Effort to elevate prestige of Solano County wine grapes nears key stage

A yearslong bid by wine grape growers in western Solano County to better distinguish their grapes as truly being part of the prestigious North Coast appellation may be close to reality.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture on Friday announced a public hearing set for Aug. 11 in Sacramento on a proposed rulemaking action that would shift the boundaries of grape crush districts 5 and 17. If approved, the eastern boundary of District 5 would be shifted slightly west to exclude Ryer Island, part of the Sacramento River Delta and a source for higher-volume, lower-priced grapes similar to those grown in District 17 (Clarksburg).

These districts are part of a statewide system of tracking where grapes are grown and crushed to make wine and other products, and the tonnage and pricing benchmarks are used in grape purchase contract negotiations.

“It is the next step in a long, long process, but one that is very close to finish line,” said Roger King, treasurer of Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association, on Monday.

The trade group in August 2019 petitioned the department for the change. The agency held an informal hearing that December and the following May started the regulatory process to consider the boundary.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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