Pointing Us Where We Should Be Looking

I’m not sure who’s responsible for determining which links to news stories are placed in WineBusiness.com’s Daily News Links that get sent to my e-mailbox and are read first think every morning. I think it might be Editor Cyril Penn. Today’s e-mail was interesting.

The lead story..or link…was to this story: "Judge Blocks Effort to Use No-Match Letters To Fire Illegal Workers".

The program blocked by the U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer is described this way in the article:

"Under the new regulation, the government planned to send warning
letters this fall to 140,000 employers with a total workforce of more
than 8 million. Officials said those employers typically had at least
10 workers whose Social Security numbers on W-2 tax forms did not match
the government’s database.

The so-called no-match letters would give the employer 90 days to
resolve the discrepancy and an additional three days for an employee to
submit a new, valid number. After that, an employer who failed to fire
the worker would be subject to civil fines or criminal prosecution."

RobledoWhat does this have to do with who decides what links go into WineBusiness.com’s Daily News Links? Well consider nowhere in this article is wine mentioned once. No where. Yet, it’s the "top link" in their e-mail today. Clearly someone at WineBusiness is thinking…and doing a real service with their thoughtful Daily News Links.

Few issues affect the California wine industry more than that of migrant workers, immigrants and illegal aliens. I have no idea how man of those who are right now furiously trying to get grapes off the vines Napa and Sonoma before tomorrow’s and Monday’s rain its. But it is a good sized numbers. Were these folks, legal or not, not available to do this work you’d see the price of your wine skyrocket as labor costs soared and the wine that was available fell simply because grapes would be left hanging on the vine. Some growers would simply get out of the business, while others would be forced out for lack of revenue.

Cyril and the folks at Wine Business.com know this and that’s why this story is front and center, even though not a single mention of wines or vineyards can be found in it.

I’m not sure what my position is on illegal immigration…it depends on which demagogue is ranting at me. I do know this, there is an awful lot of nasty insinuations and outright bigoted views being tossed the way of the Mexicans and immigrants that are in this country, legal or not. What bothers me a lot is the suggestion made by some that these folks will never integrate themselves into the American Culture.

Now despite the fact that the "American Culture" has changed radically over the past 40, 70, 100 and 200 years, one aspect of this country’s defining nature has not: that uniquely American entrepreneurial drive; that desire to improve the prospects of your children.

Looking for an example of what I mean?

Meet Reynaldo Robledo Sr. Better yet, head over to MyWinesDirect.com where they are running a story on his success with Robledo Family Winery in Sonoma and watch MyWinesDirect’s video interview with Mr. Robledo. To quote a short portion of the story:

"Reynaldo Robledo Sr. came to the U.S in 1968, crossing the border from
Mihocan Mexico on February 25 and starting work the very next day. He
started pruning grapes on February 26 in Calistoga; “the grapes, that’s
all I knew”. It’s this love of grapes, an intuitive touch, dedication
and hard work that combined to earn him the ‘American Dream’.

The image of the oak tree could not say it any better. Reynaldo and his
wife Maria head the tight knit family raising nine children. Imagine
seven sons and two daughters, and all are now involved in the business.
Reynaldo tells us that sometimes they conspire and all grant each other
time off. But he laughs. It’s clear he runs the show and all are
accountable to keep up the family traditions, integrity and quality

Read the rest of the story.

But wait, there’s more. Amelia Ceja. She is the first Mexican-American woman to head a winery. That
winery is Ceja Vineyards with vineyards located in Sonoma Valley and Carneros.

I could go on and discuss the fact that a huge percentage of vineyard foremen and managers in Napa and Sonoma are of Hispanic origin, many of them having arrived here like Mr. Robledo.

These and others like them are the folks who won’t integrate into the American Culture? This is what they said about Italians, Germans, Jews, Irish and Asian who all at one time or another immigrated in large numbers to the United States.

The U.S. is going to deal with the immigration and illegal alien issue eventually, probably in the next administration. If you live on the West Coast or in the Southwest you know that the way we deal with this issue is not going to be in the way that Judge Breyer blocked. Rather, we are going to find a way to make sure that those here and working and keeping industries like wine and grapegrowing humming along are not  thrown out of the country.

In the mean time, congrats to WineBusiness.com for catching this story and making sure their list of Daily Wine News readers saw it. Congrats to MyWinesDirect.com for a great story and interview with Mr. Robledo.

3 Responses

  1. razmaspaz - October 12, 2007

    There is arguably no other industry in America where immigrants are so important to its current state. Many industries owe the back breaking portion of their growth to immigrants, but I don’t think anywhere else is the leadership of an industry so influenced by immigrants. Wine is distinctly European. Most, if not all of the great California Wine Producers have immigrant names on their labels.
    I know that keeping our imigrants legal (and thus keeping tabs on who is in our country) is important. But I don’t think most (and i stress most)critics of illegal immigrants are concerned about our borders. I think they are interested in hiding behind it as a means to discriminate and hate.
    I know that the wine industry has a self interest in maintaining the flow of labor from Mexico, but I hope that they see it as a cause to stick up for the immigrants that their product owes so much to.

  2. Tom Wark - October 12, 2007

    Indeed!! Well put.

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