By Kristen Bieler
In the fall of 2020, the grapes in Alison Sokol Blosser's vineyards were ripe—and she had no one to pick them.
Pandemic-related travel restrictions meant that none of her international harvest interns had arrived, and the local labor pool in Oregon's Yamhill County, where the winery is located, was essentially nonexistent. "We had to get the grapes off, so I pulled my kids out of school and my nephews and my parents—who hadn't picked grapes in 30 years—all worked in the vineyard."
Grappling with a similar labor shortage in 2021, Sokol Blosser, like so many desperate vintners across the U.S., turned to farm labor contractors for hiring needs, which drove up seasonal costs exponentially. "We need solutions; the labor crisis is not going away," she told Wine Spectator.