Originally published on April 5, 2018 at http://www.lodigrowers.com/lodi-winegrape-commission-announces-new-executive-director/

The Lodi Winegrape Commission, representing more than 750 winegrape growers farming 110,000 acres which includes 85 wineries in the Lodi American Viticulture Area (AVA), has announced the appointment of Stuart Spencer as Executive Director, effective immediately.

Spencer was promoted from Program Manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, a position he has held since June 1, 1999. During his nineteen years of service to the Commission, Spencer has led many of the marketing, promotional and educational efforts for the Lodi winegrape industry. He has played a key role developing the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, the LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing™, and the LoCA advertising campaign. Spencer is actively involved in the Commission’s consumer and trade marketing events including ZinFest and Lodi Wine & Chocolate. He has developed many of the Commission’s promotional materials including websites and ad campaigns. He is well-versed in the history of the region, the vineyards and the wines, and has worked diligently to increase quality awareness for Lodi wines and winegrapes.

In his new position at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Spencer will oversee the Commission’s marketing, public relations, strategic planning, and regional branding efforts, as well as grower and vintner relations. He will lead the Winegrape Commission team of 12, under the direction of the board of directors, and will be the primary spokesperson for the Lodi wine industry. The Lodi AVA is the second largest in California and crushes about 20% of California’s premium winegrapes. The region’s annual yield of over 743,000 tons of winegrapes was valued at over $450 million in 2017.

To the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Spencer brings experience, proficiency and deep wine industry knowledge.

“The past 19 years have been an incredible journey, and we’ve accomplished many great things working together as a staff, board, growers and vintners,” Spencer said. “It has been this collaborative culture, that puts personal interests aside, and works for the common good of our community that inspired me to pursue this position. I truly believe that we have made a difference, and that Lodi’s best days are ahead. The opportunities in Lodi are tremendous, and I’m very excited to help guide this great community to new heights.”

Leading one of California’s most historic winegrowing regions, Spencer will oversee the Commission’s annual budget to market the Lodi region, facilitate grower education, viticultural research, and expand awareness of the sustainable farming practices of the LODI RULES™ – a third-party-certified sustainable winegrowing program started by the Lodi Winegrape Commission in 2005.

“We are thrilled to have Stuart step into the Executive Director role. He has been a huge advocate to the region and we are certain he will continue to lift the perceptions and awareness of Lodi wines” said Kendra Altnow, the Vice Chairman of the Lodi Winegrape Commission Board of Directors.

Stuart Spencer, Executive Director of Lodi Winegrape Commission


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Article originally published at https://www.bizjournals.com/losangeles/prnewswire/press_releases/California/2018/03/29/DC52201

SAN FRANCISCOMarch 29, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The California Green Medal winners have been announced for the fourth annual Sustainable Winegrowing Leadership Awards.  The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability and is presented by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute, Lodi Winegrape Commission, Napa Valley Vintners, Sonoma County Winegrowers and Vineyard Team.  Four Green Medals are presented in the following categories: Leader, Environment, Community and Business.  The recipients of the Green Medal Awards will be honored at a ceremony at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on April 11, 2018.

The California Green Medal recognizes the leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainable winegrowing.  See: www.greenmedal.org for more information.

Winners of the 2018 Green Medals are:

LEADER AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that excels in the three “E’s” of sustainability—Environmentally sound, socially Equitable and Economically viable practices.
Winner:  Bogle Vineyards, located in Clarksburg, CA, embodies leadership in sustainability. For the past three generations, sustainability has been at its core, and they demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by certifying 1,200 acres of estate vineyards to LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing and certifying their winery to Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. Since 2010, Bogle has encouraged its partner-growers to practice sustainability by paying a total of $2.8 million in bonuses for certifying vineyards to LODI RULES, with over 92% of their grapes coming from certified vineyards. Employees are treated like family, with a dozen employees having spent 20-plus years at the company, and the average employee has been there for more than a decade. Good work relations are fostered through quarterly staff luncheons that feature presentations on the latest sustainability practices and other teambuilding exercises.

