As in much of the state, acreage of wine grapes in Sacramento County increased rapidly during the 1990s. According to the 2011 Sacramento County Crop & Livestock Report, there were 27,231 harvested acres of wine grapes, with a value of $93 million dollars - the leading commodity in Sacramento County.
The main varieties growing in Sacramento County are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and many growers have planted blocks of less common varieties such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Petite Sirah. Unlike pears, wine grapes are produced throughout the southern part of the county. Although there are no large wineries in Sacramento County, there are some small wineries and tasting rooms. Sacramento County contains a portion of two crush districts: the Lodi district, east of Interstate 5, and the Clarksburg district west of I-5.
Vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus) can be found throughout the region, and several insecticides are available for its control. Click here for a 2012 newsletter article that discusses current vine mealybug control methods. Other pests include grape leafhopper, spider mite, and omnivorous leaf roller (OLR).
Canker disease is a serious problem that affects the long-term viability of vineyards. Late pruning (February to early March) is recommended but is often not practical. Fungicides are available to spray immediately after pruning, which can prevent most infections. Click here for a 2011 newsletter article that discusses canker disease.
Powdery mildew and bunch rot pose problems each year. For powdery mildew, dusting and/or spraying with sulfur and/or any of a number of fungicides is required, although some varieties are more susceptible than others. To see recent reports of Doug Gubler's powdery mildew trials, click here. For bunch rot, control strategies are usually necessary on tight clustered varieties.
Potassium. I have been cooperating with Dr. Stu Pettygrove (UCD) and Paul Verdegaal (UCCE San Joaquin County) on a vineyard potassium trial. To see a 2011 article we wrote on potassium fertilization, click here.
For more information on growing wine grapes, visit the UC Integrated Viticulture web site. For more information on vineyard pest management, visit the UC IPM web site.