Independent Grape Growers - Paso Robles Area
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The 2017 Season in Review

The 2017 Season in Review

The fall is the time of change for grape growers in the Paso Robles Area. Grapes are harvested. Grape vines with vigorous canopies only a month ago are now losing leaves and going to sleep. It is time to invoice your wineries and hope they pay quickly, so you can pay your bills. Hopefully, in a few weeks you can relax and maybe even take a vacation.

You know that in a few short months you will be right back at it, worrying about frost, Powdery Mildew sprays, do I need a new purchase agreement, should I buy crop insurance, when do I start irrigation’s and many more things that make grape growing challenging and exciting.

But, before we rush ahead, let’s review the 2017 season. One of the biggest events of the 2016 (fall) and 2017 (winter and spring) was that we FINALLY got an average amount of rain in the Paso area and some areas, especially on the Westside, more than usual. This amount of rain was beneficial in many ways. It leached accumulated salts out of the root zone, and this lead to decent canopy growth for the first time in years. This caused other problems later in the season, but more about that later.

The rainfall did cause a few issues, namely later spring growth of cover crops and/or weeds in between the rows. This growth interfered with frost protection practices, i.e mowing, but I heard of very few instances of frost damage in 2017. Another issue associated with the “normal” amount of rain, was the ability to spray pre-emergent herbicides under the vines last winter. This lead to some weed control issues, but nothing really bad.

May, June and July all seemed pretty average, which is a good thing. The one thing grapes love is consistence. The can deal with warm weather and they can deal with cool weather, but not rapid changes between them both. There were a few times in May and June where we went from warm to cool to warm in just a few days, but in general these weren’t bad. July was consistently hot, but that is July.

Then came August and early September. The middle part of August was nice, maybe even cool by August standards, with many days having high temperatures in the 80’s. Then came the last week of August and the first few days of September. WOW! Some of my vineyards had temperatures which exceeded 110 for close to 10 days. Grapes are in general a hardy plant, but few plants (other than Cacti) are that hardy. It appears that yields were affected primarily on the eastside of Paso, with many blocks yielding less than 2 tons per acre.

My first harvest of the year is always a block of Sauvignon Blanc, that usually gets harvested in late August or early September. This year harvest was September 6th and I got almost 7 tons per acre. It is usually a high yielding block, but this was a record.

I was excited, that maybe it would be a good year for all blocks, but turns out that blocks right next to this one were some of the poorest I have had. Close, but not as bad as 2015.


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IGGPRA Publishes Nov-Dec 2017 Newsletter

The Independent Grape Grower announce the publication of their most recent newsletter

Click here down load a copy

Or Click here to go to website page with all of the most recent newsletters

If you like to be mailed a “hard copy” send an email to

Tribute to Richard Sauret

Dear IGGPRA members and friends,

IGGPRA will have a memorial to Richard Sauret Wednesday October 25th at Rava Wines. For more information and to register for the event please go to our events page (or CLICK HERE)

Richard was our President for many years, and a strong advocate for independent grape growers. His love for growing grapes was something he happily shared with everyone. We would love for you to join us in celebrating his life and legacy.


Thank you

New grant funds available for wine grape growers

Grant funding opportunities, a Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter update and more at IGGPRA’s October seminar: “Vines Never Sleep”

After what looks to be a difficult production year for Central Coast wine grape growers, there may be some relief ahead. Devin Best, Executive Director for the Upper Salinas/Las Tablas Resource Conservation District says there are several grant opportunities available to growers in 2018. He will discuss them at Vines Never Sleep – a seminar hosted by the Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area (IGGPRA) on October 19, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles.

“There are great opportunities out there for growers to get funds to help them with soil projects, irrigation and more,” Best said. “From $50,000 to $250,000, the funds are there and I’m looking forward to this opportunity to let growers know how to get them at the upcoming IGGPRA seminar.”

Best’s presentation will kick off the seminar which will also include other issues growers should prepare to do after harvest. The meeting will conclude with the latest updates on the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter situation in San Luis Obispo County. Other topics include how to improve soil nutrition and prepare the vineyard for its dormant season.

The featured speakers and topics are:

New Funding Initiatives –  An update on grants from the California Department of Food & Agriculture Healthy Soil Initiative, SWEEP (State Water Energy Efficiency Program) and more.
Speaker: Davin Best, Executive Director, Upper Salinas/Las Tablas Resource Conservation District

Soil Nutrition – Improving and maintaining soil health.
Speaker: Dean Harrell, Instructor/Consultant, Cuesta Community College

Putting the Vineyard to Sleep – How to get your vineyard ready for winter including Eutypa control.
Speaker: Lowell J. Zelinski, Ph.D., Owner/Viticulturist, Precision Ag Consulting

VINEYARD ALERT: Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Update
Speaker: Edwin Moscoso, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner, San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures.



“Practical Grape Growing” is an eight-part seminar series offered by IGGPRA in 2017 that provides growers and industry professionals with practical tips and information from local experts. All wine grape growers are invited and encouraged to attend. The seminar is free for IGGPRA members and $30/pp for non-members.

