where they exist.

Grapevine trunk diseases can affect and kill vineyards of many ages. Some deaths may even be recorded in the year of planting, and, typically as the vineyard ages, more and more vines die. For growers concerned with vineyard profitability this is an issue; some vineyards in some parts of the world are being replanted at 20 years of age due to trunk disease. Unfortunately, vines delivered to growers from nurseries may be already infected with grapevine trunk diseases. This is a worldwide problem, and research shows that it can be involved with the bench grafting process, but even own rooted vines may be infected, as can occur in the Midwest.

Vigilant growers should inspect nursery stock for staining within the stem. It is normally particularly evident at the base of the rootstock cutting and in the graft union. The webinar was excellent for showing a full range of symptoms in both young and old vines, including many sections across the trunk. Sometimes fungi will be resident within young vines without causing problems; however, it is known that when the vines experience any stress that these fungi will become pathogenic and will affect the growth of the vine and eventually kill it. Severe winter temperatures are known as an important stress. In fact, as was emphasized in the article referred to above, the common death of cordon and spurs which is typically called “winter injury” may in fact sometimes be due to trunk disease.

There has been much more concern globally about GTD since 2000 even though there are reports that the diseases had been present for a long time, and some of the early research has been forgotten. For example, the roles of Phomopsis in trunk disease was shown by early research at Geneva New York in 1909 and again more recently with Eutypa in several Eastern states from the 1970s onwards. In France it has been declared that “wood diseases are a national crisis responsible for 12% of French vineyards being non-productive”. So, while some might think trunk diseases are new, they are not, but there is clear evidence that they are becoming more of a problem worldwide.

 What to do about trunk disease? They can be controlled using a range of management techniques. In regions of cold winters there is evidence that early pruning may be more effective, whereas the opposite is the case in California for example where late pruning in the dry part of the spring helps to prevent spread.

It is imperative to protect pruning wounds, and fortunately a range of fungicides are available in the USA although not in Canada. There is certainly a need for local research in places with very cold winters as to how these may be applied in freezing temperatures. For larger vineyards in other regions using a modified vineyard sprayer is becoming popular. Protection of pruning and other wounds is the first line of defence against GTD, and likely in the majority of Midwest and Eastern vineyards this is not now practiced, which may change if GTDs are found to be a widespread problem.

The second line of defence against trunk disease is trunk renewal. This is now practiced of course to overcome “winter injury”, and thankfully at the same time can be protective against trunk disease. Provided the trunk is renewed from below the level of staining in the trunk, then the vine may be rejuvenated and is free of disease.


Growers in the Midwest and Eastern states have not been concerned as they might about trunk diseases, probably because some symptoms have been thought due to winter injury. Yet as was declared in the webinar, GTD occur everywhere in the world where grapes are grown! At the earliest signs of disease/poor health we encourage growers to take sections of the trunk and look for staining. If any is found, a lab confirmation should be sought.

I urge all growers, advisers and nurserymen to watch this webinar. It is an hour very well spent and may give you a new perspective on your vineyard and its health and profitability.

Are You Protecting What You’ve Worked so Hard to Build?

Picture it – clearing the fields, row mapping, proper drainage, all those plantings – and – your first yield. You have come so far to get to where you are today! Countless hours, lots of hard work and now you really have something – your pride and joy. But now that you’ve come so far and you’re more established, your risks are more significant and there is just so much more to lose. Are you proactively working to protect what you’ve worked so hard to build?

Winter is generally a quieter time and is a good time to identify potential risks that could pose a threat to your business. This can mean many different things to winemakers. For some this refers to risk management and insurance. Others don’t see the need for risk management because they don’t believe their business is very dangerous. And yet others see risk management as focusing on avoiding or eliminating all threats. This isn’t very realistic as it evades the many inherent desirable chances that must be taken to succeed in your business. As an experienced winery owner, you know you are presented with a unique blend of growing and evolving concerns – all of which have to be managed to varying degrees.

