Recently I spotted one of these CHP trucks on the highway.

It brought me back to my days as a deputy weighmaster and when during the harvest time of year, you didn’t want to see one of these pulling into your winery. (Not that you ever did) One of the most common reasons a CHP truck would be pulling into a winery during harvest is that they were following a grape truck. A grape truck they suspected might be over the legal weight limit. Pop quiz for all you former and current deputy weighmasters: What is that legal weight limit for a truck on a California highway? Answer: 80,000 pounds. So if a full grape truck arrives at your scale and that initial gross weight comes in at 81,500 pounds for example then you as the receiving winery can be liable for any CHP tickets issued.

I didn’t want this post to be entirely a scary-toned downer, but more of a reminder / wake up call to anyone who is involved in any weighmaster responsibilities at a winery but has not been familiarized with some of the basics of the position.

So along those lines here are my top 5 deputy weighmaster success tips:

1. If your weigh tags are hand written (which most still are) NEVER cross out any of the weight information if you make a mistake. If this does happen you need to void that tag and start a new one.

2. Make sure your weigh tags have all the items required by the state regulating agency, the CDFA.

3. Use this same link above to access their weighmaster enforcement program guide which spells out all the details and requirements about qualifying as a deputy weighmaster and the do’s/don’ts of the job.

4. There can be two different signatures (one for the gross and one for the tare weight) on the same weigh tag. This is acceptable as long as both individuals are listed as deputies on the winery’s weighmaster license.

5. This last one is less related to the regulations surrounding weighmasters and more about streamlining the tracking of your grape deliveries. Look into moving away from hand written weigh tags towards a computerized version. This has many advantages mainly speed and eliminating multiple entry of handwritten data to a computer later.

The arrival of grapes at a winery is where the winemaking compliance tracking process begins. Don’t let it start off on the wrong foot by not being set up with an accurate weighmaster license and properly informed deputy weighmasters.

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