Category: California Wine Issues

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Sonoma County Rejects Wine Industry Request for Voice in Groundwater Regulations

This blog post was co-authored by Stoel Rives attorneys Wes Miliband and Eric Skanchy. Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), California’s landmark groundwater legislation, local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”) must be formed to assess conditions in their local water basins and to develop locally-based groundwater sustainability plans (“GSPs”). GSAs, which must be formed by June … Continue Reading

California Expands Overtime for Farmworkers

The following is an adaptation by my colleague Tony DeCristoforo of a post by Bryan Hawkins, Kirk Maag and Adam Belzberg that originally appeared on Stoel Rives World of Employment blog. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 1066, which will require grape growers and other agricultural employers in California to pay overtime under the same … Continue Reading

Rebuilding: Dealing with or Without Earthquake Insurance

The following post was written by my colleagues Tom Woods, Parissa Ebrahimzadeh & Bao Vu As part of the Northern California business community and as an advisor to business, we support the Napa and the surrounding Bay Area in getting homes and businesses back on their feet following the August 24, 2014 Napa Valley earthquake. … Continue Reading

TTB Will Consider Penalty Waivers for Late Payment of Excise Taxes By Businesses Impacted by Northern California Earthquake

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a notice yesterday stating that it will consider waiving – on a case-by-case basis – late filing, payment or deposit penalties for taxpayers unable to file payment of Federal excise taxes due to the August 24, 2014, Northern California earthquake. Text of the statement follows … Continue Reading

Why California Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries Need to Know About California’s New Industrial Storm Water Permit

My colleagues Ryan Waterman and Parissa Ebrahimzadeh have evaluated the potential impacts of the new California industrial storm water permit on breweries, distilleries, and wineries in the state.  See below for their report. On April 1, 2014, the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) unanimously adopted a new Industrial Storm Water permit (2014 … Continue Reading

New California General Industrial Storm Water Permit Slated For Adoption on April 1, 2014 May Hold Surprises for California’s Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries

Today, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) released for public comment its Draft Industrial Storm Water Permit and supporting documents. This is the fourth (and likely final) version of the Draft Industrial Storm Water Permit, which is designed to replace the existing Industrial Storm Water Permit issued in 1997. The Draft Industrial Storm … Continue Reading

Tasting Rooms Not Restaurants Says California Appeals Court

In a recent 3-0 decision, a California Appeals Court sided with Freemark Abbey Winery in its attempt to move its wine store and tasting room into a building in St. Helena which already contained a restaurant. The decision reversed the district courts granting of a preliminary injunction which would have stopped Freemark’s move entirely until … Continue Reading

Stoel Rives Holds California Wine Seminar

On March 8 and 9, Stoel Rives cosponsored, with Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, the 6th Annual Best Practices for Owning and Operating a Winery, held in Napa, CA. The well attended event covered such topics as valuation, water, energy, and branding. Stoel attorney’s Chris Hermann, John McKinsey, and Jake Storms were all panel speakers with John McKinsey … Continue Reading

TTB Publishes Notice of Rulemaking for Inwood Valley AVA

On December 5, 2011, the TTB published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice No. 125) regarding the establishment of the Inwood Valley Viticultural Area in Shasta, California. If established, the new AVA would consist of a 28,000 acre area, the vast majority of which is currently not dedicated to, or known for, vineyards. The TTB … Continue Reading

TTB Rules to Expand Sonoma AVAs

On Wednesday November 16, the TTB published a ruling (T.D. TTB-97, available here) amending the federal definition of the Russian River Valley viticultural area and the Northern Sonoma viticultural area, by expanding each. The action first began in August of 2008 when Gallo Family Vineyards submitted a petition for the amendment. After receiving numerous comments both … Continue Reading

Court Upholds San Diego County’s Winery Ordinance

On April 15th, a California Superior Court Judge denied a challenge to San Diego County’s new Winery Ordinance. The Ordinance, passed in 2010 and available here, eases restrictions on tasting rooms and sales for smaller producers and allows others to essentially “fast-track” registration as a “small winery” with such designation allowing for pre-approved events, such … Continue Reading

California State Water Board Moves on Frost Protection Program

The State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”) held a workshop last week on a proposed regulation designed to assess and mitigate water use from the Russian River by growers in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties during frost season. Though no formal action took place, the Board received numerous comments on the proposed regulation. The regulation would … Continue Reading

Stoel Rives Attorneys Speak at Wine Conference

This past week, Stoel Rives partners Chris Hermann and John McKinsey and associate Jake Storms all participated as panel speakers at the Best Practices for Owning and Operating a Winery conference, held at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, CA. John also acted as co-host of the conference, which covered a wide variety of … Continue Reading

Napa County Farm Bureau Holds Water Forum

On March 9th, the Napa County Farm Bureau held its first water forum in five or six years in St. Helena, California. Kicked off by Bureau President Jim Lincoln, the event was well attended, with over 100 concerned stakeholders listening to the most recent updates in California water issues. Phillip Miller, the Deputy Director of … Continue Reading

Sonoma Sets Fees, Program Schedule for Frost Protection Program

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has adopted the final measures for moving ahead with the County’s Frost Protection Program (the “Program”). This final act was merely a carry-over from the February 8 meeting where the Board adopted the fee structure for the Program and extended the time frame for implementation of the Program until 2012. … Continue Reading

Renewable Electricity and Wine – A Perfect Pairing

     While wineries and vineyards have long been moving toward being “green,” several have taken the next step by installing renewable energy generation onsite. One of the most recent is August Cellars, just outside Newberg, Oregon. The winery recently installed a 150-foot-tall, 50-kilowatt wind turbine. August Cellars maneuvered around the somewhat prohibitive cost of the … Continue Reading

Conjunctive Labeling Comes to Sonoma County

               With the turn of the calendar and after nearly a year of political wrangling, conjunctive labeling will be the norm for Sonoma County wineries beginning in 2014. Passed by unanimous vote in both the state assembly and senate in August and signed by Governor Schwartzenegger at the end of September, AB 1798 will require … Continue Reading

New California Law Streamlines Instructional Tasting Licenses

          On the list of California laws affecting the wine industry in the New Year is AB 605 – the Instructional Tasting Events License. Introduced in 2009 and signed into law September 23, 2010, AB 605 adds to the Business and Professions Code sections 23396.6 and 25503.56. The additions allow the ABC to issue a … Continue Reading

SONOMA COUNTY VOTES ON FROST PROTECTION PLAN FOR VINEYARDS

On Tuesday, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance creating a plan designed to protect both vineyard frost protection measures and endangered species in the Russian River. After nearly a year of negotiations, the Board added Section 11B to the County Code, creating a registration program for grapegrowers and plan to assess … Continue Reading
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