ENVIRONMENT AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Environmental Stewardship through maximized environmental benefits from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery, based in Rutherford in Napa Valley, is a 100% estate grown, sustainably farmed vineyard and winery. Driven by their commitment to environmental stewardship, they have preserved two-thirds of their acreage to promote biodiversity and protect the land for future generations. In the past three years, the winery has reduced their water use by 50% by capturing rainwater and reusing winery water for irrigation, and solar panels cover 80% of their electricity needs. St. Supéry’s Green Team educates employees on green practices and upholds a strict purchasing policy of using materials that are at least 50% post-consumer waste. The company offers incentives for carpooling to work, with 65% of employees participating.

Community Award, given to the vineyard or winery that is a Good Neighbor & Employer using the most innovative practices that enhance relations with employees, neighbors and/or communities.
Winner: KG Vineyard Management, based in Lodi, CA, is a custom farm management business committed to sustainable farming. Having vineyards certified to LODIRULES for Sustainable Winegrowing for the last 12 years, the company believes in maintaining and contributing to the legacy of healthy soil, air, water and the local community. KG is active in the area’s leadership roles and strives to fulfill a vision of success for Lodi and the surrounding community. They invest in the future–the future of the land, human resources, local youth and family. KG is a leader in fostering strong relationships with clients, employees and neighbors. KG’s employees are their biggest asset and safety training is implemented monthly and they provide training in Urdu, native to Pakistan and India, the primary language between the foremen and crews.

BUSINESS AWARD, given to the vineyard or winery that best demonstrates Smart Business through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation from implementing sustainable practices.
Winner: Cakebread Cellars, located in Napa, CA, has been committed to sustainability since its inception in 1973. Cakebread believes that sustainability means investing in its employees to help them achieve their career objectives and enjoy healthy work/life balance. That’s why they offer a generous vacation policy and host an ongoing “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise” education series featuring outside speakers to share expertise on all elements of a healthy lifestyle. Cakebread invests in the longevity of its employees by tightly controlling operation costs and eliminating waste wherever possible. In fact, they diverted 92% of their total annual waste in the past two years. It’s not just the big initiatives or investments that define Cakebread – it’s the day-to-day details and decisions that have helped save costs and create a culture of conservation.

“The Green Medal recognizes the commitment and dedication to sustainability by California growers and vintners,” said Allison Jordan, CSWA Executive Director. “It’s always a challenge selecting four winners from the many amazing applications received from vineyards and wineries of all sizes from throughout California. The judging panel was impressed by the breadth and depth of sustainable practices being used to conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, and enhance relations with employees and communities, all while improving the economic vitality of vineyards and wineries.”

A panel of wine and sustainability experts judged the applications for the fourth annual California Green Medal. They include Dr. Stephanie Bolton, Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission; David Glancy, Master Sommelier, San Francisco Wine School; Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance; Kelli McCune, Senior Manager, Sustainable Conservation; Michelle Novi, Industry Relations Manager, Napa Valley Vintners; Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly; Kate Piontek, Vice President of Operations, Sonoma County Winegrowers; and Beth Vukmanic Lopez, SIP Certifiedâ Manager, Vineyard Team.

Award sponsors are — Exclusive Media Sponsor: Wine Business Monthly; Gold Sponsor: Rivercap; Silver Sponsors: Protected Harvest, Farm Credit Alliance and Marin Clean Energy; and, Bronze Sponsors: CC Wine Caves and WM EarthCare.

Partnering organizations include: Fish Friendly Farming, Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Napa County Resource Conservation District, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, San Luis Obispo Wine Country Association, Santa Barbara Vintners, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance.

Visit: www.greenmedal.org for more information.

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(originally published on http://www.lodiwine.com/blog/ on March 9, 2018)

Covenant finds adventurous grapes for its premium kosher wines in Lodi

Covenant owner Jeff Morgan doing the only thing he is allowed to do in his own kosher winery (clean-up!)

At Covenant Wines in Berkeley late last month (February 2018), winery owner Jeff Morgan laid out his two current Zinfandels, both grown in Lodi, on the table, and issued a challenge to discern the differences. Our notes:

2016 Covenant Wines, Mensch Lodi Zinfandel ($20) – Bright ruby color; forward, briary red cherry aroma with suggestion of red licorice; medium-full bodied with rounded, pliant tannin and an almost pure (i.e. virtually un-oaked) fruit focus in the mouth.

