Senator Seeks Disaster Assistance for Winegrape Growers

Errante noir wine grape
Errante noir, a new red grape variety, is most similar to a cabernet sauvignon. (Dan Ng/UC Davis)

A Senator from the Pacific Northwest is asking Senate colleagues to provide additional assistance for wine grape growers impacted by wildfires in 2020. Ron Wyden, A Democrat from Oregon, made the request to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture this week. In the 2019 disaster relief package, Congress provided $3 million through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program for winegrowers whose grapes were damaged by wildfires in 2018 and 2019. Wildfires have again burned millions of acres of land throughout the West and caused heavy layers of smoke in 2020. Because of that, Wyden says winegrape growers now require the same assistance. Wildfire smoke can alter the flavor of grapes, making them unusable for wine. Wyden states, “the WHIP program is designed to compensate producers in this very situation, and it is critical that Congress provide this necessary assistance.” Wyden made the request in a letter to the leadership of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee.