I know, I know – “God Bless Texas” where the cattle are bigger, the men aren’t afraid to wear hub caps on their belts, and you can’t get Chardonnay to grow worth a damn! Whoops, that’s sure to rile some of you Texans up.
Farmers and ranchers don’t seem to be as much of a dwindling commodity in Texas for some reason. Here in California we’re scarce, few and far between. For some reason we aren’t the grower of choice by winemakers who instead prefer to work alongside vineyard management companies who fall into the “Big Agriculture” category managing not hundreds, but thousands of acres across the greatest wine growing regions of California. Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast.
I remember last year when we began working with a less than Infamous Winemaker who drives an Acura, gets regular manicures and refuses to drink cucumber infused cocktails because the taste reminds him of the cucumbers they put on your eyes at the spa.
Anyhow, one thing he did have going for him is that he took kindly to The Farmer and saddled right up to him at the bar. Both fans of margaritas and the Infamous Winemaker a fan of The Farmer’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot they’ve somehow managed to make their relationship work.
But, early on last season he wasn’t so sure about this whole grower/winemaker thing and was getting coaching from a friend on the East Coast about how to fit in with The Farmer. The Infamous Winemaker in turn relayed to me that the friend said, “I love Farmers, the Old Farmers, who work hard and are simple, easy to deal with, know their stuff, they’re the best.” And with that the Infamous Winemaker was in love, with The Farmer. The Farmer is still testing out the relationship. He’s such a man.
Farmers have become a rare breed. In the early 1900’s, roughly 80 percent of the population worked in farming. Today, that has dwindled to around two percent. No wonder most folks know very little about modern farming. I still get well known wine bloggers contacting me saying, “where can I get your wines.” Either they’re oblivious to Twitter account bio or they simply don’t get that there are actually a few of us out in Carneros, Napa Valley who just farm. Plain and simple.
In 2008, several farm groups got together in Lodi, California, to discuss the need for farmers to do a better job of talking with consumers. And who better to tell the story of farming than us the real farmers behind the food and wine grape you consume on a daily basis! And so the seed was planted for KnowACaliforniaFarmer.com.
Until Thomson Vineyards actually starts making its own wine, I’d encourage all of you to seek out the wineries and winemakers who are making wine from true wine grape farmers. Ask the winemaker who their grower is? Does a vineyard management company oversee the vineyard where their grapes come from to make their wine? How much time do they spend in the vineyard with their farmers?
It’s not enough to source locally for your food. It’s time to start sourcing local wineries that in turn source local farmers for their wine grapes. Whether that’s a Texas winery you source your next local wine from or Chardonnay from California - The Farmer thanks you for keeping him in the two percent of the population working in farming.
You can get to know more about how California farmers are turning sunshine, cool breezes and a love of growing things into some of the world’s best Chardonnay (and other crops) at KnowACaliforniaFarmer.com.
You may have good lookin’ men in boots Texas, but we’ll always have Chardonnay in California!
Image credit: goldmountaintrading.com
Jennifer R. Thomson “The Millennial Daughter” didn’t want to go to UC Davis, they grow corn there and she told The Farmer so. Instead she graduated from Napa High School as a two-sport athlete and went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where they have tractor pulls. She has a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Communications and made The Farmer proud when she brought back a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to California after two years spent the Panhandle of Florida. One of just four women in her cohort, her thesis is titled The Economic Climate of the California Wine Industry. Unlike other wine business marketing departments she Tweets directly from the vineyard while driving the Ford tractor, maintains a satellite office in San Francisco and is busy ruffling one Napa and Sonoma feather at a time. Meet her in person though, if you get the chance, and you’ll get a glimpse of just what the Fourth Generation of Thomson Vineyards is carrying on in Los Carneros – Legacy.