Vineyard Resource Guide
Prepared by Sonoma County Winegrape Commission
There are many rules, laws and regulations governing agriculture today, including grape growing – from worker safety to how and where you can farm.
Here is a list of major local, state and federal government agencies that are involved in one way or another in your farming enterprise. (Warning – please note that this is in no way a complete list and that the rules change frequently.)
Planning And Development
Zoning – Any zoning questions should be directed to the County Permit & Resource Management Department at (707) 565-1900.
Vineyard Development – Development of any vineyard now requires registration with the Agricultural Commissioner's Office. For further information, call (707) 565-2371.
UC Cooperative Extension – The Santa Rosa office can furnish advice and offer free and priced publications such as "Sample Costs to Develop and Produce a Vineyard in Sonoma County," "Rootstocks and Phylloxera," a list of nearby commercial laboratories, and a raft of many other UC publications in the agricultural field. The office is located at 133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 109, Santa Rosa. The phone number is (707) 565-2621.
Santa Rosa Junior College – There are excellent viticulture and enology courses at SRJC. For more information, phone the Agriculture Department at (707) 527-4408.
Farm Construction – There is a special fast-track approval permit process to build barns, other farm buildings and farm workers’ housing units, if you qualify. Contact the County Permit & Resource Management Department at (707) 565-1900.
Ponds, etc. – Grading permits must be obtained from the County Permit & Resource Management Department at (707) 565-1900.
Grading and/or Encroachment Permits – Where grading and/or encroachment permits are required for vineyard access roads, contact also the County Permit & Resource Management Department at (707) 565-1900. (Proposed roads within a vineyard may require a grading permit and proposed vineyard roads that access a county road will require an encroachment permit.)
Tree Removal - If oak tree removal is planned, contact Permit & Resource Management Department at (707) 565-1900. For permits for any other tree removal for a commercial venture (i.e. a vineyard), contact the California Department of Forestry at (707) 576-2275.
Fish and Game – Many activities along streams and rivers and other habitat areas are now controlled by the California Department of Fish and Game. For information, call (707) 944-5500.
Wetlands and Stream Alteration – Contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jane Hicks, at (415) 977-8439, for clarification of wetlands designation and to do any stream alterations, including bridges or bank slope protection.
Erosion Control and Water Quality – The State Water Quality Control Board through its North Coast Region office at (707) 576-2220 also handles issues of erosion control, water quality and pollution.
Rootstocks – To assist in rootstock planting and replanting decisions, the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission has produced a Rootstock Survey Database available on computer disks. Cost is $55. Contact Ginger Baker of SCWC at (707) 522-5864.
Organic Farming – To register as an organic farmer, there is a registration packet available at the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at (707) 565-2371.
Vineyard Diseases and Pests – Phone your UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor (Rhonda Smith) at (707) 565-2621. Another useful source is the UC publication "Grape Pest Management" ($70 plus tax) available through the Cooperative Extension Office. Also, for identification of grape pests, contact the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at (707) 565-2371.
Pesticide Applications and Enforcement – The Agricultural Commissioner enforces the California Department of Pesticide regulations and the California Department of Food and Agriculture Code relating to pesticides. Pesticide permits and identification numbers are issued at the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at (707) 565-2371. This office also provides employee information for handling pesticides.
Birds – If you want to control migratory birds feeding on your grapes, contact the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s office at (707) 565-2371. Wildlife services are also available to control damage to vines by feral pigs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, etc. Rodent control bait is also available through this office.
Other Agricultural Commissioner Services – For handling quarantine requirements for grape vines imported from outside Sonoma County, phone (707) 565-2371. Also, for hazardous materials requirements, phone (707) 565-2371.
Agricultural Burning – Check with your county or local fire district about rules and obtaining a permit. Or you can phone Agricultural Burn Information at 565-BURN of the County Air Pollution Control District. The Agricultural Commissioner can also issue permits for disease situations involving production agriculture.
Trucks – For questions relating to laws and regulations governing trucks (in particular combinations over 40 feet), phone the Commercial Officer at Rohnert Park CHP office (707) 588-1400.
Third Party Wine Grape Inspection – The California Department of Food and Agriculture reminds you that when purchasing grapes for wine, provisions of the Food and Agriculture Code require that, when the percentage of soluble solids (sugar content) affects the purchase price, inspection is required by the Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture or the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner at (707) 565 2371.
Research and Manuals – Some grant monies also provide outreach and funding for projects. For information contact Southern Sonoma County Resource Conservation District at (707) 794-8692. Also available is the publication: "Vineyard Management Practices: An Environmental Approach to Development and Maintenance." Other RCDs are: Sotoyome RCD at (707) 569-1448 and Gold Ridge RCD at (707) 823-3037.
The Human Side
Posting and Notice Requirements – Many state and federal employment laws require employers to post specific notices, posters and information in conspicuous places. Sources for these requirements are the agencies themselves, the Sonoma County Farm Bureaus (707) 544-5575, or Farm Employers Labor Service (FELS) in Sacramento (800) 753-9073.
Cal/OHSA – Are you ready for an OHSA audit in the following areas: written Injury and Illness Prevention Program, required OHSA poster, etc. If not, phone (707) 576-2388 for an update.
Hours and Wages – Recently, an audit team combed the records of several vineyard operations to determine if they complied with wage and hour laws. To make sure your house is in order, phone the State Labor Commissioner at (916) 979-2040 or at the federal level (415) 557-7878.
Immigration and Naturalization Service – The INS number in San Francisco is (415) 705-4411.
Odds And Ends
Grape Crush Report – Published annually by the State Department of Food and Agriculture, phone (916) 498-5177 to order. The final grape report includes all grape tonnage crushed and purchased, including prices, during the previous year. The Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner also prepares an annual report on the agricultural products of Sonoma County by category and variety.
Weather – Twice-daily weather forecasts, including rain and frost warnings, are available to grower members of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. For information concerning membership in SCWC, call (707) 522-5864.
Environmental Protection Agency – the North Bay Permit Assistance Center can be reached at (707) 565-2481.
Help Department – The SCWC semi-monthly newsletter carries the names of individuals and firms who provide advertised specialized services to the viticultural community. To receive this newsletter, join the SCWC by calling (707) 522-5864.
Other public resources in Sonoma County include:
• USDA - California Natural Resource Conservation Services: (707) 794-1242; http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/
Farm Service Agency: (707) 664-8593
Service Center Directory: (707) 794-1242
• IPM & Organic Production
The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, with grant support from US EPA and USDA SARE, conducts programs in Integrated Pest Management and organic grape production. SCWC will conduct monthly meetings from April - July on IPM at each of the four vineyard sites to discuss how to reduce pesticide use and substitute reduced risk pest management materials for traditional pest control chemicals. The Organic Producers Group will also meet monthly from April - July. Please contact (707) 206-0603 to request information on this project.
The Commission greatly appreciates our Commission Sponsors who invest in Commission programs to support their grower customers and who participate in our tradeshows. Patronize our Commission Sponsor businesses when you need products and services for your vineyard operations. They can be found in the sponsor section.