Bundschu hires VP of winemaking

Bill Batchelor has been named as vice president of winemaking and operations for the Bundschu Co. in Sonoma, which oversees Gundlach Bundschu, Bartholomew Park and Abbot’s Passage wines and the Gundlach Bundschu Rhinefarm estate in Sonoma.

Batchelor started in the wine business in 1996 at Preston of Dry Creek in Healdsburg. His past jobs included working in winemaking and production at Blackstone Winery in Kenwood. He was most recently at Martin Ray and Angeline wineries in Santa Rosa as general manager and director of winemaking.

“As Gundlach Bundschu continues to grow and prosper, a family-owned business like ours has to think strategically about our staffing and costs. With his impressive background in winery operations, Bill is a perfect addition to our team of rock stars,” said Shandra Knego, chief operating officer at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, in a statement.

Local groups to hold forum on soil health

A collection of wine groups are hosting a forum on soil health on Aug. 17 in Ukiah.

The groups have formed the North Coast Soil Health Hub, which will help farmers from Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties to develop more sustainable farming techniques. The organizations include the UC Cooperative Extension, the Mendocino Winegrowers, and the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Glen McCourty, the farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension in Mendocino County, will lead a discussion on the topic. It will be held at the Mendocino County Agriculture Building from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Organizers are asking participants to complete a survey prior to the conference so they will have better knowledge to provide support and technical guidance to growers.

The survey can be accessed at http://bit.ly/2tUz21c.

State provides $5 million to fend off vine disease

The state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27 will include a special $5 million allocation to help the state Department of Food and Agriculture combat Pierce’s Disease.

The disease is carried by glassy-winged and blue-green sharpshooters, which transmit bacteria into a vine, impeding its water flow and ultimately killing it.

The program had been funded annually by the state until 2011; however in recent years it has relied upon federal and industry funding.

The state agency will use the funds to work with nurseries and local plant inspectors to detect the sharpshooters and work to prevent them from spreading into new areas.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.