Why Farmers Pray

Lest we forget that the wine industry is an agricultural industry, given to the whims of Mother Nature, the is now the 2006 Port vintage to consider.

Apparently a storm that rushed through Portugal last Wednesday did extensive damage to what would have been the Port wine vineyards in that country. Initial reports had the loss in the neighborhood of 80% of the vines due to severe hail.

Today the estimates of the loss and damage was said to be less than the originally stated 80%. Taylors, one of the top producers of Port, said they lost 750,000 of 1,200,000 vines…just over 60%. That’s still pretty devastating.

In my time working in the California wine industry and living in the North Coast I’ve never heard of such a loss of crop. But this doesn’t mean it can’t happen. But again, this is a reminder that those who grow any crop for a living are, at heart, gamblers. The purchasing of crop insurance sustains these gamblers in years when devastation occurs. However, the very chance that an entire crop, or most of it, makes it easier to understand why faith and religion tend to be stronger in agricultural regions.

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