Sep 30, 2015Labor shortages documented during California harvest
This year, California farmers planted fewer acres and let go of hundreds of farm workers. But despite the downsizing, labor shortages are being reported across the state.
Contra Costa County winegrape grower John Viano of Viano Vineyards said a recent heat wave and a lack of employees to harvest the grapes meant family members had to move quickly and hand-harvest the crop by themselves.
“Harvesting is not something that we are unaccustomed to, but we usually get help,” Viano said. “It got to a point where we said as a family that if we are to get our crop in on time, then we’re going to have to harvest it ourselves.”
Viano, whose winery has been in business since the 1940s, said he arranged for a few crews to come work, but they did not show.
“In the last three or four years, it has become difficult to obtain workers, mainly for harvest,” he said. “This has got to be one of the worst years to get the crop harvested that we’ve seen in a long time.”
Viano’s grapes, which include zinfandel, cabernet and sangiovese varietals, must be hand-harvested, which makes the job much more labor intensive.
“We’ve picked about 70 percent of the crop now,” Viano said. “We are not alone. There are other wineries in the county that were supposed to have crews show up and they didn’t show.”
According to the publication, strawberry growers along the central coast are also facing labor challenges.