By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Winemakers reflect on harvest of mixed blessings

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Comments

David S. Wall

Is there a "shake-up" in the Wine industry on the horizon?

Mr. Schaad may have prophesized a looming labor shortage is here and only is going to get worse.

I submit the issue of a labor shortage for all aspects of agriculture but with special emphasis on viticulture in Yamhill County is well under way.

Wineries, small, medium and large are competing for the same dwindling labor pool and this fact will initiate a "shake-up" in the wine industry in Yamhill County. There will be consolidations where one winery will "gobble-up" another but, even then labor for viticulture is unsustainable.

The main factors facing agricultural workers are; lack of housing, rising living costs (food, clothing, utilities, fuel, etc.),immigration enforcement and higher paying opportunities in the High-Tech and Service Economies.

In order to survive, the wine industry is compelled to create a "new workforce" to offset the agricultural-labor losses that vintners are experiencing this year and most probably for the foreseeable future.

The "new workforce" may be here already-College and High School students. Oregon has created "Outdoor School" for 5th and 6th grade school children.

Should "Outdoor School" be expanded and tailored to meet the educational requirements of College and High School students?

David S. Wall

Oregonian

Wineries have always had trouble finding labor. The crops don't need year round tending. Harvest is short and busy. Hiring high school and college kids would be a great idea, but they're in school during harvest. As a group, they don't like manual labor.

David S. Wall

Oregonian...

I apologize for not making my point(s) very clear. Please bare with me as I address your comments.

" Wineries have always had trouble finding labor."

Wineries haven't faced the impending immigration enforcement impacts upon the labor pool in addition to the variables I have already discussed. The cost of living in Yamhill County is only going to increase-unfortunately, wages for agricultural labor will remain stagnant.

" The crops don't need year round tending. Harvest is short and busy."

Vineyard maintenance requires constant monitoring (pruning, mulching, soil analysis, irrigation issues, etc.) once the harvest has occurred.

" Hiring high school and college kids would be a great idea, but they're in school during harvest."

If "Outdoor School" was expanded and tailored to meet the educational requirements of College and High School students, students could earn educational credits. There are STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) opportunities as well as the Trades (Carpentry, Plumbing, Welding, Electrical) which could also be tailored to fit the program. Actually, there are many additional disciplines which could be integrated into the "Outdoor School" curriculum.

" As a group, they don't like manual labor."

I don't agree. If offered a chance to earn educational credits, gain job experience while getting paid students might change your opinion.

Thank-you for your thoughtful comments.

David S. Wall

Oregonian

My mistake - I casually responded to the first person's comments without being fully prepared to defend my positions. Then I looked up the identity of that person and realized a response to the second post would be a complete waste of time.

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