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The grape state of California


Last updated 12/6/2018 at 11:23am

Last week the Assembly Select Committee on Wine and also the Governmental Organization Committee met in San Diego to discuss issues facing California’s wine industry.

The bipartisan committees heard from local vintners, the San Diego County Vintners Association, the Wine Institute, the Association of African-American Vintners and the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. Discussions ranged from complex interstate commerce issues, legal matters, regulations and enforcement, to tariffs, the impacts of Brexit and the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Since many committee members hail from wine growing regions in Northern California, I was very happy to help represent the interests of our local wine industry. After all, wine is a big deal down here in San Diego and SW Riverside.

Take Temecula for instance. Temecula’s first commercial vineyard was planted in 1968. Temecula Valley’s 40-plus licensed wineries produce more than 500,000 cases annually, on vineyards covering over 2,400 acres. Due to its unique geography, cool, moderate and warm-climate varieties thrive in the Temecula Valley, including Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache. Overall, Riverside County vineyards produced 1,746 tons of wine grapes in 2016, with an annual regional economic impact of $78 million.

San Diego County has a well-established history in the wine industry. The first vineyards in California were planted by the Friars at Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769. In 2017, 1,210 acres were harvested by the county’s 115 wineries, producing 2,783 tons of grapes. Leading local varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Grenache. Our local wine industry generated a $50 million regional economic impact in 2017, up from just over $30 million in 2016.

With 90 percent of the nation’s wine exports originating in California, we must do all we can to make sure our region’s vineyards continue to thrive.


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