Today’s Los Angeles Times has an extremely interesting article regarding the 2007 harvest and how certain political issues are impacting many Napa Valley wineries.
At this time each year the valley sees an influx of seasonal workers who are absolutely pivotal to the annual harvest. The workers are hired to head out into the vineyards to cut the precious wine grapes from the vines at just the right time and pile them into bins to be transported back to the winery.
Heading into the ’07 harvest, many wineries and vineyard managers had “…concerns there would be labor shortages as a result of the ongoing efforts to tighten the U.S. border with Mexico” according to the article. As a result, new innovations are taking place around mechanical harvesters and some local wineries, Clos du Val in particular, are experimenting with the less labor-intensive method for harvesting their grapes.
Here’s a key excerpt from the article:
Although half of all of the wine grapes in California are harvested by machine, less than 10% of Napa’s grapes are harvested mechanically, vintners estimate. The stigma of industrial farming plus a clear sense that quality demands hand-harvesting has kept most vintners from considering it. That’s changing, however, with concerns about a labor shortage. A surprising new clutch of ultra-premium wineries this year used mechanical harvesters, if only on an experimental basis.
The full article is well-worth the read if you have a few minutes, you can find it here.