Vineyards struggle with harvest with labor shortage and competitive salary



MEDFORD, Oregon – It’s harvest season in the vineyards of Rogue Valley, but workers are hard to find. With many hemp and cannabis companies paying more and a shortage of jobs across industries, some wineries are getting creative in getting their grapes.

“We have to do it. So we did it.

At Hummingbird Estate in Central Point, General Manager Kristina Alvarez got her hands on this harvest a lot more.

“We handled the logistics once he was off the vine – much more than ever,” she explained. She says it is difficult to find labor for the harvest and that if there is, they are outbid. This is reflected at the Domaine.

“Even last year, with the movement of hemp to the valley, our rates went up because the workforce became more competitive,” Alvarez said. The Hummingbird estate isn’t alone – many wineries polled by NBC5 News said they face the same issues.

Some are trying to match the high wages offered on hemp and cannabis farms or to keep workers on a sliding scale that reflects demand. But most are taking matters into their own hands. A vineyard owner was even in the fields picking grapes when NBC5 called.

“Everyone’s going to have to do a little bit more to accommodate other people’s fewer hours and less body to actually get the job done,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez says that at their estate, they take care of the transportation of the grapes so their vineyard management group can focus on finding teams for the field itself.

“We got the truck, we got the trailer, instead of them spending their time finding a guy to bring everything here. “

But her husband’s construction business gave her a boost. She admits it saved her a lot of upfront costs, which other wineries may face.

“If I hadn’t had this advantage, we would never have been able to invest in trucks, trailers, lynxes, forks, all of it quickly,” she said.

Alvarez says affordable housing is also playing a role in the valley’s labor shortage. In his own words, if you can’t live somewhere, you can’t work there.

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