2016 Covenant Wines, Landsman Lodi Zinfandel ($40) – Slightly deeper ruby red and even more luscious plummy/cherry aroma; juicy, plump, fleshy, fruit focused sensations on the palate, bolstered by a meatier texture, although fluid and smoothly rounded in the finish.

Covenant’s Landsman and Mensch Lodi Zinfandels

In conclusion, Covenant’s Landsman’s Zinfandel did indeed seem to merit twice the asking price by dint of perceptively deeper qualities. Yet both wines, according to Morgan, were made from the exact same batch of Zinfandel sourced from Lodi’s Mettler Family vineyards on Alpine Rd., picked on the same day, and both fermented on native yeast.

The difference, Morgan shared afterwards, was that the Mensch Zinfandel underwent a process called flash détente: In which grapes are subjected to high heat (about 180° F.) and then instantly cooled in a vacuum chamber; which immediately liquefies color, flavor and phenolic extract in the grape skins, allowing red wine juice to go immediately into barrel for fermentation, without the actual substance of skins or seeds. The result, according to Morgan, is a “super-fruit bomb style of Zinfandel.”

The Landsman, on the other hand, was produced by the more conventional method of fermenting red wine, by crushing grapes and fermenting the juice in tanks – complete with the original skins, seeds and partial stems. This produced a richer, more layered Zinfandel, with less of an emphasis on pure grape fruitiness. With tongue in cheek, Morgan turns the old winemaker’s maxim upside down: “This is proof wine is made in the winery, not the vineyard.”

Covenant’s Jeff Morgan and his talented, Sabbath observant winemaker Jonathan Hajdu

Mr. Morgan, in other words, is not one to fear taking roads less traveled. In fact, the last time we checked in on him was in the spring of 2013, the day before he was headed to Israel to find grapes to produce his first Israeli grown grapes; which he found, in both Galilee and its sub-region Golan Heights (and there is now a Covenant Israel portfolio).

In the meantime Morgan has expanded his portfolio of wines sourced from the Lodi Viticultural Area, and now produces a ChardonnayRoussanne as well as two different Zinfandels farmed by the Mettlers; while in the process, moving his operation from a leased space in another Napa winery to one of his own, located in a 6th St. warehouse in Berkeley.

The Covenant brands grown in both California and Israel all qualify as “kosher” (i.e. kashrut). A wine’s kosher status is determined entirely by who is touching the incoming grapes and wines going through the crushing or pressing, fermentation, aging and bottling process in the winery: everything must be handled exclusively by Sabbath observant Jews (growers supplying Covenant’s grapes, such as the Mettlers, are not required to be Jewish).

Covenant’s The Tribe Lodi Chardonnay

Though the funny thing, according to Morgan, is “the more we grow (Covenant Wines is up to 5,000 cases yearly), the less our wines are sold as kosher products. From the beginning we’ve always tried to make wines known for their quality, not for being kosher. To a lot of customers, being kosher is irrelevant – it’s all about the wine, which is the way we want it. At the same time, wines like ours are a good thing for our Sabbath observant Jewish customers, who are only able to consume kosher wines.”

Although Jewish, Morgan himself does not observe the Sabbath religiously – he’ll do things like drive a car on Saturdays, eat non-kosher foods and drink non-kosher wines. Therefore Morgan cannot handle the fermenting or aging of wines in his own winery. But for the past 15 years, Morgan has employed a highly skilled winemaker, Jonathan Hajdu, who is very much a Sabbath observing Jew.

Otherwise, a kosher wine is no different than any other wine: its quality is totally dependent upon the quality of grapes and vineyards (not to mention the skill of growers); and given a properly equipped winery, the talent and meticulousness of winemakers. “There is no such thing as a kosher way of making wines,” says Morgan, “but you can produce a finer kosher wine by following good winemaking practices, the same way all good wine is made.”

