Being a fifth generation Californian, agriculture has always been a part of my family’s history. My father however, grew up to become a banker but fifteen years later, he traded suits and ties for jeans and work boots. Getting into agriculture was a major lifestyle change that, as a family, we grew to embrace and love.
Harvest is always a busy and exciting time on the farm. Seeing the results of your hard work, love of farming, and dedication to agriculture is rewarding. Growing up on an almond ranch, harvest was a loud, dusty, and long couple of months. This year however, brought a different kind of harvest. There was no loud machinery and no large equipment. We had family and friends standing side by side with smiling faces and pairs of hands. It was our first wine grape harvest, picked and sorted by hand.
Following the devastating storms of January 2008, we decided it was time for a change on the family farm. The last few years have been spent transitioning from almonds to wine grapes and olives. The transition has been remarkable with less irrigation needed and much less dust. As grape vines mature, they become surprisingly self-sufficient. It has also been wonderful to see native species taking advantage of the shelter and habitat provided by the sweeping vine arms and big broad leaves. Even the dog seeks refuge under the vines on hot summer days. However, maturing vines and harvest is not where the story ends.
As we move into fermenting and bottling, the excitement and dedication continue. It is extremely fulfilling to not only nurture vines and harvest fruit, but then to create a finished product. There is nothing like actively participating in the entire “farm to table” process to love and understand the cycle of agriculture and to be a part of the earth. As I have grown into an adult and pursued my own professional and academic careers, it is for these reasons I am continually drawn back to the family farm.