Farming a Sonoma Vineyard – A Labor-Intensive Love
June 18, 2012
Jeff Carlton of Sebastopol, Calif. certainly didn't grow up thinking he would be involved in agriculture. The young vineyard manager got involved by starting out as basic hand labor in the vineyards in Sonoma County. Twelve years later he couldn't see himself doing anything else but working the land.
"I am the three generations removed from the land people talk about," says Carlton. "My grandmother understands what I do for my job since my great grandfather farmed in Southern California. The rest of my family and I continue to explain what I do, they understand it is a lot of hard work and dedication."
That hard work is exactly what attracted Carlton to agriculture.
"I love being outside everyday and that it is something different everyday," said Carlton. "In my eyes everyone is connected to agriculture - we all eat after all."
Carlton works on the Dutton Ranch headquartered in Sebastopol, Calif. The family operation has 1100 acres of chardonnay and pinot noir wine grapes and 200 acres of organic apples.
"We have more than 60 different parcels of land," noted Carlton "The logistics of workers, trucks, equipment can be a challenge because of all the people."
Growing wine grapes is a labor-intensive crop. Carlton's job has continued to evolve since he started working for Dutton Ranch. He has gone from running tractors and heavy equipment to supervising the H2A workers that the ranch employs. He has learned Spanish and is involved in all of the steps from getting the workers from Mexico to California and meeting the requirements of the H2A agreement with United States Department of Agriculture.
"In California we have on-going issues with certain communities and groups that don't understand agriculture but want to regulate us." explained Carlton "Those of us in agriculture need to make communicating with the public about what we do as part of our day-to-day work. It's nice to have Farm American helping us get that message out."