Build It and They Will Come
Not too many years ago, vineyard labor was available during harvest, pruning, training, and cleanup in the fields. New laws for Arizona border control of illegal immigrants drove most of the experienced workers north to States that had more liberal attitudes toward temporary agricultural workers. Large and small growers were forced to hire field hands through a contract employer, often ending up with in-experienced workers. To solve the problem, growers turned to firms that bring degree wine makers and cellar workers from outside the US. Many novice wine makers, fresh out of school, relished the opportunity to learn about Arizona grape growing.
Our first crew, Simona Lemmetti, (Italian), Julie Jalais, (France) and Leica Maurommati (Greece) arrived with high enthusiasm and varying degrees of knowledge of English and the process of growing grapes and making wine. When they departed America, they went with knowledge to carry with them into other vineyards around the world. Grapes grown in Arizona are world class and they learned it firsthand. This year, rather than through an agency, the internet brought us Christelle Peruzzetto and Virginie Moran from France via New Zealand.
Nini remarked in a recent interview, “European’s are very surprised and excited about grapes in Arizona” . Arizona vineyards are not in their radar or understandable, according to the known wine world. It is a curiosity the two girls felt they must experience. Wanting to be a part of cutting edge wine making, they felt like trail blazers of something special. There is a lot going on in Arizona and a hidden secret they wanted to be a part of.
Christelle and Nini are experienced wine makers with degrees and knowledge. Rather than being a full time instructor, the two girls taught our wine maker a few new tricks. No baby sitting with these two; they knew what to do and were invaluable to our harvest and production of wine. Sadly, due to our restrictive work permits imparted by the US Government, they have to leave America soon; Chris back to family in France and Nini to a new adventure in New Zealand.
All is not lost however, as word of mouth, the fastest verbal transit in the world and the internet, is now bringing us interested workers from around the US and the world. Yes, grapes grow in Arizona and we make world class wines. It has been a long journey from raw, unplowed and weed-laden dirt, to row after row as far as the eye can see. Almost every grape variety will grow in our 4500 ft altitude vineyard, fed by an ancient underground glacial aquifer. Hot days and cool nights provide exactly what Arizona grown grapes love and thrive on.
My final words; EXPOSE YOURSELF TO ARIZONA WINES – taste what it is all about!