Risk management is a way to address the perils you face. You can do this by developing a practical plan to identify, deal with and minimize the adverse effects of the unexpected on your winery business, if or when it happens. In effect, risk management is about forward planning. You can start this forward planning for your own winery by looking inward and asking a few simple questions:

  • “What could go wrong?”
  • “Why are you worried about it?”
  • “What will you do about it?’”
  • “How will you pay for it?”

Now that spring is soon approaching and the frost is about to melt, it’s a good time to go through the process of asking these inward questions to help determine if your winery is ready for the busy season. Doing this will give you the comfort of knowing that you’re better prepared to protect all that you’ve worked so hard to build. Some of the areas you may want to review include:

Your Insurance Program

Wineries are complex businesses that face a wide variety of risks ranging from crop damage, equipment breakdown, fire and even unanticipated incidents that could be financially devastating – just to mention a few. It is important that you insure all aspects of your business and work with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage for all of the risks of your multifaceted and ever changing business.  Changes in your exposures can include the addition of a new tasting room, adding prepared meals to a menu, a concert series or the addition of facility rentals for weddings and corporate events.

Going over your plans with your agent can help eliminate gaps in coverage.  Coverages are available for a range of losses beyond traditional perils.  These include covering wine leakage due to operator error, wine contamination and adulteration, and cyber liability.  Also, don’t forget to find coverage for property damage to your trellis, grapevines and grapes.  Do you have a wine cave?  If so, ensure you are covered for below grade structures.

Updates to an auto schedule or drivers list should be reviewed, as well as the property and equipment limits.  Note that while the buildings may appreciate in value, a lot of equipment general depreciates in value and should be adjusted regularly.  Open communication with your agent about your operations is essential so that there are no surprises for you or them, when your insurance is called to respond.

Good Housekeeping

Take a good look around your premises. Is everything in order? Does it look spick-and-span? Keeping everything at your facility neat and orderly is essential. Maintaining an on-going focus on good housekeeping helps prevent fires and injuries to employees or guests. Routine housekeeping is a win-win scenario – it helps to reduce hazards and creates a well-organized work environment and a satisfying atmosphere.  Check things now and have a plan that regularly monitors:

Buildings and Facilities

  • Exteriors:
    •      Walks, steps, lawns, trees & shrubs, lighting
    •      Check that pallets, rubbish and firewood are stacked away from your buildings.
  • Parking Lots:
    •      Traffic flow, security, lighting, cameras,  pedestrians, weather.
  • Roof Concerns:
    •      Drains, gutters, downspouts, HVAC, age, flashing, access.
  • Entries, Halls and Passageways:
    •    Weather, slip & fall, lighting, security, stairwells, egress.
  • Offices:
    •      Egress, ergonomics, storage, trips & falls, security, cyber risks.
  • Utility & Storage:
    •     Chemicals, other hazards, fire prevention, storage, age.


You may be out looking for new equipment at the many upcoming trade shows.  It is important that a qualified electrician has verified that your building electrical system is adequate for any new machinery or appliances.  This is especially true in older or converted buildings.

Have you taken a close look at what you currently own?  Clean your equipment to remove any dirt, grease or other buildup. Once clean, inspect for any needed repairs. Make sure your equipment is in working order.  According to FEMA’s National Fire Data Center, electrical failures and malfunctions contributed to 21 percent of nonconfined nonresidential fires.  Check for frayed, browned, or otherwise damaged electrical cords.

Make sure any machinery moving parts are properly guarded. Lubricate, polish, adjust, realign and calibrate individual parts so that you will get the performance you need during peak season. Your preparation efforts during these colder days will be time well-invested.

Fire Safety

Fire losses tend to be a major concern for wineries and a crucial safety issue for everyone in the business. By taking some precautions, you can better protect your premises and your employees will be better prepared if a fire starts. Some fire safety areas to review:

Fire Safety in Rural Areas

1   Often result in larger losses because:

  • Fires aren’t generally noticed as quickly.
  • Fire department response times can be longer.
  • Water supplies aren’t always adequate.
  • Road conditions may be less than ideal.

