CA Wildfire Resources   

California has become all too familiar with wildfires and the immediate and lasting impacts they have on vineyards, winery operations, and communities around the state. CAWG has compiled a list of resources detailing safety and training measures, risks to winegrapes, and assistance options.

West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force's Smoke Summit (June 7, 2023)
This year’s summit featured prominent researchers sharing their insights and recent discoveries on the impacts of wildfire smoke, updates from the USDA Agricultural Research Service on their research activities and future initiatives, and the latest information regarding crop insurance policies and revisions specifically addressing smoke-related concerns.


Allied Grape Growers and CAWG Webinar (July 16, 2021): 2020 Grape Rejections and Contracts
On Friday, July 16, Allied Grape Growers and the California Association of Winegrape Growers hosted a 90 minute webinar to review and discuss findings and conclusions from a report titled, A Legal Analysis: 2020 Winegrape Rejections. The webinar features John Aguirre, president of California Association of Winegrape Growers; Jeff Bitter, president of Allied Grape Growers; Ashley Boulton, partner, Downey Brand, LLP; and, Dale Stern, partner, Downey Brand, LLP.


A Legal Analysis: 2020 Winegrape Rejections
A report released by Allied Grape Growers (AGG) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers analyzes various grape transactions in 2020 that resulted in rejections or severe price discounts due to alleged quality problems associated with wildfire smoke. Prepared by Downey Brand, LLP of Sacramento, the report examines how these transactions comport with prevailing contract terms, review the applicable law and potential liability of wineries that rejected winegrapes, and provides guidance to growers on how they might protect themselves in the future.

View copy of report  

CAWG Wildfire and Smoke Exposure Events Webinar

In a growing season defined by unprecedented challenges and unpredictability, 2020 has thrown California grape growers yet another curveball. A surprise late-summer storm system spawned a series of wildfires in many areas of the state that present a new set of risks and challenges.

On Wednesday, August 26th, CAWG hosted a webinar to take an in-depth look at what smoke exposure may mean for the winegrape crop and how to best manage risks that growers may encounter.

Topics and presenters included:
Smoke Exposure and Risks to Grape Quality
Alisa Jacobson, Joel Gott Wines and Anita Oberholster, Ph.D., UC Davis

Winegrape Contracts – Smoke Exposure Language
Dale Stern of Downey Brand, LLP

Crop Insurance Claims

Greg Merrill and Kristine Fox of Pan American Insurance Services


In the crop insurance session, it was discussed that samples are required to be sent to a third-party lab and will need to show elevated levels of guaiacol and 4-methylguaiacol for the claim.  The required testing method mentioned was from a fresh berry test and Pan American advised that growers discuss with their adjusters any additional testing to supplement the berry test. Due to the information provided by Dr. Oberholster regarding the bound chemicals being revealed in the fermentation process, Pan American is happy to share that carriers may now potentially accept the mini-ferment test results from a third-party lab to supplement, or in place of the berry testing. Again, you must talk with your insurance carrier to determine their preferred method.  Crop insurance carriers will do everything they can to work with growers through their claim and provide the proper guidance to assure no steps are missed.


You do not need your test results back prior to starting your harvest, the samples just need to be sent in to a third-party lab prior to harvest.

Worker Safety and Air Quality
Michael Miiller, CAWG’s Director of Government Relations and Marco Figueroa, Pan American Insurance Services

PDF of Presentations - Supporting Documents
*This webinar recording is intended for CAWG members, you will need your user credentials to access this information. If you need your credentials, please email [email protected]

Additional Documents Created by the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force:
· Grape Sampling Protocol for Growers  
· Micro-Fermentation Protocol   

The West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force is also working on
preparing a paper, which will be widely distributed, to assist growers’ understanding of how to use crop insurance to protect against smoke exposure risks and successfully navigate the claims process. Every year growers face a critically important decision about whether to purchase crop insurance and how much coverage to obtain. We believe this document will prove useful to growers in California, Oregon and Washington. We anticipate that document will be available by mid-September.

The task force will also soon release a ‘road map’ that will serve as a guide to encourage timely and effective communication between growers and wineries to address shared concerns related to smoke exposure. We are working on that document and it should be released soon.

Winegrape Contracts
Oct 9. Webinar - Smoke Exposure & Winegrape Contracts
Contracts and Enforcement Webinar   - Force Majeure Language
*More information to come!

Additional Resources: