The statewide strategy for slowing or stopping the spread of the GWSS and for finding solutions to PD has been so successful that growers sometimes get lulled into complacency.

This year, for example, Giboney said there’s been an uptick in PD again in the General Beale Road area. He attributes this to the “difficulty of treating the pest where we have an interface of different cropping patterns, windbreaks, and the importance of maintaining good weed management programs, rouging out infected vines and continuing to apply imidacloprid.”

It was discovered that a local grower hadn’t done any of those things, said Giboney, who also is the chairman of the Kern Tulare Consolidated Table Grape Pest and Disease Control District.

A similar experience quickly hit home with Nick Palumbo, a wine grape grower and winery owner in Temecula.

“A few years ago I learned my lesson,” he said. “I got cocky and said ‘We’re not seeing the bug anymore. There’s no more pressure.’ And I actually didn’t treat. But the following year I saw bugs, and so you really do have to monitor and keep up with treatments.”

Both instances point to the need to maintain ongoing and vigilant outreach and education programs, said Bob Wynn, director of the CDFA Pierce’s Disease Control Program.

“Our biggest fear is complacency, which is one of the downfalls of success,” said Wynn. “A lot of people think, ‘We’ve taken care of the problem because we haven’t heard about it.’  But that’s because we have ongoing management systems that take care of the problem. I mean 11 years ago you would never have guessed that (Temecula) would be expanding the plantings in that area.”

But just look at the Temecula Valley now to understand what’s changed: From 12 wineries in 1999, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association website today lists more than 50 growers and 34 wineries. All across the valley acreage is being cleared and new vines and varieties are being planted. A thriving agritourism industry has developed. Several wineries offer full-service accommodations along with golf packages and spa and wedding facilities. Existing wineries are expanding and new ones are under construction or in planning phases.

“Everyone can be proud of the cooperation that occurred between all these different stakeholders,” said Giboney. “This program has resulted in a significantly reduced level of PD and populations of GWSS.”