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Napa Valley
Vineyards in Fall
Book: Harvest
Sustainable Agriculture in the California Vineyards
"Seeds of Hope" - Growing a Future in the Garden of Man
Article and pictures by Brad Perks

wine press at harvest Inspirational Harvest looks at the beauty of sustainable agriculture in the wine vineyards of the California's Napa Valley. These vineyards have unique forces in play when compared to other areas of agriculture. The crop sustains a giant economy, tourist trade and fashionable life style. Sonoma and Napa Valley is a world showcase setting the standards for others to follow.

Brad Perks new book is dedicated to the workers in the fields that help make everything thrive. It pictures the beautiful blending of nature with vineyards that will sustain an abundant harvest. Positive pictures are easy to embrace when they tell an encouraging success story.  Today’s actions will decide tomorrow's harvest. This book shows how proper stewardship of the environment will help us grow a future in the gardens of man.

Growing Economic Benefits of the Wine Industry

Nature blending with vineyards at sunrise in the Napa Valley All varieties of grapes combined are the second biggest crop grown in the United States. Wine has become the most valuable finished agricultural product from California. The economic benefit to the state totals $45.4 billion dollars including revenues from allied industries and the tourist trade.

The popularity of wineries continues to grow. 14.8 million people come to visit the wine country each year. Wineries and vineyards are the second most popular tourist destination in California according to the Wine Institute.

Wine is big business in California and getting bigger. 90% of all U.S. wine production comes from California. Wine grapes are planted on 522,000 acres in 46 counties of this state. 760,000 tons of red wine grapes were crushed in 1988. Production increased to 2.2 million tons of red wine grapes in 2005. The increase was nearly 300% since 1988.  There was a 35% increase from 2004. The demand for California grapes is growing.

Inspirational Harvest provides a snapshot of sustainable agriculture in Napa and Sonoma County. California has 1367 commercial wineries considered bricks and mortar. Napa County has 391 and Sonoma has 260. This region of Northern California is home to nearly half the wineries in the entire state. This agricultural area can become the leader for others to follow.

oak tree bordering vineyards at sunset in the Napa Valley In 1940 there were 474 bonded winery premises registered in California. 55 years later the number had doubled to 944. The next ten years brought accelerating growth. The amount increased 250% when the number reached 2,275 wineries in 2005. I wonder about the potential growth and sustainable harvest a 100 years from now.

California wines are experiencing explosive growth on the world market. An agreement was reached in 2006 that is opening new doors with the European community. Negotiations on this historic agreement began in 1983. The agreement provides our wineries with long term access to European markets. Sales from Asian are increasing at the same time. Demand for wine in the U.S. is on the rise. Americans are expected to become the largest wine consumer by 2008.

Exports of U.S. wines have grown dramatically. The United States exported 35 million dollars of wine in 1986. 672 million dollars of wine was exported in 2005. This shows a growth rate of nearly 2000 percent, or 20 times more in 20 years. The volume of wine went from 7.3 to 102.5 million gallons in the same time frame. The potential exists for agricultural sprawl as demand continues to increase.

The world is embracing the quality of California wines. Experts think that part of the attraction is the state's lifestyle and natural beauty. Inspirational Harvest uses this same beauty to promote sustainable agriculture. Smart choices today will help maintain the quality of liferoses border wine vineyards in the Napa Valley California people enjoy in the wine country.

The wine industry also provides 207,550 jobs in California. A healthy job base is good for the entire economy of the region.

Growing Population

The United States reached a population of 300 million people in October of 2006. California has the biggest population of all 50 states. Demand for California homes and land is accelerating. California has more people than any other state with 37 million. The population increased 1.2 % during the year of 2005.

The wine country in Northern California is a fashionable place to live. It offers gourmet restaurants, relaxing spas, and beautiful scenery. The quality of life and booming economy make development profitable. The population in Napa County natural hillsides blending with vineyards overlooking the Napa Valley increased 1.1% in 2005. Cloverdale in Sonoma County experienced a 2.7% increase in people the same year. A fast growing population alongside an expanding wine industry deserves our considerate attention.

People are helping protect their quality of life by encouraging producers to make environmentally sound choices. Inspirational Harvest shows how sustainable agriculture is helping the health of the land where we live and we grow.

Consumers are part of the decision making process. I saw swift changes in the marketplace when consumers wanted low-carb and low fat foods. Organic products are now growing in popularity as baby boomers reach middle age. Consumers cast their vote of approval each time they purchase products. They have a powerful voice producers must listen to. Consumers are a part of this success story in the wine industry.

Nature and Vineyards - The 50/50 plan

Proper stewardship of the environment is essential to sustainable agriculture. Caring for the land will help provide a future of abundant harvests. Ernest and Julio Gallo started planting California vineyards in the 1880’s. Their business has thrived for over a century. Matt Gallo is the thirdhealthy ecosystem along the Napa River showing nature blending with vineyards generation of his family growing wine in California. His grandfather Julio planted many of the vines he cares for today.

Matt has a simple yet effective 50/50 plan. Gallo preserves one acre of wild lands for every acre planted. The Gallo family knows where to draw the line between vineyards and nature. Matt Gallo set a standard worthy of notice. Picturing these type of success stories gives people hope and encouragement.

