Mitigating Losses with Winery Partners

© Sarah Anne Risk

Working with Winery Partners to Mitigate Risk and Losses Due to Disaster

Step-by-Step Instructions


It's an incredibly challenging time for both growers and wineries to be making harvest decisions. COVID-19, fires, and smoke/ash exposure have created the most unpredictable conditions we have seen in a lifetime

Communication is key. Growers must not be put in a position to assume all of this year's risk, and wineries may not be able to absorb all losses. Strong grower and winery partnerships will not only benefit the industry now during difficult times, but also in years to come.

NVG has created resources for negotiation strategies for this harvest. Consider the following:

  • Vineyard and winery mitigation techniques
  • Price adjustments
  • Uncertain legal standing of contract cancellations 
  • Crop insurance and disaster relief limitations
  • Farm worker and winery workers' lost wages
  • Maintaining relationships for the future

Below you will find step-by-step instructions for working together to mitigate risk and losses due to disaster, as well as in-the-field and winery mitigation techniques for minimizing risks related to smoke and ash exposure. 


1. COMMUNICATE EARLY AND OFTEN WITH WINERY/PURCHASER

  • Propose possible vineyard and winery mitigation strategies
  • Propose a unified approach to mitigate risk and potential losses due to smoke exposure
  • Inform winery/purchaser that crop insurance will not cover losses without lab test results indicating smoke taint
  • Document testing protocols and share results
  • Request formal documentation from winery/purchaser if fruit is refused


2. TALKING POINTS FOR DISCUSSION WITH WINERY/PURCHASER

  • We are in this together and let's work together
  • Sensory evaluation can be done in tandem with lab testing but not instead of lab testing
  • Crop insurance will only cover losses if lab tests indicate smoke taint, but even this will not cover vineyard labor and operations costs during harvest
  • Disaster assistance in not yet available to cover loss of grape sales due to smoke taint
  • It is important for growers and wineries to work together through disaster to sustain long-term relationships
  • Dropping contracts has lasting impacts on the whole industry


3. IF YOU HAVE CROP INSURANCE, CALL YOUR AGENT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR POLICY

  • Even with testing delays, getting your samples into the queue before harvesting is essential; use the protocols and resources for sample testing listed below
  • Even if lab results have not shown indicators of smoke taint up until this point, future lab results could help you qualify; KEEP TESTING
  • When eligible for insurance, use the RMA actuarial tool to understand how much crop insurance will cover in Napa County


4. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CROP INSURANCE, REVIEW DISASTER ASSISTANCE OPTIONS

  • Continue to check NVG's Disaster Assistance Page
  • Seek assistance from your local NRCS representative - Evelyn Denzin (707-690-3126)
  • Follow sample testing protocols and consider freezing samples for future use per the protocols and resources listed below



RESOURCES


NVG Step-by-Step Resources


UC Davis & West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force (WCSETF) Protocols & Resources for Smoke Exposure


Guidance from Insurers


Winery & Vineyard Mitigation Strategies


Contact NVG staff with additional questions: mwilliams@napagrowers.org