Forget the drought. Grapevines can deal with water shortages. Some California winegrowers have an even bigger problem these days: marijuana. No, it’s not that people are choosing to get high instead of drink wine. Wineries in northern California aren’t competing with marijuana for customers, they’re competing for workers, particularly in Mendocino, the epicenter of the domestic marijuana industry.
- The problem is particularly acute in Mendocino County, especially the remote, sparsely populated Anderson Valley.
- It’s a recent but not new dilemma in the northern reaches of wine country. Two years ago, prisoners from the Mendocino County Jail were enlisted to pick grapes.
- Migrant workers also are becoming more the exception than the rule, as wineries, growers and vineyard-management companies have been shifting to full-time crews.
“The status quo is hardly optimum, though. Marquez said that at one vineyard he uses, the grapes this year were picked eight days later than he had requested, which also results in a decidedly different wine.”