Barrels, tanks and cellar crew in Covenant Wines’ Berkeley winery

Adds Morgan, “I, myself, learned most of what I know about winemaking from one of my mentors, David Ramey (the widely acclaimed winemaker/owner of Sonoma County’s Ramey Wine Cellars). We focus on the most natural expression of fruit that we can get by relying strictly on indigenous yeast fermentation.

“We don’t add acid or try to do unnecessary things to our wines.  We focus on natural fruit qualities by aging mostly in neutral French oak. In the end, our Zinfandel is not so much a kosher Zinfandel, but a wine anyone can appreciate as Zinfandel. Which is why we buy fruit from Lodi – it’s one of the best places in the world for Zinfandel, and surprisingly, as we have since found, also for white wine grapes like Chardonnay and Roussanne!”

Covenant’s Mensch Lodi Roussanne

As a matter of fact, Ramey’s influenced could be strongly felt in both releases of Covenant white wines, with their strong emphasis on sensual, textural qualities:

2016 Covenant Wines, Mensch Lodi Roussanne ($20) – Honeyed pear aroma with a creamy richness; crisp, medium bodied feel with mingling sensations of mineral and pear-in-creaminess.

2016 Covenant Wines, The Tribe Lodi Chardonnay ($32) – Pale burnished gold color and lush, harmonious nose of fresh cream, citrus flesh and orange peel aromas; fleshy entry in the mouth, becoming fine and silky in the middle, and finishing with a crisp, minerally feel.

As Morgan tell us, “Not a lot of people are aware that Lodi excels in white wine grapes. These wines are fresh, bright, absolutely delicious, and they’ve already been doing great in restaurants where you would never expect them to do well – like the Italian style A16 in San Francisco, which has been selling the Roussanne.

“What this says is that if it’s good wine, people want it – whether it’s kosher or not, or whether it comes from Napa or Sonoma, or Lodi or Galilee!”

Covenant’s Jeff Morgan pouring his ultra-premium Landsman Lodi Zinfandel

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Cliff Ohmart Retires from SureHarvest

Published on February 23, 2018 by in News


(this story originally published here.)

Cliff Ohmart, original architect of LODI RULES and sustainability giant, announces his retirement by Randy Caparoso

Dr. Clifford P. Ohmart, early 2017

It is largely agreed, within the American winegrowing industry, that the Lodi Viticultural Area’s crowning achievement has been the establishment, in 2005, of LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing. What you might not know is that LODI RULES was originally the brainchild, for the most part, of one person: Dr. Clifford P. Ohmart.

Dr. Ohmart – who prefers to be called, simply, Cliff – was Lodi Winegrape Commission’s Sustainable Winegrowing Director for 14 years (1996 to 2009). During the past eight years he has been serving as Senior Scientist for SureHarvest (a sustainable agricultural management company).

This past December 29, 2017, Ohmart announced, through social media:

The day has finally arrived. This is my last day of work after 41 years as a scientist, IPM (i.e. Integrated Pest Management) advisor, program developer and manager, and all the other things I have done. My career has been a very rewarding and long journey. It took me to many places and I have worked with many wonderful and talented people. I hope to keep my toe in the sustainable ag waters through limited consulting work. I now look forward to the next phase in my life, which is retirement. I feel fortunate to be able to say that.

In late 1999, Cliff Ohmart and Steve Matthiasson with one of the first 200 copies of the groundbreaking Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook

Ohmart first arrived in Lodi in 1995 to do work as a UC Davis consultant to help the Lodi Winegrape Commission write a grant for Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS). Prior to that, Ohmart had acquired a Ph.D. in entomology (i.e. study of insects) from UC Berkeley before doing pest research in Australia for 13 years, followed by a brief period in Chico, California developing an IPM program for the almond, apple, walnut, prune and pistachio industries.

The impact of Ohmart’s labors is probably best described by Mark Chandler, Lodi Winegrape Commission’s first Executive Director (1991 to 2011). Chandler tells us:

Lodi’s transformation from anonymity to rising star is in no small way due to Cliff’s pioneering work in driving Lodi’s reputation for leadership in sustainability. Cliff’s unique set of attributes – the highest academic credentials, years of field experience as a Pest Control Advisor, and a demeanor that the growers appreciated and respected – turned out to be exactly what Lodi needed.

