I’ve often thought as I walk through the vineyards that this crop could be described as an accountant’s dream… the vines have just been trimmed and they look so neat and orderly, all set out in straight rows with wires to hold any unruly growth nicely in place. Each row has a label stating variety and number.
And to add to the appeal, grapes have traditionally been pretty good at keeping the cashbooks in the black…but alas this is no longer an assumption that can be made. Our local paper tonight reported on the continuing pressure on growers caused by dropping fruit prices with one grower quoted as saying: “It’s a break-even scenario. We’re not making any money.” Certainly a depressing place to be after all the work that goes into producing a crop. Aaron & I are fortunate with Fiasco in that we lease our vines from my folks on a year by year basis and so have little capital invested. If it all turns to custard we can walk away without too much pain. It is a different story when you own the vines and I feel for those that have borrowed heavily to establish their vineyards and who now face the prospect of having to pull out their grapes or to on-sell their vineyards at a loss. It’s going to take time for demand to catch-up with supply and unfortunately there will be some casualties.
I know there are those who will have little sympathy for grape growers and who will be smiling at their possible demise, labelling them as greedy and driven to viticulture by dollar signs. However I believe that to borrow substantial amounts to risk on a crop of any sort is gutsy. Not only are you at the mercy of the weather and a myriad of other natural factors that can destroy your investment but you also risk changes in market demand – consumers can be an unpredictable lot! To throw your savings into it and give it a go regardless suggests if anything less of an obsession with money. And if it works these risk takers bring rewards that spread right through their communities. As a prominent big spender in the industry once said to my Dad, “I couldn’t give a **** if I lost the lot, as long as I’ve still got my wife to cuddle up to at night.” He risks his money because he knows he has a solid base, he knows what really matters and that this will see him through.
But enough of that, on the positive side the early bunches are looking full of potential and the worldwide recession is supposedly over…roll on the ripening of juicy grapes to taste test daily!