The meeting will be held at Castoro Cellars located at 1318 North Bethel Road in Templeton. To RSVP for the October 19 seminar, or learn more call (805) 591-4204 or register.



Wine, Water and Politics- Corbin Entz

Greetings IGGPRA members!

My name is Corbin Entz and I am a master student from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. As a part of my master thesis I am spending three months in the Paso basin studying wine, water and politics. I have been asked to write a few words about why I am here and what I hope to achieve.

In short, the purpose of my project is to explore how residents in the Paso basin negotiate and balance individual and collective concerns in their use and management of water during the political process of developing a local sustainability plan. As an anthropologist one way I approach this is by participating in and learning about whatever it entails being a part of the winegrape industry. Before coming here, I contacted IGGPRA to seek help finding a vineyard that would host me. To my luck your vice-president Joe Irick and his wife Terry reached out to me and have been my generous hosts this past month. With their help setting me up and that of other great people in the basin, the project is heading down the right tracks.

But why the Paso basin? Well, I was following the California drought and the Paso basin kept coming up. What I observed from afar was that in the Paso basin most residents appear to agree that something must be done to prevent future droughts from having devastating consequences. Yet, people here seem to disagree about to what extent, how and by whom. Since the late 1990s the Paso basin has experienced a phenomenal development of the area’s winegrape industry. During this period concerns over the condition of the basin have increased leading the state of California to deem the aquifer in risk of “critical overdraft”. The Paso basin is now set on a time schedule to develop a groundwater sustainability plan before 2020. During this political process struggles revolving around contrasting solutions and perceptions have emerged, causing tensions and conflict.

I doubt that any of this is news to you, but this is why I am here. I think that what is happening here is important to understand not only for those who live here, but for all other places facing the same issues. This why it is my goal to identify common grounds where the seemingly contrasting perceptions and interests in the basin align in ways that create the space needed to work together on facing important issues related to water. As one person said to me “it is a very difficult puzzle”. Fortunately, I am not here to solve it. But I would like to untangle the puzzle and make sense of it so that you who live here have a better chance putting its pieces together.

I am looking to meet many more people to learn about wine grapes and living in the Paso basin. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to have a chat with me, if you have some work you need help with on the vineyard, or especially if you want to show me what good wine tastes like. You can reach me at and 805-674-5840.

Thank you for your time!

Best regards

Richard Sauret Memorial

UPDATE 10/12/17: The Memorial has been planned please CLICK HERE for more information and to RSVP.

IGGPRA in coordination with PRWCA is planning a memorial service for Richard Sauret, sometime in very late October or early November.

Please watch your email inbox for more info.

We miss him

If you feel like you are missing info – call me at 286-6544

Lowell Zelinski
President, IGGPRA

Richard Sauret, IGGPRA President Emeritus has passed

As the current president of IGGPRA it is with deep regret we announce the death of Richard Sauret. He died in a car accident on Saturday, September 30th at 10:30 pm.

Richard Sauret with his favorite Zinfandel

Richard was instrumental in the development of IGGPRA, was President of IGGPRA for many years and will be greatly missed. The time he gave to the grape growers of the Paso area was truly amazing. I can not tell you how many times I saw him at events for grape growers in the Paso area acting as a volunteer and in general helping out. I was truly impressed. He will be missed by lots of people.

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September Seminar Recap

Hello All,

A few years ago, the IGGPRA Board committed to increase the number of Seminars and align the topics to the grape growing cycle. We’ve been successful with that approach and typical attendance ranges for 40-80; member and non-members alike.

In 2017, we determined that there were many topics and issues in the grape growing business that were not necessarily related to the growing cycle but of interest to our members. While we always try to have at least one speaker for the grape growing process at each seminar, we are also trying to bring topics that will expand our members understanding of other aspects in the wine and grape growing market.

The September 20th seminar was a good example of that, and here are the

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September – October Newsletter Available

IGGPRA has released its September – October 2017 Newsletter

Click here to go the newsletter page on the IGGPRA website

Or click on the link to download the newsletter in PDF format


Happy Reading

Celebration of Life for Joey Dixon Morrow

The family of Joey Morrow would like to invite fellow members and friends to join them in her Celebration of Life.

Joey Morrow was an early member of IGGPRA, her vineyard was called Morrow Vineyards near Estrella Rd and Pleasant Rd. She sold it in the late 1990s, it is now part of J. Lohr Vineyards.

“In 1980 (when I was first involved in Pleasant Valley Ranch on Estrella Rd about one half mile from Joey Morrow Vineyard) the very fine and good lady would come over and talk wine grapes, she was all alone and doing the best she could. And by the way that was not bad. Joey was a lady determined to do the best possible and never to be taken down on a bad year, determination was Joey Morrow.” -Richard Sauret

IGGPRA is sorry to hear about the loss of Joey Morrow, she was a wonderful grower, neighbor and friend who will be missed by everyone who knew her.

Celebration of Life for Joey Morrow

“There must be always wine and fellowship or we are truly lost.” – Ann Fairbairn