In the early 2000s, Ohmart with Lodi growers during one of hundreds of Workbook meetings

What made Lodi’s program so powerful and successful was that it came from the ground-up. The core values came from grower/leaders whose desire was to improve the district and enhance the value of their crop through sustainable practices. Cliff was the primary author of the Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook in 2000 – the first comprehensive viticulture publication since (UC Davis’) A.J. Winkler‘s in the 1970s – which was based on hundreds of hours of input from the grower community.

Similarly, when LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing was launched in 2005, it was the growers who provided the foundation of the program. Cliff was able to transform their desires and their wisdom into words and programs that were industry leading. Consider the fact that the Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook was published in 1999, and the workbook for the statewide program (that of CSWA, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance) was first published three years later, and even then it was largely based on Lodi’s work. It was a special moment in time that he had to advance sustainability not only in Lodi, but statewide and beyond.


A few quick things about LODI RULES:

1. Launched, after 10 years of development, in 2005, LODI RULES was the nation’s first-ever, highly detailed workbook for third party (by Protected Harvest) authenticated sustainable grape growing

2. In the winegrowing industry, sustainability is considered to be the most effective and meaningful approach to positive-impact viticulture – therefore far more significant than, say, certified organic programs such as CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers).

3. Lodi’s sustainable program has made such an impact on the overall agricultural industry that it now serves as the blueprint for similar sustainable programs implemented from coast to coast – from California to New York, Washington to Florida.

4. With close to 46,000 acres of certified “green” vineyards located in no less than 11 California Grape Crush Districts (including Lake CountySonoma CountyNapa ValleySan Francisco BayMontereySan Luis ObispoYolo County, and the Sierra Foothills), LODI RULES remains the country’s largest sustainable organization (the Vineyard Team’s SIP Certified – Sustainability in Practice program is the second largest, with some 41,100 certified sustainable acres).

One of Ohmart’s numerous grower outreach days in Lodi

We recently asked Dr. Ohmart to give his own perspective on how Lodi’s leadership in sustainability came to be. His story is fascinating – a peek back at truly groundbreaking history:

I could write a book about my experiences in Lodi, and maybe someday I will. It started when the Lodi Winegrape Commission offered me a job to run their Integrated Pest Management program. I had worked with a lot of growers in a lot of places, but I had never worked with such a wonderful group as the Lodi growers. They are forward thinking, they have a vision, and they know how to make it happen. Working with them was by far the best experience in my career.

After three years of working on the BIFS program I was looking for the next thing to help move the Lodi wine industry forward. I came across the idea of developing a self-assessment workbook. I put together an amazing committee of Lodi growers to work with Paul Verdegaal (UCCE San Joaquin County Farm Advisor), Chuck Ingels (Sacramento County Farm Advisor), Kent Reeves (a wildlife biologist from EBMUD), and the Lodi Winegrape Commission staff; and also hired Steve Matthiasson (today, of Matthiasson Wines) to help make it all happen.

We published the first Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook at the end of 1999. The workbook was a hit locally, and later became the model for a statewide self-assessment workbook for the California wine industry (the California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook). In fact the viticulture chapters in the Code were straight out of the Lodi workbook.

Dr. Ohmart holding 2006 GEELA (Governor’s Economic and Environmental Leadership Award) Award with Lodi growers and Lodi Winegrape Commission staff

Within a few years the wine industries in Washington and New York states developed self-assessment workbooks modeled after the Lodi Winegrower’s Workbook. In Lodi, we held over 40 workbook workshops over an 18-month period, from 2000 to 2001, attended by 265 growers. At the same time we were doing grower outreach field days, which were really well attended.

After using the workbook for about three years, some of the Lodi growers wanted to see if they could leverage, in the marketplace, their growing reputation for sustainable winegrape growing. This reputation was growing not only locally but all over California, the U.S. and even overseas. A group of growers decided to explore the idea of developing a sustainable winegrowing certification program that could be used in marketing Lodi wine. Over a 2-year period a committee similar to the one that helped put the Lodi Winegrowers Workbook together developed the farming practice standards that would become known as LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing. The program was launched in 2005 with 6 growers certifying 1,500 acres of vineyards.

