The Record – “Lungren to hear concerns"

Mar 22, 2011
In The News

Washington, D.C., Mar 22, 2011 -

Rep. Dan Lungren, hoping to get an earful from Calaveras County's wine industry, plans a listening session Wednesday at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys.

The Republican from Gold River recently agreed to share chairmanship of the Congressional Wine Caucus, a bipartisan group that aims to educate and influence legislative colleagues on issues affecting winegrape growers and vintners.

Lungren recognizes the key role the industry plays in the Mother Lode economy.

"Though we have some very large wineries in the Third District, the majority are small businesses with unique challenges and needs," he said upon accepting the caucus co-chairmanship.

Stephen Kautz, president of Ironstone Vineyards, said he wants to make sure Congress maintains programs that benefit small farms.

A market access program that helps small producers export their wines to foreign countries is especially helpful, since the growing export market provides more opportunities than the more mature domestic market, he said.

"California zinfandel is something people are familiar with, they've heard about it and they want to try it," he said. "There is a chance to get a foothold in some of those markets."

Kautz also hopes Lungren hears from area growers about the need for farm labor and the increasing burden of government regulation. "In California, it is still about protecting the family farm," he said.

Lungren's listening session will run from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Ironstone Vineyards, 1894 Six Mile Road.