California Dept of Food & Agriculture
Winegrape growers in Sacramento County and throughout the Central Valley are contributing millions of dollars to fund research for a disease that’s a major threat to the state’s 45 billion dollar a year wine industry.
Carried primarily by the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter, Pierce's Disease is the bane of winegrape growers in the Napa region and the San Joaquin Valley.
Since the advent of the Sharpshooter in California in 1999, the bacteria-like pathogen has killed thousands of acres of vineyards causing millions of dollars in damages. Paul Kronenberg of Family Winemakers of California says the disease is devastating.
"For all sized producers, particularly small producers like family winemaker members, essentially that means death in the vineyard and you're out of business until you can replant if possible."
There are no effective treatments for the disease. To assist in the search for a remedy, four thousand winegrape producers have voted to continue a state sponsored, four-year-old self-assessment program through the year two thousand eleven. The assessment is two dollars per one thousand dollars in revenue. The total is expected to be about four million dollars.
As the Sharpshooter has proliferated in California over the past six years, so too have contributions toward research from the other sectors of the wine industry and state and federal governments. Some of the research is conducted at U-C Davis.