The LODI RULES program has grown in leaps and bounds ever since; in a large part because wineries like Michael-David and Bogle are paying growers bonuses for certified sustainable wine grapes. I believe it was in 2008 when Lodi growers agreed to allow vineyards outside Crush District 11 to be certified according to the LODI RULES.

In 2017 120 growers applied for and were awarded certification on well over 45,000 acres of vineyards, which includes 24,000 in Crush District 11 (i.e. Lodi) alone, plus 21,000 acres in other parts of California. LODI RULES was the first third-party accredited and audited sustainable winegrowing program in California, and became the stimulus for certified sustainable programs in other regions as well as the state’s CSWA.

Logo of Protected Harvest, which audits and certifies LODI RULES vineyards

While the numerous sustainable organizations in and out of California – which include systems associated with regional organizations such as Sonoma County SustainabilityNapa Valley’s Napa GreenWillamette Valley’s LIVEWalla Walla Valley’s VINEANew York’s VineBalanceLong Island’s LISW, and British Columbia’s SWBC – have all been shaping their own science based versions of the sustainable practices first developed in Lodi, primary motivations vary as much as details of execution (every region finds ways to deal with their unique terroir-related circumstances on top of their own economic challenges and marketing objectives).

In recent conversations with numerous SIP Certified growers, for instance, we have found that most members are strongly motivated by environmental concerns, and seek a practical alternative to strictly input-based “organic” certifications.

According to Lodi Winegrape Commission’s current Sustainable Winegrowing Director Dr. Stephanie Bolton, “If you ask LODI RULES growers in Lodi why they subscribe to sustainability, the No. 1 reason given is so their children can learn how to grow sustainably… in a region known for its multi-generational farming, family legacies are a big deal.”

In a conversation in early 2017, Ohmart reminded us of why a LODI RULES “Certified Green” seal on a wine bottle label truly means something: “For the average consumer, the benefit is twofold – 1) they know that the grapes that made the wine were grown responsibly, and 2) that there is an intrinsic level of quality attached to a certified sustainably grown bottling.“

During the past eight years Ohmart’s work with SureHarvest has been, perhaps, even more ambitious: towards a design, development and implementation of sustainability programs for a wide range of specialty crops, including almonds, cut flowers, hazelnuts, cherries, and produce. There may soon come a day when sustainable certifications are more commonly identified with the highest levels of product safety, environmental responsibility and quality in the marketplace. It certainly already means more when it comes to wine products.

In fact, Ohmart’s global influence on the agricultural industry goes well beyond standards and practices. Kris Beal, M.S. – longtime Executive Director of Vineyard Team/SIP Certified – puts Ohmart’s impact this way: “Cliff’s contribution to the sustainable ag movement can’t be overstated. Understanding both the science and growers’ unique perspective, he’s been able to influence both behavior and culture. I’m grateful that Cliff led the way for so many of us in this important work.”

If you are interested in doing further reading into Dr. Ohmart’s works, you can also find his latest book, entitled View From the Vineyard: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Winegrape Growing (Board and Bench Publishing, 2011). If you dig further, you will find two more Ohmart authored books, plus another 30 research articles published by Ohmart in international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, Ohmart has presented over 350 seminars, conference papers and symposia papers at universities, for government research organizations and grower groups throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Finland.


Will it be even possible for Ohmart to completely “retire?” However things shake out, Lodi – and the rest of the viticultural and agricultural worlds – will always have much to thank him for!



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Kids Explain Sustainability

Published on February 23, 2018 by in News


This January, LODI RULES filmed a video where children and grandchildren of LODI RULES farmers and vintners explain SUSTAINABILITY. Watch ten adorable children, without any preparation, give incredibly insightful and often funny views on sustainability.

A special thanks to our wonderful, dedicated LODI RULES families who came together one Saturday afternoon to make this video a reality!  Thank you Charlie & Sandi Starr, Stanton & Caroline Lange and their daughter Stephanie, Adam & Alyson Mettler, David Ogilvie, and Mike & Katie Klouda. Your kids are amazing and so are you!

