By majority vote of the grape growers, the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission (MWWC) will not be renewed for a second five–year term.
On Feb. 1, at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, Glenn Yost of the California Department of Food and Agriculture heard testimony on the production, economic and marketing conditions of the last five years affecting the Mendocino County winegrape and wine industry, and the effect the continuation of the Commission would have upon those conditions and whether the Commission attains the objectives for which it was established; effectuates its declared provisions; and furthers the interest of the State of California.
After hearing testimony, Yost declared that the continuance of the Commission would be decided by a referendum vote. 274 producers and 72 vintners were sent ballots from the CDFA on April 25 and were due back to the CDFA, postmarked by May 25, 2012. Of the ballots sent, 66.42 percent of producers and 81.94 percent of vintners participated in the election by returning their votes. According to the CDFA, 45.05 percent of producers voted in favor and 54.95 percent opposed. In contrast, 67.80 percent of vintners voted in favor of continuation while only 32.20 percent opposed. Based on the uniqueness of the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission Law, a majority vote by both groups would have needed to vote in favor of the Commission.
“We want to thank the constituency for the opportunity to market the quality grapes and award-winning wines of Mendocino County over this past year. We have made huge strides and are sad to see that it was not enough to overcome the hardship the Commission has had over the last five years. Mendocino County is such a unique and diverse region and I hope that it can continue to grow and gain a healthy market share in the wine industry.
“The past five years have been challenging for the Commission and many of us have put our hearts and souls into trying to create a unique position for a vintner and grower Commission” said Alex MacGregor, chairman of MWWC. “We are saddened to see the Commission go and wish the community the best of luck in the future.”
MWWC, which is was the only producer and vintner Commission in California, was voted in by a constituency of Mendocino County grape growers and vintners in 2005. It was shown that the production of winegrapes, wine, and winegrape products in Mendocino County had the potential to be one of the leading segments of the state's winegrape and wine industries. To realize this potential, there was a need to make consumers aware of the high quality of winegrapes, wine, and winegrape products produced in Mendocino County.
The activities made possible by the establishment of the Commission are intended to meet this need and further the interests of the industries and the state.
The Mendocino Winegrape & Wine Commission (MWWC) was an alliance of 98 wineries and 273 grape growers in Mendocino County. MWWC mission was to promote and market the winegrapes and wines of Mendocino. The organization sponsored education and research supporting sustainable viticulture techniques for growing premium grapes in Mendocino’s 12 diverse regions.
The Commission will begin wind-down procedures to be completed over the next three to four months.