May 22, 2015
Catfish Vineyard, Kelsey Bench District AVA.              Photo by Nathan De Hart
A Message from the Commission President...

As the unpredictable spring weather conditions continue, we are happy to report our exclusive Lake County Rising Fly-In Trade Event last week was a success. Together with key industry partners, we hosted 16 carefully chosen industry guests - sommeliers, distributors, retail/restaurant wine buyers, and media - to experience our wine region. They tasted the breadth of quality, style, and price points of a new generation of Lake County wines curated and presented by industry-recognized sommeliers and enjoyed expertly prepared, locally sourced meals. Many thanks to Josiah Baldivino of Bay Grape, Kelli White and Scott Brenner of PRESS, Chef Louis Maldonado of Spoonbar, and the teams at Vigilance Vineyard, Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, Beckstoffer Vineyards, Tallman Hotel, Blue Wing Saloon, Chic Le Chef, and Lake Event & Design for partnering to put on such a high-caliber event.

And in early May, the Lake County Winegrape Commission Board of Directors seated three recently elected board members. Please join me in welcoming Keith Brandt and Bruce Merrilees as our two newest board members and thanking incumbent David Weiss for his willingness to serve another term.

On behalf of the LCWC Board and all Lake County winegrowers, I also would like to thank Peter Molnar for his leadership, dedication, and vision as LCWC Chair for the past six years as he wraps up his fourth term. We are thrilled he will continue to remain engaged in LCWC's work by serving on the LCWC's Marketing Committee. We also are indebted to Buz Dereniuk for his invaluable service on the Board and as LCWC's Finance Chair.

In This Issue
From left: David Weiss, Keith Brandt and Bruce Merrilees
                                                                                              Photo by Nathan De Hart

Winegrape Commission Seats Board Members


At its meeting in early May, the Lake County Winegrape Commission board of directors seated three recently elected directors who are looking to advance Lake County's wine industry through increased local involvement, expanded sustainable winegrape growing, and renewed energy. 


Two new directors, Keith Brandt and Bruce Merrilees, joined incumbent David Weiss in taking their seats on the board, which comprises eight directors, seven of whom are Lake County winegrape growers elected by other eligible growers, and one a public member, appointed by the board chair. Ballots are tallied by a third-party auditing firm with election results certified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Directors serve two-year terms.


Other directors include Jonathan Walters, Brassfield Estate Winery; Broc Zoller, Zoller Vineyards; Bill Oldham, Oldham Vineyards; Bonnie Sears, Beckstoffer Vineyards; and Bill Brunetti, public member. The board also elected its officers for the coming year with Walters serving as Commission Chair, Zoller as Vice Chair, and Sears as Secretary-Treasurer.


The recently seated directors bring experience and perspectives to help the Commission in its work to represent Lake County winegrape growers in its marketing of the region's winegrapes. 


Merrilees is interested in "getting the locals involved." Formerly with Bella Vista Farming Company and now with Shannon Stahl Vineyards, the New Zealand native moved to the United States in 2003. Merrilees said his goal is to reach out to Lake County residents and businesses to get them involved in the county's wine industry. "I feel like the county can't fail if the locals are on board with it," he said.


He pointed to his local and international education and experience as assets he brings to the Commission board. Merrilees holds a bachelor's degree in Agriculture Science from Lincoln University, New Zealand.


Brandt, citing his experience as director of compliance with Shannon Ranches, said his goal for his term on the board is to assist the county's growers in their pursuit of certification of sustainable winegrowing. He said he would like to encourage winegrape growers to become certified sustainable as another step toward improvement of wine quality for Lake County. 


"I'd like to spark an interest in sustainable winegrowing among our small-acreage growers," Brandt said. "It would go a long way to propel the quality and the perception of quality of winegrapes in Lake County." Brandt holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management from CSU Fullerton.


Weiss cites the strengths of the Commission and his desire to build on the organization's 24-year history of advancing the industry as his main reasons for continuing to serve.


"My personal priority will be to assist in the recruitment and development of prospective candidates to one day join the board and reinvigorate the organization with new ideas and energy that will sustain us into the future," Weiss said.


Weiss' agricultural leadership runs deep, having served on the Commission board in many roles, most recently as its vice chair, and as a former board member of the California Association of Winegrape Growers for six years and board chairman of the California Pear Advisory Board for seven years. Weiss holds a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University.


The two new directors take seats previously held by Peter Molnar who served the maximum of four consecutive terms and Buz Dereniuk who did not seek another term.