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(Originally published on Wine Industry Advisor on January 17, 2018.)

Israel’s Golan Heights and Galil Mountain Wineries Achieve Historic Certification

January 17, 2018, LODI, CA – The LODI RULES™ Sustainable Winegrowing Program, created by the Lodi Winegrape Commission and third-party certified by Protected Harvest, is making its first foray into the international market. Golan Heights Winery and subsidiary Galil Mountain Winery of Israel have the first international vineyards certified sustainable under the rigorous and respected LODI RULES program. The wineries’ combined 425 acres now enrolled in LODI RULES are in fact the first vineyards to become certified sustainable in all of Israel and represent the first international certification for any California-based sustainable viticulture certification program.

The Israeli vineyards join more than 45,000 acres and over 1,100 vineyard blocks in California certified under the LODI RULES Program in 2017, a 26 percent increase in acreage over 2016 due in large part to adoption of the program by winegrowers not only in the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA), but also by other farmers throughout California.

LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Director, Dr. Stephanie Bolton, says the certifications in Israel are the result of decades of viticulture leadership from the Lodi AVA, located just south of Sacramento, CA. “We are extremely thankful to the many Lodi growers and scientists who developed the LODI RULES Program out of a desire to farm sustainably and to protect the land for future generations. It is from their original forward-thinking vision in the 1990s that we are able to share LODI RULES and sustainable farming certification with our international winegrowing community today.”

Without a sustainable viticulture program in Israel, ecologically-minded, industry-leading Golan Heights Winery and Galil Mountain Winery searched the globe for a serious, meaningful sustainability program that would bring value to its operation, ultimately selecting LODI RULES. The LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Program takes a comprehensive, progressive approach to sustainable farming. Victor Schoenfeld, Head Winemaker at Golan Heights Winery, agrees, “This is a milestone in our efforts to farm more sustainably in the framework of our constant holistic search to increase wine quality now and in the future. We very much see ourselves as caretakers of a very special spot on the planet. We hope to act as a model for others in the Israeli wine industry in order to promote sustainability in our industry as a whole. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with LODI RULES in 2018 and beyond and are confident others in Israel will join us.”

For Protected Harvest, the Israeli wineries represent yet two more environmentally and socially responsible leaders joining the ranks of distinguished LODI RULES sustainable winegrowers. Protected Harvest Board President, Dr. William R. Horwath of University of California Davis, says, “The international growth represents a milestone and is the culmination of long-term efforts by Protected Harvest to incorporate certification methods for harvesting, efficient use of resources, environmental awareness and social responsibility into a strategic effort that satisfies the growing demands of the public for sustainably grown. These efforts are made possible by Dr. Cliff Ohmart, Protected Harvest Board Members, and the collaboration of the three organizations involved motivated by a persistent desire to maintain a high level of credibility exemplified in both Protected Harvest and the LODI RULES Program.”

LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing

The LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Program is America’s original sustainable viticulture program. Created by the Lodi Winegrape Commission and accredited by Protected Harvest, the LODI RULES Program promotes sustainable management of the entire vineyard ecosystem, including soils and water, business practices, human resources, and pest control with an emphasis on reducing pesticide risk to farm workers, consumers, small aquatic invertebrates, birds, and bees. Each of the 120+ farming practice standards is measurable, auditable, and addresses at least one sustainability aspect (environmental health, social equity, or economic viability). Most LODI RULES winegrowers voluntarily choose to farm sustainably because they believe in the value of the program. Their generational efforts in responsible viticulture are reflected in the high quality of LODI RULES sustainable grapes.

For more information about the LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Program, visit lodirules.com.

Protected Harvest

Protected Harvest was established in 2001 as an independent certification organization, with the principal mission of advancing and certifying the use of sustainable agriculture practices through the development of stringent, transparent, and quantifiable standards. The Board of Directors is a collaboration of representatives from prominent environmental organizations, agricultural specialists, scientists, and marketing experts. The Board’s responsibility is to review and approve all standards as grounded in environmental science and practical for on-farm implementation.

For more information about Protected Harvest, visit protectedharvest.org.

