By Dayna Ghirardelli, Executive Director
The late harvest had so many of our members waiting anxiously for the time to hit the go button. There were some hot days that elevated hope and then wet and rainy days that elevated blood pressure. Nonetheless, it was all systems on go by the first week of October. Early mornings and late nights. Heck, for many it was the middle of the night! But that’s what we do as farmers, we rally our teams and get the job done!
Seeing the grape trucks running up and down our county roads and Highway 101 was a beautiful sight. However, the start of harvest was not a total sigh of relief as deliveries were backed up at so many wineries and processing facilities due to their receiving capacity. It was the kind of year where it all needed to happen at once, and the yields were fruitful (no pun intended) compounding the receiving issue; a good problem to have!
As the 2023 seasons wind down and come to an end, farmers prepare their vineyards and orchards for next year’s growing season. This is the time of year when all our Sonoma County farmers and ranchers prepare for the next growing season. Hay is being delivered and stored for winter months feeding at dairies and livestock operations. Management practices are being activated that will protect our soil, creeks, and natural resources during heavy rains and overly saturated periods of time. It has been said that we need to anticipate another wet winter… we’ll take it!
When asked, I usually say that Spring is my favorite season. It is a time of renewal and fresh beginnings, with the fields of green grass, flowers in bloom, and fruits starting to blossom. However, Fall in Sonoma County is pretty spectacular. The autumn colors of orange and yellow among the county’s rural landscapes are majestic, almost as if to be painted with a brush. There’s also a sense of chaos in the preparation for Winter that as a local person in agriculture I find wonderful. Call it a cliché, but this time of year truly is a time to be thankful.
Like most, I’ve experienced challenges over the past year. They have been accompanied by frustration, a lack of balance, a sense of loss, and mostly uncertainty. I look for opportunities and lessons in each of the trials, but sometimes I become overwhelmed and lose sight of the simple things. I look ahead at the year to come and the challenges that have already presented themselves that will consume most of my thoughts, time, and energy. As I start to feel engulfed, I take a step back and remind myself of life’s most important things: family, friends, and health. I also look around and realize how blessed I am to live and work in such a beautiful place. This directs my thoughts to the farms, ranches, dairies, vineyards, orchards, and the people behind them and I feel a renewed motivation. All the above lead me to a simple realization that I am thankful. This time of year, among the falling leaves, the autumn hues, and the chaos, I take a deep breath and find gratitude in the beauty of the season.