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Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association Honors Rick Wood and Fairfield Council Members

On August 7, 2010, the Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers held their annual meeting. This gathering is the one time each year that everyone in the valley, and those who support the valley, come together to celebrate their accomplishments.

Each year the meeting is held at one of the wineries, with the meeting location being shared, from year to yea. This year’s host was Wooden Valley Winery.

A special surprise was included in this meeting. Awards were presented by President Roger King, to those who had the wisdom, foresight, and generosity to establish the Suisun Valley Fund. Click here for the full details of that fund.

This fund was created and supported by members of both the Fairfield City Council and the Solano Irrigation District. These two entities approved the fund, which was designed to have grants that have totaled nearly $2 million, to last over a seven year period.

Rick Wood was the first to recognize and understand that to preserve Suisun Valley as an agricultural entity would provide tremendous benefit to not only Solano County, but also to its citizens. For that, Mr. Wood was the first to be recognized for his forethought.

The five Fairfield council members who approved this funding. They were the following:

  1. Jack Batson
  2. Karin MacMillan
  3. Harry Price
  4. Marilyn Farley
  5. John English

The five directors from the Solano Irrigation District, who were honored for their foresight and generosity by approving the Suisun Valley Fund, were the following:

  1. Bob Bishop
  2. Guido Colla
  3. Robert Currey
  4. Robert Hansen
  5. Marion Maginnis – Posthumously

At the end of 2010, the “Suisun Valley Fund” and the “Suisun Valley Fund Advisory Committee” will cease to exist; however, all of the programs implemented during that time will live on historically for Suisun Valley, and they are momentous for all growers in this Suisun Valley AVA.

Quoting Jack Batson: “In 2000, Rick Wood, who was Manager of the Water Division for the city of Fairfield, entered into negotiations with the Solano Irrigation District, so that Fairfield and SID and would give the valley farmers another chance to save their agricultural region.

“Wood’s idea was as innovative as it was historic. The “Second Amended Agreement” of 2002 extended the term of the 1974 agreement from 2006 through 2010, and created the “Suisun Valley Fund” and the “Suisun Valley Fund Advisory Committee,” to run the fund. Both parties would put $100,000 per year into the fund for eight more years and adjust the yearly amount for inflation. The $1,600,000+ would be spent to promote the marketability of valley produce and to create other mechanisms to “preserve and enhance” valley agriculture that would continue past 2010. The Committee would be composed of two members each from the Fairfield City Council and the Solano Irrigation District, and three valley landowner/growers chosen by the two agencies.”

The Fund, now nearing its end, has made a significant impact. Its accomplishments include the following:

  1. Funding for the start-up and development of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association (now Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association).
  2. Organization of Suisun Valley retailers into a Harvest Trails group (now merged with the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association).
  3. Funding for the start-up and development of the Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative (winery and tasting room for smaller production growers).
  4. Professional design and production of a logo and Harvest Trails map/brochure.
  5. Three weather stations for real-time data and microclimate analysis (added to Solano Irrigation District’s three stations making a total of six stations in the valley. The data is now adequate for microclimate studies like other major wine grape growing area
  6. Space on a new I-80 freeway sign and reader board at the Fairfield Auto Mall (i.e., the Fairfield “Jelly Belly” sign), inviting travelers to “Visit Suisun Valley.”
  7. Directional “wayfaring” signs at a dozen intersections in Suisun Valley.
  8. Funding for a “Mother Earth” public art piece at the Abernathy Road/Rockville Road entryway roundabout (with Solano County).
  9. Funding for an influential “Agricultural Vision and Economic Innovation for Suisun Valley” report by the American Farmland Trust Consulting (March 2007), as part of background studies for the Solano County General Plan Update (with Solano County), resulting in Solano County expressly supporting the continuation and facilitation of agriculture in the valley in its new General Plan.
  10. Employing the services of an “Agricultural Ambassador” for outreach to Suisun Valley growers and to staff Committee projects.
  11. Web page design and maintenance (www.SuisunValley.com).
  12. Promotional events, notably “Fun Family Farm Days,” staffed by the Agricultural Ambassador and volunteers.
  13. New relationships within the valley and new emerging leadership among the landowners, to face the future.
  14. The creation of a “Vision for the future of farming in Suisun Valley” (incorporated into Solano County’s Suisun Valley Strategic Plan, February 2010)


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