Federal farm bill contains provisions for wine industry

The $867 million federal farm bill recently passed by the U.S. Congress contains provisions that will benefit the domestic wine industry.

Under the legislation, the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program will continue its annual funding level of $200 million for marketing exports to foreign countries. The Wine Institute, the state’s largest wine trade group, receives funding through the program. In fiscal year 2018, it received $5.5 million.

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative will receive $80 million per year, which will boost its overall funding by $25 million annually after a revamp to the program.

“It has been a vital source of funding for grape and wine research across the country, often including multi-state projects involving various institutions,” Jim Trezise, president of the WineAmerica trade group, wrote in an email to supporters.

The Specialty Crop Block Grants program will receive $85 million annually. Lawmakers also reformed the program to make it easier to fund multi-state projects, Trezise said.

Supervisors clear permit for Ramey Wine Cellars

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allowed Ramey Wine Cellars in Healdsburg to go forth on its winery expansion to produce another 20,000 cases annually and construct a new tasting room.

The board voted 5-0 to reject an appeal from community activists who were concerned that expansion at the property located at 7097 Westside Road would produce more traffic. The county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments approved the application last year on a 3-to-1 vote.

Winemaker David Ramey wants to build a 32,210-square-foot winery building and a 20,720-square-foot wine cave on the west side of the property. His winery produces 40,000 cases annually.

The project would convert an old hop kiln building on the east side into a public tasting room. A nearby old hop barn would become a new reserve tasting room.

Louis M. Martini Winery to host Auction Napa Valley

The Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena will host the barrel auction for the Auction Napa Valley weekend next year.

The iconic winery is undergoing a restoration that is scheduled to be completed by March. The 85-year-old building is being restored to its original form, removing non- historic additions that have been made through the years.

The Friday Barrel Auction will be held May 31 at the winery, which was purchased by E&J Gallo Winery in 2002. The overall event has raised more than $185 million for children’s education and community health programs in the area since first being held almost 40 years ago.

Auction Napa Valley 2019 will take place from May 30 to June 2. Tickets will go on sale starting March 1 at auctionnapavalley.org.

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