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San Joaquin USA vineyards among nations largest!

Three San Joaquin County-based farming companies are among the largest grape growers in the United States, according to American/Western Fruit Grower magazine.

The leading grower, with 40,000 acres of vineyards, is Bronco Wine Co. of Ceres.

But No. 2 is Lodi's Vino Farms, with 16,000 acres of vineyards under cultivation.

John Kautz Farms, also of Lodi, is No. 7 on the magazine's list with 6,500 acres of grapes under cultivation, and No. 16 is Stokes Farms of Thornton, with 4,000 acres.

An honorable mention should go to DFV Wines with 5,000 acres of vineyards, the 10th-largest grower. Now headquartered in Napa, it was founded as Delicato Family Vineyards in Manteca.

While all these leading producers have vineyards both in San Joaquin County and throughout California's other leading wine regions, their success is explained by the Lodi area's rich soils and a climate influenced by cool ocean breezes flowing in from San Francisco Bay, growers said.

Lodi, CA wine the big winner at Silicon Valley "Fastest-Growing" awards dinner

Lodi, CA wine the big winner at Silicon Valley  "Fastest-Growing" awards dinner

Fifty-two firms were honored as the fastest-growing private companies last night at a dinner hosted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The San Joaquin Partnership and San Joaquin County shared a sponsorship table featuring Michael David "Earthquake" Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel wines, which were presented to each of the honorees. Pictured ClikcMailMarektingCEO Marco Marinis Harry Mavrogenes, San Joaquin County chief deputy county administrator with

ClickMailMarketing CEO Marco Marin. 

The San Mateo email marketing technology firm saw 80.1 percent growth from 2010 to 2012. Marin says the decision that most influenced  his company's fast growth: Hiring the "A" player and his biggest mistake: Not firing fast enough. Marin's advice for other entrepreneurs: Listen to your gut.

Also honored last night was ECS Refining, one of the nation's

EDA to support North Valley Assessment Project

The Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration has agreed to support the North San Joaquin Valley (NSJV) regional economic assessment project. Announcement of the award was sent just before the federal government shut-down and with matching funds from the University of the Pacific secured, acceptance of the funding was made last week.   

The proposed Economic Development Administration project would develop a regional economic assessment of the North San Joaquin Valley (NSJV). Consisting of three adjoining California counties: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced; the region is about the same size as Connecticut (4,821 square miles). With an abundance of rich farmland and vineyards, it is noted for a large variety of agricultural products. The NSJV is also an intersection of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento Capital Region, and the South San Joaquin Valley Region.     

Transportation projects get state funding boost

Road and rail projects in San Joaquin County are set to receive about $30 million of the $359 million in transportation funding announced by state officials Wednesday.

For drivers, about $10 million will be used to make improvements to Highway 4 in the Delta west of Stockton. The Bacon Island Rehabilitation Project covers about 12 miles' worth of road, widening and upgrading intersections, adding shoulder and median rumble strips, upgrading drainage and repaving where needed.

For rail passengers, $20.5 million is headed toward building 3.8 miles of double railroad track between Stockton and Escalon. It will improve the on-time performance of Amtrak's San Joaquin routes using the tracks, according to the California Transportation Commission. The route connects Stockton to Sacramento, Oakland and Bakersfield.

PG&E and Electric Vehicles International Partner on New Hybrid Work Truck

Thanks in part to a $2.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission, PG&E will pioneer the utility industry's first electric hybrid drivetrain Class 5 work trucks.  These vehicles, manufactured by Electric Vehicles International (EVI) in Stockton, will offer fuel savings as well as exportable energy that can be used to power the grid during planned or unplanned outages.  The trucks feature an all-electric range of 45 miles and fuel savings of up to 30 percent when the vehicles are operating in hybrid mode.

EVI developed the Range Extended Electric Vehicle utility trucks at its manufacturing facility in Stockton. The electric vehicle manufacturer designed, built and tested the trucks in partnership with PG&E and the California Energy Commission.

San Joaquin USA Solar Outlook Sunny

New farms going up near Lodi, Lockeford

 Two solar power projects are underway in the San Joaquin County countryside south of Lockeford and east of Lodi.

Ecos Energy LLC, a renewable-energy development and service company based in Minneapolis, is building Bear Creek Solar, a 1.5-megawatt project on Jack Tone Road south of Hillside Drive and a 1-megawatt project, Kettlemen Solar, on Kettleman Lane east of Jack Tone.

Chris Little, Ecos' development director, said when completed in about a month, the two projects should produce enough electricity to supply nearly 930 typical California households, each consuming about 6,800 kilowatt-hours of power a year.

And because of the relatively modest size of the projects, their production will feed directly into Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s local distribution grid to be used by utility customers in the immediate area.

Pacific Ethanol starts making corn oil in Stockton

Facility will still produce ethanol 

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) of Sacramento has a new revenue stream flowing from its plant in Stockton's inland seaport industrial park.

It's corn oil, being made with Visalia-based Edeniq Inc.'s "Oil Plus" proprietary process.

"We are pleased to be producing corn oil at our Stockton plant," says Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol's president and CEO. "Corn oil is a high value co-product with multiple markets including animal feed and biodiesel. Corn oil production at our ethanol plants is an important strategy to further diversify our plant revenue streams and significantly improve operating income."

Corn oil production by ethanol plants that use raw corn to make ethanol, is becoming more common in the industry.