Posts Tagged: Glenn McGourty
The lengthy article was written in honor of UC Cooperative Extension's 100th anniversary. The organization was formed on May 8, 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law.
For the story, Franson interviewed Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and several UCCE advisors who work in Northern California viticulture. Allen-Diaz noted agriculture's wide scope in the Golden State.
“We farm 400 commodities in California with a value of $45 billion,” Allen-Diaz said. UC Ag and Natural Resources focuses on healthy food systems, healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy Californians.
Rhonda Smith, a UCCE advisor in Sonoma County, said she has seen many changes since she started in 1986.
"In early days, most growers were small, independent farmers," Now most of the people Smith works with are employees of large corporations, many multinational.
In the early days, farm advisors dealt with multiple crops, and the viticultural work and research was primarily focused on improving the culture of vines. Things soon changed. “Increasingly, the trials were associated with grapevine pests, especially exotic pests,” Smith said.
Monica Cooper, UCCE viticulture advisor since April 2009, walked into a big problem when she took her job: the European grapevine moth. She also conducts research with mealybugs and leafroll virus and believes red botch virus and water issues to be important concerns for winegrape growers in the near future.
Glenn McGourty, UCCE advisor in Mendocino County, agrees.
“I’ve been telling growers that they need to learn to farm without irrigation,” McGourty said.
"We kind of wish every year could be like that. There was enough water, practically no frost protection needed, and no mold, mildew or rot on the fruit," he said. McGourty told reporter Justine Frederickson he usually finds growers to be pessimistic when they begin harvest, but that wasn't the case in 2012. "I even saw one of them break into a smile," he said.
This winter, the grapevines have been enjoying a much-deserved slumber, particularly with the recent cold snap.
"They like it," McGourty said of the frigid temperatures, adding that the prolonged cold weather in the Ukiah Valley the first half of January is not likely to cause damage.
"The vines are pretty tough," McGourty said. "They can take a lot of cold, and they can go underwater for weeks (without problems), unless there's any foliage."
wine for sale
Nearly 200 growers, vintners, retailers, sommeliers and other tradespeople attended a workshop on biodynamic winemaking Dec. 2, prompting San Francisco Examiner wine blogger Annette Hanami to suggest the process is becoming mainstream.
"Ultimately, biodynamic wines are becoming mainstream because consumers demand it," the author wrote. "Biodynamic products are becoming less 'kooky' and more attractive than the scarier mass-produced alternatives."
Biodynamic farming is a method of organic production that the involves the use of fermented herbal and mineral "preparations" as compost additives and field sprays, and the use of an astronomical sowing and planting calendar.
With stores like Walmart now selling organic produce and products made with organic ingredients, being “sustainable” and “green” are no longer enough to distinguish a producer in a competitive global market, Hamini wrote.
Currently, there are 75 California wine producers who are certified biodynamic or in transition; the growth rate is 15 percent per year.
UC Cooperative Extension involvement in a biodynamic farming workshop Dec. 2 in Napa has been met with criticism from a local vintner who believes the farming system is a hoax, according to a story in the Napa Valley Register.
The article said Stu Smith, the co-owner of Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery, is “shocked and outraged” that UC Cooperative Extension is co-sponsoring a “Shortcourse in Biodynamic Winegrowing.”
Smith, who earned a master’s degree in enology and viticulture at UC Davis, said that UCCE should participate only if it’s a balanced and comparative event.
Cooper said she will discuss scientifically validated IPM techniques, and has no control over what other presenters say.
“It is our responsibility as UC farm advisors to represent the scientific community at a variety of venues, and to ensure that we are presenting information on scientifically validated processes," Cooper was quoted.
McGourty has conducted some research on biodynamic farming practices. Writer Paul Franson reported that, according to McGourty, such farming systems "are well documented to improve soil quality, grow productive crops, reduce the need for petrochemical inputs, recycle farm byproducts in a safe and effective way, and provide a gentler footprint on nature compared to some practices used by conventional growers.”
Franson also quoted assistant director of UC Ag and Natural Resources News and Information Outreach Pam Kan-Rice.
"The University of California doesn’t ‘promote’ any particular way of farming, it supports sustainable farming systems,” Kan-Rice was quoted.
UC supports sustainable farming systems.
Like many business sectors, the California premium wine industry is suffering under the weak economy, according to an article published over the weekend in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
Wine produced in Napa and Sonoma counties used to be cheap alternatives to French wines. Now connoisseurs are turning to less expensive wines from Australia, South America and California's Central Valley.
UC Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor Glenn McGourty told reporter Glenda Anderson that he believes consumers will return to North Coast wines when the economy improves.
“Lodi is kind of like the person you go out with that's really hot but you don't want your parents to see them,” he was quoted.
The story opened with the travails of McDowell Valley Vineyards of Hopland, which is facing possible foreclosure Nov. 5. McGourty said the McDowell situation is not unique.
“A lot of people are on the ropes,” he was quoted.
Wineries are cutting back on how much they buy and the prices they'll pay for grapes.
The McDowell vineyard reported that the value of its premium winegrapes has dropped from $1,400 a ton to about $700 a ton. A winery offered to buy 32 tons of McDowell sauvignon blanc at $600 a ton. In Lodi, winegrapes average about $500 a ton, the story said.
The wine market decline is putting some people out of business.