New Zealand Wineries Need You!…and bring pruning shears

Do you know how to prune a vine? Do you think you could learn fairly quickly? In the mood for a working vacation in one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions?

MarlboroughvineyardYou might consider heading down to New Zealand. With only 10 weeks left in the pruning season, the Marlborough wine growing region is suffering from a severe shortage of labor. Reports suggest that more than 1000 more workers will be needed to get the pruning done in one of the few grape growing regions that make a specialty out of producing Sauvignon Blanc.

Here in California vineyard labor presents a real ethical dilemma. The vast majority of vineyard laborers, particularly during harvest time, consists of Hispanic men, a great many of which are illegal aliens. It is purely illegal to hire them. Yet, without them in the vineyard it is likely that California would have either a severe labor shortage or much higher priced wines. This is the case with California agriculture in general.

Some New Zealand winemakers are asking the government to provide amnesty to illegal workers until the pruning season is over. Whether or not the government chooses to do this, it’s likely that the shortfall in labor will be taken up by illegal workers.

It doesn’t appear the situation is likely to get better soon. Marlborough currently has about 37,000 acres of vineyards. Vineyards are anticipated to increase by one-third over five years.

PruningIn France, not long ago, it was students on holiday who would be employed to pick grapes. I’m not sure this kind of labor is still used in France today. However, I’m quite sure college students would never work in the vineyards in California. Why they would not is a post better left to a political blog.

So…looking for a little working holiday. I’m guessing the New Zealanders would be happy to have you right about now

Posted In: Wine News


2 Responses

  1. huge - July 8, 2005

    Interesting parallel with what goes on here. The Aussies also lack a large immigrant labor force, but tend to get by with improved mechanization (pruning and harvesting for example) but the higher the quality of the vineyard, the less machines you can use. I wonder if NZ hasn’t embraced the technology or if they are resisting for quality reasons.

  2. josi - April 17, 2007

    Just have a quick question. Could anyone answer me this question here, would be much appreciated.
    Which rootstocks are best suited to the short growing season experienced in cool climates?
    Thanks Josi

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