As most know, the Sacramento area produces a lot of wine. And those who know Lodi, know that that region is famous for it's old Old Vine Zinfandel.
But several grape growers in the area have recently found themselves forced to replace the old vines with new mechanized ones -- leaving some, like Kevin Phillips, worried that Lodi's most well-known wine could go extinct.
"The problem with this kind of planting now is there's no means for mechanization," Phillips, the VP of operations at Lodi's Michael David Winery, told ABC10 about old vineyards which produce Old Vine Zins. "So, everything that happens on this vine needs to happen by hand."
Piles of old zinfandel vines (~100 yrs old) are being bulldozed down & piled here in Lodi. Many grape growers can't afford to maintain them pic.twitter.com/JdzV7hb5zM— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) September 22, 2017
Picking grapes by hand requires more labor and Phillips explained that a labor shortage has made it harder to find people to do that.
"It started during the Obama administration and it's been exacerbated by the Trump administration, but the tightening of the border, raids on undocumented workers, it has just created a real shortage of labor, and then with the economy booming as well, people are gng into other industries," said Phillips.
In addition, labor costs have gone up and Zinfandel sales have gone down.
The confluence of forces, Phillips said, has made it difficult for grape growers to maintain the old vines.
Throughout Lodi, old vine vineyards -- some of which are nearly 100 years old -- are being bulldozed down. Piles of fully functioning vines are being piled up and burned.
"To most people, they're just going to see agriculture, you know, continue to move forward," said Phillips, about the old vines. "To me, it's tragic. These vines have so much history. They are a culture icon for Lodi and to see them go is just very sad."