Farmers at Heart

August 22, 2014 No comments » [ssba]

A farmer’s work is never done

You may have heard us say once or twice that we at Ponte are “farmers at heart.”  What does that mean?  We’ll explore that, but first a little history… In 1984 the Ponte family purchased the vineyard in Temecula Valley and has been farming it ever since.  I envy them.  You see, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up.  I even have the artwork to prove it; Dated “Kindergarten, 1985” the messy, colorful picture shows my depiction of myself standing on a field of crops, holding a pitchfork and wearing a straw hat.  I have long brown hair, am wearing overalls and a crooked Crayola smile.  Carrots and lettuce poke out of the ground below my stick figure-self.  Towards the top of the paper is written: “When I grow up I want to be a farmer and a mommy.”

I’m happy to say I achieved 50% of that 5-year old’s goal.  The farming part didn’t work out so much.  Heck, I can’t even seem to grow a successful garden, but that’s another story.   I do know that when I landed an interview to work at Ponte back in 2005 and I read up on the company, I was immediately intrigued by their history as farmers and their love of the land. I knew they were winemakers, but farmers?

Farming is associated with the Midwest, right?  Sure, but did you know that no other U.S. state or combination of states can match the California’s output of agriculture per acre?  The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in the Golden State.

If it weren’t for California, most people wouldn’t be able to enjoy almonds,  artichokes, walnuts, kiwis, plums, celery or garlic – the state produces 95% or more of the total U.S. crop of each of these.  And the list doesn’t end there!  Figs, dates, olives, pistachios, pomegranates and more would be far more expensive and nearly impossible to find in America if not for California. Another big commodity?  Grapes.  In 2012 the state’s grape value came in at $4.449 billion, just behind the number 1 commodity, which was milk.  The total grape crush that year was a record high of 4,387,434 tons, with red wine varieties making up the largest share of that, followed by white wine varieties, followed by a small percentage of grapes used for raisins.  Yes, Ponte was a part of that number.

Not all farmers grow carrots

Ponte is one of California’s 81,700 hard-working farms and occupies about 300 acres of the state’s total farm acreage of 25.4 million.  The average farm size in California is 313 acres, so we’re right on par with everyone.

So, as you can see, the people at Ponte are not only farmers at heart, but actual grape farmers, striving to keep the grape crop producing delicious things.  Going one step further, Ponte does this with sustainability in mind as a way of respecting the land that has been so good to us, and as a way to ensure future generations will enjoy the fruits of California just as much as we do now.

It’s a fascinating place, this grape farm we call “Ponte,” and guests and Members will love the inside look we provide with our Vineyard Bus Tour.  You’ll enjoy a history of our property, wine tasting, a scenic drive through the vineyards and a captivating lesson in the art and science of winemaking.  Book your tour here.  While you’re here, enjoy lunch at The Restaurant which sources seasonal produce from local farms.  You can make reservations here.

The Wine Country Salad at The Restaurant at Ponte

And a final note about all farmers:

Farmers – whether they be grape, dairy, beef, produce, cotton or wheat farmers – are a special breed.  From sun up to sun down, and very often beyond that, they are working hard, 365 days a year.  They work in rain, snow, drought, heat to produce for the country.  Very few of them get rich, funding is constantly being cut for them, yet, they continue to farm.  Support your local farmer’s markets as often as you can.  You’re not only making a difference, you’re getting the best tasting and freshest crops you can find!

–Erica Martinez


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