MW Topic of the Week - LABOR

Hi guys,

This time, let's focus on one specific question.

From the 2017 exam:

Labour supply for vineyard work is decreasing in many parts of the world. If this trend continues, how will this affect viticulture, and how can vineyard managers around the world best prepare for, and handle, a shortage of workers? 

Excited to hear everyone's thoughts!

Best,

Kelli, , Sarah Bray

Parents
  • Well the key is to look at the broad scope. What about established vineyards that are planted without mechanization in mind? Etna certainly can’t not be hand harvested. So the answer has to address both established and new plantings, managing labor forces, considering increases in pay (which will in turn affect price of the wine). Understanding required investments in machinery, training into spur from cane pruned vines, making sure vineyard row widths can cope with machinery... all of this needs to be addressed.

Reply
  • Well the key is to look at the broad scope. What about established vineyards that are planted without mechanization in mind? Etna certainly can’t not be hand harvested. So the answer has to address both established and new plantings, managing labor forces, considering increases in pay (which will in turn affect price of the wine). Understanding required investments in machinery, training into spur from cane pruned vines, making sure vineyard row widths can cope with machinery... all of this needs to be addressed.

Children
  • Great point , it definitely would depend on what the topography of a vineyard area is like. Not to mention that vineyards where it is not possible to accomplish machine harvesting are usually quite a bit more dangerous to work, and there may not be people willing to do this kind of work.

    Interested in others' thoughts on the different reasons for the labor shortage in different areas. Besides monetary...... 

  • The Douro had to be hand harvested once, too, then they widened the terraces and planted straight up the hill in places they could. I’m not saying places like Etna will evolve, or are even capable of evolving into another system, but growers of scale will be forced to look at alternatives going forward....or governments can change their views on making this kind of work accessible. It’s not like there are less people on the planet or anything. 

  • Economies of scale there, but well noted . And I think your point about governments is as well – I was just up at Tantalus Vineyards in the Okanagan, and they have two of their lead team members on the viti side that are part of a seasonal crew that comes up from Mexico every year, who they've trained and are some of their most skilled workers – they've been trying to sponsor them (families as well) but haven't been able to get that processed for several years now.