Grape Growers Get Earliest Start to Season Ever

early grapes

THERMAL, Calif. - Despite California's drought crisis, here in the Coachella Valley, it's turning out to be a great season for grape growers.  
"We're just real excited, it started out to be a great season and we look forward to it continuing on," said Louis Gonzalez, Grape Manager at Richard Bagdasarian Incorporated in Mecca.

Grape growers are getting the biggest head start to their season ever, thanks to perfect weather conditions this year, that allowed crops to matured by mid-April.
"We had perfect temperatures... 85 degrees, and for the first time we harvested on April 23 which was unprecedented. We've never seen the harvest this early, the earliest I recall in my 30 years was April 28," said Gonzalez.

That means Coachella Valley growers are getting to distribute their grapes first, beating out competitors like Mexico.

"This means a lot for us... we get a jump on the market, and it's been a nice growing season so we get a nice quality (grape), so its very advantages for us," said Gonzalez.

The early start doesn't just mean good news for growers, for farm workers, it means an earlier pay check.

"They get in and start picking several weeks earlier than they normally do, so it means earlier revenue for them," added Gonzalez.

And for consumers, lower prices at the grocery store.

"A lot of the Los Angeles chain stores will come in, they get really excited when Coachella begins, because we can offer local deals for the consumer, so it works out good," Gonzalez said.  

Gonzalez also notes that even though California is in the midst of a drought crisis, none of the Coachella Valley's spring crops are affected. But warns as the drought continues, it will impact valley growers down the road.     

"As of right now it is not directly affecting us although the water district is watching us, making sure we're managing our water properly," Gonzalez said.

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