Joint Legislative Wine Committee Meets at Sonoma State University to Discuss the Future of the California Wine Industry

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Members of the Assembly and Senate Select Committees on Wine discuss issues facing the California wine industry. The legislators pictured are Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), Assemblymember Dodd (D-Napa) and Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg).

ROHNERT PARK, CA – Assemblymember Dodd (D-Napa) and Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) united their respective Select Committees on Wine for a joint hearing on Tuesday to review major issues impacting California’s wine industry. Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute hosted the hearing, and the committee members heard from a panel of top industry experts who discussed impacts of the drought, sustainability innovations, and farmworker housing.

“It’s critical that the state supports efforts that help address critical issues such as improving water use and sustainability, as well as farm worker housing,” said Assemblymember Dodd. “The testimony we heard today provided important insight into how the state can work collaboratively with stakeholders to find solutions to our challenges.”

“Today’s hearing was an opportunity to hear from vintners and other experts about some of the most pressing issues facing California’s wine industry, which provides over 300,000 jobs in California and contributes billions of dollars to our state’s economy,” said Senator Lois Wolk, Chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry. “How will this industry continue to thrive in the face of our state’s ongoing drought? How can we provide more affordable housing for the industry’s farmworkers and their families? I look forward to working with the state’s vintners and other stakeholders to address these issues and the other significant issues discussed today.”

A significant topic of conversation centered on affordable farm worker housing in the wine industry. Over the past decade, the demand for hired farm workers has increased while the supply of employer-provided housing for these farm workers has declined. The committees heard from Larry Florin, Director of Housing & Intergovernmental Affairs for Napa County, who touted their partnership between the local vineyard owners as a model that the state should support and foster.

When government, education, and industry leaders can come together to tackle the issues of our day, solutions will follow. Today, we learned investment in education is fundamental to innovation and industry best practices. We look forward to working with both the Senate and Assembly on the right solutions for wine families and businesses,” said Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Focusing on the drought, the committees learned how the industry is taking a proactive approach to implementing sustainable practices that can dramatically save water. By identifying best practices, the state can better support and advance sustainability in viticulture and ultimately improve California agriculture on the whole. Representatives from Sonoma State University and UC Davis also spoke about advancing the future of the wine industry by providing top quality education to California’s next generation of wine makers.

Assemblymember Bill Dodd represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Colusa Counties. You can learn more about the event at or you can call Assemblymember Dodd’s office at (800) 965-6765.