Fetzer Gives Up Organic Certification to Save the Vineyard

Lake County

Ceago Vineyard

Ceago Vinegarden is owned by Jim Fetzer, former President of Fetzer vineyards. The Fetzer family built their business into an internationally-respected winery. When the Fetzer family sold the winery in 1992, Fetzer vineyard was producing 2.5 million cases of wine annually. In 1993, Jim Fetzer established Ceago Vinegarden which produces about 6000 cases of wine and has been certified as an organic producer since 2003.All was well at this beautiful vineyard until 2013 when a new pest invaded and Fetzer had to choose between keeping the organic certification or preserving the grapevines.

“Fetzer owns Ceago Vinegarden near Nice, California.

His 49-acre vineyard is situated at an elevation of 1,400 feet in a protected area along the shores of Clear Lake, where the landscape sports some palm and citrus trees.

Fatzer’s vineyard earned organic and biodynamic certification in 2003. This year, however, he lost both certifications. He was unable to control an infestation of the Virginia creeper leafhopper, a recent arrival in the North Coast area, using a soft-chemistry material that he’s used successfully to control the western grape leafhopper.

The leaf-feeding Virginia creeper leafhopper is also called the zigzag leafhopper because of markings on its back.

“It’s very vicious and sucks all the chlorophyll out of the leaves,” Fetzer says.

Even as many as four applications of the insecticide this season would not have controlled the Virginia creeper leafhopper, Fetzer says. So, he switched to Montana, an imidacloprid that is not approved for organic or biodynamic production. He treated his vineyard one time with the product, at a cost in material of $18 per acre. That was in mid-June after all the eggs had hatched so that he could target the adults.

“We had no choice,” Fetzer says. “Otherwise, we would have ended up at the end of the year with little chlorophyll in the leaves and difficulty getting the fruit to ripen. We lost our certification. But the synthetic product did a really good job and saved our vines.””

Author: Greg Northcutt
Affiliation: Journalist
Title: Pest outbreak mars good wine grape season
Source: Western Farm Press. August 28, 2013. Available at: http://westernfarmpress.com/grapes/pest-outbreak-mars-good-wine-grape-season

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