Why farm? Why make wine?

A few thoughts on a rainy day when there is not much farming to be done…

As much as I love what I do, and don’t question why I’ve chosen this path, there has been a little something on my mind lately:  Why would anyone in their right mind become a farmer in California today?

The California farmer is the most regulated, ridiculed, under paid, mistreated, misunderstood figure in our society today. Others might argue that title belongs to teachers. Regardless of who gets top billing in this unfortunate position, the fact remains that farmers do not have an easy time of it in today’s economic and political climate.

I am a vintner, but I am a farmer first. And, while not all vintners are farmers, the great ones understand farming. I love the soil in my hands. I look at the decomposed granitic soil that our grapes love so much. I see the gold flecks of fools’ gold. I can’t explain it, but I know that having that type of connection to the land is just part of what it takes to be a farmer.

Looking at the soil crumble in my hands, smelling it, tasting it…Mmmmm. I think about the roots of our vines pulling that minerality up to the fruit, bringing complexity to the grapes and the wine.

Switching gears to more practical matters at hand…

I attended a social media presentation for farmers. When you have a chance, check out KNOWACALIFORNIAFARMER.COM. This website is where farmers get to tell their story, and share their life with the public. The event got me thinking about how many farmers there are in California – over  40,000 of us putting everything we have into our businesses. Like any business in other industries trying to do their best, the difference is that in today’s culture, ironically enough, California farmers seem to be at the bottom of the food chain, while actually they should be close to the top.

Throughout history, California has had a great farming culture, and wine grape growing has always been a big part of that culture. California wine making has taken its rightful spot on the global stage.

My passion for farming and wine making is fueled by these wines and all the individuals who touched and created this beautiful opportunity. Many of these hands belonged to farmers, farmers who love what they do, as I do.

There is a saying in wine making: “You can make bad wine from great fruit, you can make good wine from good fruit, but you cannot make great wine from bad fruit.” This being said, our prime ambition at Baiocchi Vineyards is to follow our passion while adhering to our core principles regarding the making of great wine, which is to say, the growing of high quality grapes – our way. And here we are back to farming.

We don’t ask how much – how much we will spend, how much time we will devote, etc. We farm to a philosophy, and that philosophy is, ‘do it and do it right for the product you want to create’. Sharon and I have worked tirelessly and spent every dollar we had, and even some that we didn’t, to adhere to this philosophy and achieve our dream. Soon, the first cycle in this process will be complete when we bottle our first vintage and share our passion with others.

Until next time…

Viva la Rhone,

Greg

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