2   Talk with your local fire department:

  • Do you have signage that can quickly direct emergency vehicles to your property?
  • Can emergency response vehicles easily get to your facility?
  • Do you have a sufficient water supply?
  • Can the fire department easily gain access to this water supply?

Fire Extinguishers

1   Unintended fires are more likely to happen during normal working hours

2   Fire extinguishers are good first defense against these fires.

  • Have your extinguishers been installed by an approved contractor?
  • Have your employees been trained in their use?
  • Are they mounted on approved brackets?
  • Are they clearly marked, easy to locate and easily accessible?
  • Do your employees regularly check them?
  • Are they annually inspected by your approved contractor and serviced as needed?

Fire Drills and Evacuation Procedures

1   Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is important to protecting people and property.

  • Do you regularly conduct drills so that employees know what to do if you need to evacuate?
  • Do you routinely check evacuations routes (exits, doors, exit paths, etc.) to make sure that there are no obstructions?


1   Simply put, smoking can lead to fires.

  • Do you have a smoking policy?
  • Is this included in employee orientation?
  • Are visitors given instructions when they sign-in?
  • Have you clearly indicated designated smoking area(s)?
  • Is there signage?
  • Are smoking areas equipped with ash trays and fire extinguishers?
  • Are they separated from burnable materials?

Trash and Wooden Pallets

1   It is very important that rubbish and wooden pallets are not stored against or near your buildings. If by chance a fire starts, these can accelerate the fire and threaten the safety or your building(s).

2   To reduce your  risk of these kinds of fires:

  • Store these items away from your buildings.
  • Store trash in metal containers with self-closing lids.
  • Arrange for weekly trash service to reduce the amount of accumulation.

Safety and Health

How well is your safety program doing? A single claim has the potential to not only cause serious pain and suffering to one of your employees, it could also seriously impact your business financially. How often do safety incidents arise on your premises? How have you dealt with them in the past? Have you been successful? What regulations are applicable?

Your safety and health program is an important aspect of your business. Protecting your workers is important to your winery. Make sure you have a written safety program and write it so that it is easy for everyone to understand. Did you include?

  • New employee / job orientation and on-going training.
  • Routine inspections to insure hazards / unsafe practices are identified.
  • Investigations of incidents to make sure they don’t happen again.
  • Procedures in writing so your workers know how to safely perform the tasks expected of them.
  • Regular meetings to discuss safety concerns – your workers need to know safety is important.
  • Safety Data Sheets for any hazardous chemicals and training for proper use of those chemicals.
  • First aid provisions to effectively treat individuals.
  • Personal protective equipment as needed with the training to use it properly.
  • Emergency response procedures to address issues such as fires, chemical spills, explosions or natural disasters so that your employees know how to effectively respond.

Protecting your workers is vital to the success of your operations; now is a great time to make sure your safety program is up to this task.


Security in your winery is also an important consideration. Whether big or small, your winery should be secure. It can help deter sabotage, unlawful entry and protect your physical assets when your facility is unoccupied. Security can also provide a safer environment for your employees.

Early intruder detection discourages burglary and destruction and permits an organized and rapid response when your system is activated. To best achieve early detection of an intruder, consider installing a combination of recognition devices all through your facility. A number of varied sensors are possible:

  • Sensors that detect vibrations.
  • Sensors that detect broken glass.
  • Sensors that detect movement.
  • Sensors connected to doors and windows and detect unauthorized openings.

Some Other Security Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Do you have security guards or video monitors?
  • Do you have secure locks on doors and windows?
  • Are your valuables stored in a high quality, leading brand safe?
  • Is your safe securely and permanently attached to your building?

It is important to work with someone trained in the careful selection and configuration of security and detection devices suited to your needs and physical setting. Configuring all of these devices into a coordinated control panel will help enhance your system’s ability to detect intruders and minimize unwarranted false alarms.


Many winery operators are not aware of the many risks within their business and the impact they could have on their ability to stay in business. By taking some time before the busy season begins, you can better protect your operations and be more prepared to address many of the concerns associated with wineries.