Lake County Winegrape Commission Awarded Grant Supporting Pruning School

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The Lake County Winegrape Commission announces it secured a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to fund Lake County Pruning School over multiple growing seasons. The grant is part of the 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) and will provide funding to the Commission to deliver Lake County Pruning School for three seasons, thus providing the region’s vineyard leaders with long-term education on sustainable viticultural techniques.

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Lake County Winegrape Commission awarded grant supporting pruning school. Ph. Credits Nathan DeHart

The Lake County Winegrape Commission announces it secured a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to fund Lake County Pruning School over multiple growing seasons. The grant is part of the 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) and will provide funding to the Commission to deliver Lake County Pruning School for three seasons, thus providing the region’s vineyard leaders with long-term education on sustainable viticultural techniques.

With this grant funding, the Lake County Winegrape Commission will be able to deliver intensive pruning training to up to 315 participants in both English and Spanish. In addition to the in-the-vineyard instructional classes, the grant-funded program also includes in-person seminars for Lake County Pruning School (LCPS) participants and the region’s winegrowers to recap the methods, monitor vine progress, and hear testimonials from growers and winemakers.

Lake County is the first winegrowing region to host a collective project with Simonit & Sirch – the renowned grapevine master pruners – addressing an entire region instead of a single property as well as providing a bilingual approach, addressing both English and Spanish-speaking workers.

“We are so excited to be the first regional organization to collaborate with Simonit & Sirch,” says Commission President Debra Sommerfield. “Lake County Pruning School builds on our growers’ commitment to quality and sustainability, and this grant funding will enable us to educate even more winegrowers over multiple years.”

The pruning school, which launches at the beginning of December 2022, comprises a theoretical introductory online lesson and three days of practical hands-on lessons in the vineyard — two days during the winter for vine pruning and one day during the spring for shoot thinning. The program provides in-depth fundamental principles applicable to all grapevine training systems, such as controlled branching, vascular flow, cuts and crown buds, and protective spare wood.

“No matter how much you know about vineyard work, there are always new techniques or tricks of the trade that you can learn,” said Tony Medina, vineyard foreman at Cache Creek Vineyards. “I’m always eager to learn more and further hone my skills in the vineyard. The Lake County Pruning School will let me do that in my own backyard. Can’t wait to start.”

Named for a volcanic caldera lake centered on the Clear Lake Volcanic Field, Lake County features some of the youngest volcanic soils in California. Lake County’s volcanic soils, along with high-elevation vineyards, dry climate, noticeable diurnal range, and extensive sustainable farming makes it a valuable source of high-quality grapes. Healthy grapes with thick skin, structured tannins, and phenolic richness are the elements that are steadily increasing the reputation of the region. The pruning school aims to foster quality even further.

For more information, please visit https://www.lakecountywinegrape.org/news-events/events/lake-county-pruning-school/

Funding for Lake County Pruning School was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM22SCBPCA1133. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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About Lake County Winegrape Commission
Established in 1991, the Lake County Winegrape Commission has been instrumental in developing the Lake County region’s unwavering commitment to farming high-quality wine grapes, promoting the winegrowers’ brand, and creating greater awareness of the winegrowing region within the wine trade and among wine lovers. A state agency with efforts focused on marketing, research, and education, the Commission has launched innovative programs like Master Vigneron Academy®, the Elevation of Wine, and the International Sauvignon Blanc Symposium. For more information, visit https://www.lakecountywinegrape.org

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