The Lake County Winegrape Commission is a marketing order established in 1991 to promote the region's premium winegrapes and to assist winegrape growers through marketing, research, and educational programs. For more information about the Lake County Winegrape Commission, call (707) 279-2633, or visit


Guests, winemakers and growers gather at Vigilance Winery & Vineyards prior to a tasting of Lake County white wines.           Photo by Nathan De Hart

Lake County Winegrape Commission Showcases Region at Lake County Rising Fly-in Trade Event


The Lake County Winegrape Commission (LCWC) today announced a successful trade event intended to bring greater awareness to the region's winegrape growers and wineries. The event took place May 14 and May 15 and included media writers, wine distributors, retailers and restaurant sommeliers. Guests participated in an immersive experience that included a tour of several distinguished vineyards, two extensive tastings with multiple flights showcasing Lake County-appellated wines and a presentation that examined the unique character, breadth and quality of Lake County winegrapes and wines. 

Check Out One of the Articles Resulting From 
Lake County Rising Fly-In Event

Liza The Wine Chick Reports from the Lake County Rising Fly-In Trade Event ...

Sierra Club Presents Forum on Sustainable Viticulture

Sierra Club Lake Group is sponsoring a forum on sustainable practices in viticulture. The forum is slated for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at the Lower Lake Methodist Church Community Room, 16255 Second Street, Lower Lake.

Panelists include Erica Lundquist from the Mendocino County Natural Resources Conservation Services, Christian Ahlmann (Six Sigma), Tracey Hawkins (Hawk & Horse), Randy Krag (Beckstoffer Vineyards), and Thurston Williams (Clover Creek Family Farm).

The discussion is expected to be far-ranging, with subjects including an overview of best management practices, creative ways to integrate animal husbandry with vineyard management, organic and biodynamic practices, and water use.

The meeting is free and open to the public. For details, contact Sierra Club Lake Group Chair Ed Robey at (707) 994-8304 or by email,  
[email protected].

Sustainability Education Tools and News


Wine Institute has released new tools for understanding and communicating about California sustainable wine growing.


The California Sustainable Winegrowing Ambassador Course is a new, one-hour certificate class that provides education about sustainable winegrowing practices. The free, online course helps wine professionals, such as retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, media, winery sales, marketing, public relations and hospitality staff, learn and test their understanding of sustainable practices of California wineries and vineyards. Those who successfully complete the course receive a certificate that can be downloaded and shared. 
Top Four Myths of the California Drought

Pervasive myths about water use continue to circulate in the media. Help separate myth from fact with this post from the Northern California Water Association.
SSU's Wine Business Institute Presents Online Courses

Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute recently presented two courses in Kelseyville and is presenting the following online certificate programs starting soon. 

QuickBooks Certificate: 
This is an eight-week online certificate course that began on May 13 and is taught by Jeanette Tan, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. 

Wine Business Management Online Certificate 
This program is taught in three consecutive levels and covers the full spectrum of business aspects influencing both domestic and global wine markets. The next Foundation level course begins Sept. 2.

Weather Information Services Available

A variety of weather information services are available via the Internet at no extra charge to Lake County winegrape growers.  To access the Lake County weather forecast and data from the automated weather stations in and around the county, go to .  

To receive the daily forecast via email, contact Western Weather Group at (530) 342-1700 or [email protected], or contact the Lake County Winegrape Commission.

To view the latest weather observations from the automated weather stations, using a Smartphone or PC, visit . 


The latest weather station information can also be viewed in a map format on a Smartphone or PC using the URL

Historical data from the weather stations can be accessed on the Lake County web page listed above by clicking on the "Weather Database" link. Satellite, radar and links to other weather information can also be found on the web page.

Allied Press Newsletter Published Allied Grape Grower logo

Allied Grape Growers has released their most recent "Allied Press" newsletter publication, Acreage Update, written for the growers and customers of Allied.  The newsletter may be viewed and/or printed by going to:

Affiliate Sponsor:

Vineyard Concepts


Vineyard Concepts, owned and operated by Stephen Collum, is a company that specializes in consulting, management and development of all vineyard phases. 


It recently branched out into consulting for producing premium wine grapes in drought conditions. 


Collum established Vineyard Concepts in 1991. His focus is primarily in bringing owner, site, wine grape variety, and winemaker together to produce award-winning wines. He has found that taking the time to walk with owners through their proposed sites ensures an understanding to complete the vision to create a vineyard with meaning. The company has grown significantly since 1991, now managing over 300 acres in California and expanding its services throughout the United States.


One of the newest innovations from Vineyard Concepts is the "Concept Cover," a protection for wine grapes.


Crediting Collum with an ability to come up with innovations that can benefit the wine industry, company intern Elissa Holdener says she collaborated with him in the development of the "Concept Cover." This cover protects fruit during transportation from vineyard to winery. The duo created the cover to keep the sun's rays off wine grapes and keep them cool while being transported or waiting to be processed. The Concept Cover has also proven to keep out insects and harmful bacteria. Vineyard Concepts is using the covers for itself and is in the process of distributing them to the industry throughout the world. 


Collum and his wife Cindy live in Calaveras County where they grow Sangiovese grapes and Collum operates Vineyard Concepts. He may be contacted by email, [email protected], or phone, (209) 743-2773. Additional information about Vineyard Concepts may be found on the company's website,, or Facebook page,


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