U.S. farmers and vintners are learning the benefits of on-farm features that support wildlife. An effort is underway to restore the Napa River. They plan to purchase 300 parcels of land along a 6.9-mile stretch of the river where salmon used to spawn. Wildlife will benefit greatly by reestablishing a healthy riparian zone. This corridor plans to use non-toxic pest control that is wildlife friendly. Other accommodations like tail water ponds, windbreaks, cover crops, and mulching are also part of the story.

World Showcase

open space near vineyards The Napa Valley and Sonoma County were America's first viticulture areas. They have become world famous. We present these wine growing regions on the international stage. These two counties demonstrate the United States commitment to sustainable agriculture. The North Coast regions have become our most visible world showcase. What we do here matters. California is setting the standard for others to follow during this dramatic increase in production and population.

“The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin taught us that “we help save what we love”. I fell in love with the California vineyards while taking their picture. I want to share this first hand visual feast. Pictures show the beauty of natural areas blending with the vineyards, as they continue to grow.

In Conclusion

California vineyards are under tremendous pressure to expand production in a growing world market. The international market for U.S. wine is booming. Healthy ecosystems will help sustain a future of abundant harvests and grow this economy. Inspirational Harvest pictures the beautiful blending of nature with vineyards. It is a mind set on the ground floor of practicing sustainable agriculture.

Napa and Sonoma Valley are in the world spotlight. They are positioned to set new standards of sustainable agriculture and smart development.

People treasure wine country living. The Napa Valley lifestyle has become increasingly more fashionable. This growing popularity and boominggrapes at harvest in the California vineyards economy is attracting more commercial and housing development. Inspirational Harvest captures beauty worth carefully cultivating. It illustrates scenic treasures in a landscape we can love and nourish. Finding a healthy balance between vineyards and nature will help maintain the quality of life people value in the wine country.

Inspirational Harvest illustrates the success of producers and industry professionals who are committed to the practice of sustainable agriculture.  Farmers, farm workers, the local community, consumers and the economy will all benefit. Sustainable agriculture is a gift we can give our future. Visualize the big picture worth a thousand words.

The California vineyards can lead the way in promoting sustainable agriculture. My grandchildren will tell the greatest measure of success for Inspirational Harvest. I hope they are still enjoying the natural beauty and quality of life in Napa and Sonoma County. Today is when we claim the future harvest of tomorrow.

The road ahead is what we leave behind.

© Story and pictures by Brad Perks. May not be reproduced without written permission.


United States Geologic Survey - USGS
California Wine Institute
University of California at Davis
University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
California Department of Food and Agriculture
California Certified Organic Farmers Trade Association - CCOF
Napa Valley Vintners Association
Napa Wine Company
Gallo of Sonoma
Central Coast Vineyard Team – Tourist Attractions
California Dept. of Finance, Demographic Research Unit

Harvest is Teamwork  - Press Release

There is a small and almost obscure plaque along the Silverado Trail. It shows appreciation for ALL the people that help make Napa Valley great. It takes a team of people to raise a vineyard. I dedicated my new book Harvest to the workers in the field for being an important part of the team.

teamworkGrowing up I learned to celebrate the players, the coaches and the owners on the football field. They became stronger as teams of people working together. I now see the workers in the vineyards as valuable members of the teams of people making wines. Their hard physical labor helps make a sustainable harvest possible. I celebrate this teamwork and offer the workers my appreciation for what they do. It is a good time to say thanks to ALL the members of this team.

Some people in the
Napa Valley live in wealth and style. Some workers sweat and struggle to survive. The workers in the fields deserve a safe and welcome place to call home. Their efforts contribute to the success of the wine industry. I am grateful for the Latino and Hispanic workers that help grow an abundant harvest.

Steve Irwin also inspired me to create Harvest. The Crock Hunter believed we would help save what we learned to love. I fell in love with the beauty of the
Napa Valley appellations while capturing them on film. It became an adventure getting to know the different seasons of this rich land. I see how the tasteful blending of nature with vineyards helps create this magnificent agricultural preserve. Nature is refreshing the health of the land in this green garden of man.

I wanted to share the beauty I discovered in the Napa Valley. I hope people will want to help grow a future that is sustainable. A future that is good for things wild, like the salmon trying to spawn in the Napa River. I hope we all do our part as a member of the team. We can each learn to take green baby steps that are good for the environment, and good for the health of the workers in the fields.

We see tremendous growth all around us. The number of wineries increased 250% between 1995 and 2005. Wine grape production has increase 300% since 1988. It makes we wonder how far down the road will we be in 25 years. The road ahead is what we leave behind for the next generation to reap and sow.

I applaud fundraisers like Auction Napa Valley. They show us creative ways to help care for all of our people. I am thankful for organizations like the Napa Valley Land Trust. They protect over 50,000 acres of land that helps maintain the beauty and health of the
Napa Valley. They connect kids with nature by providing education about the natural environment. The vistas in Harvest were only possible with the natural habitat they help preserve as forever wild.

My favorite quote is from Ansel Adams who said: “sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter”. I also discovered you need to get out in the rain to find your rainbows. It was time for me to share the promise at the end of this rainbow. It is the right place and time to care for the land, and celebrate ALL the people on the team that make this Harvest possible.
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VIneyards in Fall
Book: Harvest
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