Remove the cork or cap – pour a glass of wine – it is almost time for central San Joaquin Valley (SJV) grape growers to celebrate if University of California (UC) plans come to fruition.

UC’s ‘drought’ on filling two open viticulture farm advisor positions in Fresno and Madera counties - the state’s top grape-producing counties by acreage - is almost over.

“The two viticulture farm advisor positions in Fresno and Madera counties are actively under recruitment,” said Bill Frost, UC’s associate vice-president of agriculture and natural resources, based in Davis. The division oversees Cooperative Extension (UCCE).

UC posted the UCCE job openings in late April. By early May, Frost had received several phone calls from people interested in the viticulture positions.

The job application deadline for the positions is July 7. The job posting for the Madera position and the Fresno position are available online.

There are a handful of unfilled viticulture farm advisor positions across California’s Grape Belt.

Sweet news

Recruitment for the UCCE Madera County viticulture advisor is especially sweet news. The position has been vacant for about four years, following the retirement of George Leavitt. The new advisor will serve grape producers in Madera, Merced, and Mariposa counties.

The Fresno position opened up about a year ago following the retirement of Steve Vasquez. He helped serve Madera grape growers in addition to assisting Fresno growers. The new Fresno advisor will strictly serve Fresno County.

Combined, grape growers in the Fresno-Madera contiguous counties farm more than 260,000 acres of grapes for wine, fresh market table grapes, and raisins. The acreage is about one-third of California’s 800,000 acres of grapes.

California is the nation’s largest grape producer.