San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers see opportunities for industry

The San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association gathered for a wine industry forum in Fresno, Calif. recently to hear on trends and to honor two of its own with lifetime achievement awards.

Frank Saviez and Don Stanley were presented lifetime achievement awards for their work in the industry. Saviez spent his career in the ag chemical industry where he worked for and retired from Wilber Ellis in Fresno. He still grows grapes in retirement near Fresno.

Stanley is retired after a long career that started as a grape buyer and moved along to overseeing the growth and expansion of Golden State Vintners before it was sold to The Wine Group in 2004. Though Stanley claims to have retired in 2006 he remains an active consultant and advisor to O’Neill Vintners and Distillers.

The half-day gathering included discussions on land prices and trends from Ben Slaughter, senior appraiser with Correia-Zavier in Fresno; highlights of the 2015 crop and future opportunities in the industry by Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers; a panel discussion featuring growers Nathan Cardella, Josh Marshall and Jeff Yribarren, and industry expert Tim McDonald; a marketing discussion with Amy Hoopes of Wente Family Estates; and, an economic look into the wine industry with Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank.

Among the common themes of the event included an admitted downward trend in wine grape acreage in the San Joaquin Valley, fostered by the profitability of tree nuts, and the belief that Valley grape growers have opportunities among those challenges to build a brand through quality grapes that could improve marketing opportunities within the industry.

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