University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors play a significant role in agriculture, connecting the entire industry with the latest science coming out of the university system and perhaps most importantly, offering farmers a real life person to discuss new ideas and to problem solve with.

Matthew Hoffman’s PhD research found our retired Viticulture Farm Advisor, Paul Verdegaal, to be the most connected individual in Lodi’s network of advice sharing among growers and outreach professionals (Hoffman 2015). Paul exemplified the mission of Cooperative Extension, which is to bridge researchers and farmers. Like all good farm advisors, Paul lived and worked in the community he served, taking a “boots on the ground” approach. He was committed to advising, educating, and searching for solutions collaboratively with Lodi growers and the Lodi Winegrape Commission. To learn more about Paul’s 31 years as a Farm Advisor, read Ted Rieger or Randy Caparoso’s articles.


Paul Verdegaal, Lodi’s Viticulture Farm Advisor Emeritus.

According to the UCCE San Joaquin County website, “For over 100 years, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) advisors, specialists, faculty and staff have been committed to:

      • Connecting Californians to their University
      • Leading the way to science-based solutions
      • Providing information that is trustworthy and not biased
      • Sharing research that is practical to use
      • Addressing local concerns as part of the community
      • Inviting the participation of concerned stakeholders
      • Facilitating problem-solving and outreach to address the state’s toughest challenges”

Paul Verdegaal officially retired on January 1, 2018 and since then the Lodi AVA has been without a Viticulture Farm Advisor for four years.

We were thrilled on November 29, 2021, when UC ANR posted a job announcement for a new Viticulture Advisor based in San Joaquin County. Applications were reviewed and initial interviews were conducted by a search committee in early 2022, narrowing down the hunt to two top candidates. Applications will continue to be accepted until April 28, but those received after January 28 will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

Lodi growers and interested members of the winegrowing community are invited to attend presentations by these candidates about their research and extension accomplishments and goals on Friday, April 15:

Top Candidate Presentations
Friday, April 15 | 9am and 11am
Zoom link:

Jaclyn Fiola
PhD Candidate – Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech School of Plant & Environmental Sciences
9:00 – 9:35am


Simin Sabaghian
PhD – Agricultural Microbiology (Food Science & Technology)
PhD – Plant Pathology
Bologna University (Italy)
11:00 – 11:35am

All those attending these presentations will have the opportunity to help the search committee evaluate the candidates by filling out an online survey afterwards. Attendees will also get about 10 minutes to ask questions of the candidates. Participation is highly encouraged!

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For more information on the wines of Lodi, visit the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s consumer website,

For more information on the LODI RULES Sustainable Winegrowing Program, visit or