About Us

Founded in 1978, the Sierra Wine & Grape Growers Association represents and supports both home and commercial winemakers and grape growers in Nevada County, and adjoining Placer, Yuba and Sierra Counties in California.

Our membership is open to all those who either own a vineyard, make wine, or are simply interested in wine and being a member of the organization. Members are continually increasing their knowledge of vinicultural and viticultural practices in the northern Sierra Foothills to produce premium grapes and high quality wines.

We meet monthly, usually the third Thursday evening, in Grass Valley.  Our programs feature knowledgeable speakers or a workshop panel discussing a specific area of viticulture or wine making or wine appreciation.  Most meetings start or end with the sharing of our own wines. We also have two social events: a summer picnic, usually in June, and a holiday party in December.

Throughout the year some monthly meetings occur elsewhere, such as an outdoor pruning demonstration in a local vineyard in February, or a conducted tour of a local vineyard or winery in Spring or Summer.

Our annual general meeting is held in November, when we elect officers and directors for the following year.

Benefits of Membership

Members are entitled to access the Member Area of the SWGGA Web Site where there are downloads and links to special educational materials only available to active members. In addition, there are some member-only educational or social programs. We consider it to be common courtesy and common sense to share information on our philosophy and cultural practices, and the reasons why they work. Mentoring is available to members who wish to plant or improve a vineyard, or who wish to learn to make wine. (moved from below)

Our Region

Rising from near sea level to over 9000 feet, our region contains a variety of locations in our region for matching grape varietals to climate and soil.  And this our growers do – finding the best varietals for quality grape production at their location.  Our grapes are sold to local wineries and within northern California.

Premium grape quality in California is often defined as “low yield – high fruit flavor”. This is fashioned for us by nature in our region by the less than indevigorating effect of our shallow, mountainside soils. By utilizing some form of drip irrigation system, through which we can add needed nutrients from time to time, we master the art of concentrating flavor in our grapes. Our grapes produce wine with complexity and strong varietal fruit flavor. Like most farmers, our growers take great pride in their land and the grapes they produce. Here the focus is quality production, because premium wines can only be made from high-quality grapes.

We are proud of our grapes and the award winning wines they produce. We are especially proud of our growers. They care for their land and their vines. , in order to preserve our agriculture and its products for all to enjoy.

Our Appellation

The term “appellation” is French and refers to a viticultural region that, by virtue of its similar geographical features and climate, produces wines with similar characteristics. This implies that the influence of soil, climate, sun, water quality, and landscape – what the French call “terroir” – produce a style of wine that cannot be exactly duplicated elsewhere. An appellation area can range from very small plots of land to huge areas that cover hundreds of square miles.

Appellations in California are called “American Viticultural Areas” or AVAs. Wines carrying a label identifying its AVA must contain a minimum of 85% grapes from that AVA. Some Napa and Sonoma wines today do contain Sierra Foothills grapes, to add complexity to their wines, but in quantities that allow them to retain their Sonoma or Napa appellation designation.

The Sierra Foothills appellation stretches from Yuba County in the north to Mariposa County in the south on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is described as an exciting and up-and-coming appellation. Yet vineyards were first planted here during the gold rush days. This whole area is mostly known for its ripe, fruity chocolatey Zinfandels. But today many other varietals are successfully grown here.

Our Wines

With hot dry days, and cool nights, we have an ideal climate for many red wines. Some of the varietals in our region that produce premium quality wines are Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. White varietals include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Our home and commercial winemakers have consistently won medals and awards at the California State Fair, the Nevada County Fair and other competitions.

Good Neighbor Policy

Our grape growers are guardians of the land they work. Thus, they will not jeopardize the long term health of their vineyard with short-term treatments. Some members are dedicated and approved organic farmers, most Most of our members are committed to sustainable practices – minimal use of pesticides to control pests, greater use of cover crops, beneficial predatory insects, and the creation of a healthy soil and plant environment.

We consider it to be common courtesy and common sense to share information on our philosophy and cultural practices, and the reasons why they work. Mentoring is available to members who wish to plant or improve a vineyard, or who wish to learn to make wine. (moved to above)

Sustainable management of our resources includes:

  • Planting cover crops that improve the land’s natural fertility, control erosion and host beneficial insects
  • Creating a biodiverse habitat in and around the vineyard with trees and other vegetation to attract beneficial insects and predators
  • Conserving soil through composting and manual weeding
  • Only applying pesticides when pests pose economic risks, and choosing materials that are effective but have low environmental impacts
  • Conserving water and water sources