Lake, Mendocino grape growers push for federal aid to help with smoke-taint damage
Grape growers from Lake and Mendocino counties are lobbying for federal disaster aid as a result of smoke damage to their crop from the Mendocino Complex fires this summer.
Lake County growers have already lost at least $37.1 million from smoke-tainted grapes this year, according to a survey by the Lake County Winegrape Commission. The 2017 crop was valued at $84 million before those grapes were turned into wine.
Likewise, Mendocino County grape growers are expected to release their own survey soon that also will show they suffered extensive losses. That crop was valued at $120 million last year.
Local and state winegrape industry officials on Sunday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, asking him to push to include the industry in disaster-aid legislation that may move through Congress soon. That effort is specifically designed to help timber growers who were harmed by Hurricane Michael that barreled through Florida, Georgia and Alabama last month.
“This year, persistent exposure to heavy smoke, produced by uncontrolled wildfires, resulted in substantial losses to winegrape growers in Lake and Mendocino counties,” wrote John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, along with leaders of various farm groups from Lake and Mendocino counties.