Golan Heights Winery & Galil Mountain Winery

Golan Heights Winery is active in the areas of environmental responsibility and community involvement in northern Israel in general, and in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee in particular. One of the winery’s main goals is to increase its positive impact on both the environment and society. Always leading the way, Golan Heights Winery was the leading organic winegrower in Israel and is now, along with its offshoot winery – the Galil Mountain Winery – the first to have certified sustainable vineyards. The winery exports to 32 countries around the globe.

For more information about Golan Heights Winery, visit golanwines.co.il/en.

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Measuring Sustainability

Published on September 13, 2011 by in News


Wines & Vines – Editorial Column

By: Clifford Ohmart

September 2011

“The wine community has embraced the concept of sustainability like no other cropping system. Since the early 1990s winegrowers and winemakers have been committed to moving along the sustainability continuum, from less sustainable to more sustainable. For the most part, progress has been measured by implementing and tracking practices.”

To view this video and continue to read the entire article please follow this link.

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View from the Vineyard: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Winegrape Growing

By: Clifford Ohmart
September 2011

SureHarvest’s Cliff Ohmart, author and entomologist, brings reason and clarity to the politically loaded and amorphously defined popular world of sustainable viticulture with this unique and comprehensive examination of the subject.  View from the Vineyard does much more than explain what “sustainable” means, its practical importance to the wine industry and the costs of agribusiness as usual.

Click here for more information.

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Date: April 20, 2011

By: Michelle Rothmeyer

In an effort to provide a more informative, interactive online experience for retailers, restaurateurs, food service personnel and members of the agricultural industry, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) has redesigned and launched http://www.wisconsinpotatoes.com. The site focuses solely on the needs of trade members, with navigation centered on core industry interests — sustainable farming, agricultural research, marketing tools, legislative initiatives, consumer preferences and changing trends in food service.

To read the full article visit: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=230983

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Healthy Grown Program Update

Published on March 22, 2011 by in News


March 22, 2011

By: Deana Knuteson, University of Wisconsin – Madison

The “Healthy Grown” potato program has enjoyed continual success since its inception enrolling 4000-6000 acres annually (10-15% of the Wisconsin fresh potato crop).  We have been successful in developing educational tools to help growers advance their practices to use more biologically-based, less toxic practices, to become knowledgeable about ecosystem conservation and take positive conservation actions to protect or restore rare plants and animals on privately owned farms, and to move to more sustainable growing practice to receive marketplace recognition. These educational tools have been used in states throughout the US and internationally.

A tenet of the program has been to measure and document changes in the industry that have resulted from the program.  In the past eight years, participating growers achieved a 52% increase in adoption of sustainable practices accompanied by a 30% reduction in the toxicity of pesticides applied to potatoes, without sacrificing yield, quality or profitability. Furthermore, more than 400 acres of privately owned non-agricultural landscapes have been restored to increase biodiversity on the individual farms as a result of this program.

There have been local successes in the sales and marketing of “Healthy Grown” potatoes, although large scale sales have not occurred as of yet. However, ongoing discussions with several large, Wisconsin-based potato grower and brokerage cooperatives concerning the use of the sustainable certification provided by the “Healthy Grown” program are expected to significantly increase sales in 2011

Since 2010, with the beginning of our “Healthy Farms” initiative, we have been able to expand our working groups to include vegetable processors, buyers, and additional growers to increase participation of the program.  We have developed pilot “Whole Farm Standards” that assesses sustainability at the farm level in conjunction with pilot standards for fresh and processed potatoes, processed snap beans and carrots.  The Whole Farm Standard addresses criteria in Environmental (ecosystems, biodiversity, soil, water, crop nutrients, pest management), Social (labor, community, consumer) and Economic (profitability, energy, carbon, value added) sustainability. The individual crop standards address sustainability criteria that are specific to each crop. The expanded standards will be piloted to Midwestern growers in 2011.  In the near future, we plan to include more vegetable and field crops into the effort.  It is a critical time to develop a whole farm program, as growers need to capitalize on market opportunities which are arising as a result of the “sustainability” and “green” initiatives which have been started in the food industry.

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