When I began working with Suisun Valley, some 14 years ago, I was taken to one section of a vineyard, where Napa Valley crosses over into Suisun Valley. I was shown the northern part of the road (Napa Valley side) and was told the grapes from the same contiguous vineyard were selling for $3,000 a ton. Then, I was shown the southern part of the road (Suisun Valley side) and was told the grapes from that same contiguous vineyard were selling for $300 a ton. How can people get away with this, which is certainly not fair to the growers, their families, and their valley?

[A photo I took years ago; and for the sake of privacy, this is NOT the location; however, it’s very close to it.]

By doing something about it… Finding the red tape, and then cutting one’s way through it. Let me give you a simile… Sleeping Beauty was just beyond the thickets, all Prince Charming had to do was cut through it. Ever try to get through blackberry bushes? Aha… Now you’ve got it.

Our Prince Charming in this case is Roger King, former president of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers and Vintners Association. He retired after so many years as their board leader, like 14 years since they began and just stepped down. But, he didn’t go take a nap. He’s been very busy. With the onslaught of some pretty big guys moving in Suisun Valley (the best kept secret since the 1800s), critical items – in order to maintain an equitable lifestyle – have just been on a back burner.

The Prince is cutting through the thicket, ladies and gentlemen, to get to the castle, at last. From a press release:

First Petition in 30+ years to amend California Grape Pricing District Boundary

Suisun Valley, Fairfield, California: The Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association has formally requested California Department of Food and Agriculture to petition for amendment to boundary definition of Grape Pricing District 5 (aka crush district), in eastern Solano County.  The effort is being filed on behalf of the Association by Roger King, Chairman, Growers Committee.

The last such amendment to California Administrative Code Title 3 Chapter 2 Article 1 Section 1700 was dated July 24th, 1985.  It involved District 17, which will also be involved in this amendment request.

The Clare Berryhill Grape Crush Report Act of 1976 set in motion today’s current price discovery reporting system, for achieved grape pricing averages each year across the State of California, now subdivided into 17 Districts.  Price discovery is often used for future grape contracting or contract resets, as well as factors into crop insurance considerations and some financial institution asset valuation.

The grape and wine industry has changed significantly over these decades and the initial Grape Pricing District count of 11 has morphed to 17 as the industry advanced.  That evolution continues with this approach to amend the boundary of District 5 in the Ryer Island region (Sacramento River) of Solano County thus moving the region into District 17 to establish fairness in price discovery for producers and processors.

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Roger has thoroughly prepared documents that support his case. I look forward to seeing this group slaying through the bureaucratic thickets.