At Lange Twins Winery & Vineyards, the family is seeing their business fuel costs soar from about $250,000 four years ago to more than $1 million by the end of this season, Wine Business reports.
“Our pricing for the product we grow isn’t going up, so we’re absorbing the additional costs when our margins are already thin,” said Randall Lange, who owns the vineyards over a four-county area in Northern California with his twin brother Brad and their wives. Their children own the winery.
Many petroleum- and mineral-based fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides also have more than doubled in cost since last year.
“That’s affecting margins and creating a tremendous financial strain on producers,” confirmed Karen Ross, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
Growers are looking for every possible way to reduce costs.
“As one person said, ‘We’re no longer into recreational tillage because any time we take a trip through a vineyard that isnt absolutely necessary, we’re minimizing the profitability of this year’s situation,'”said Ross, who recently heard from many growers at seven agricultural state hearings.
“People emphasized the need for more research to help us come up with viable alternatives to increase our efficiency, which is the most important thing we can to do to improve how our industry operates over the next few decades,” she said.
Lange agreed, and said research into more drought- or mildew-resistant grapes might be part of the solution.
“We’re adjusting our agricultural practices as much as we can to reduce fuel use, but LangeTwins’ long-time philosophy of sustainable farming means we’ve already done a lot of that adjustment.”