Thank a Grower

Great wine is made in the vineyard

Farmers are some of the hardest working people.

My godfather was a farmer. On my Uncle Dave’s farm in south-central Kansas, he and my Aunt Mary Jo — and their seven kids — worked together to raise steers and some chickens, but their main focus was growing wheat, Turkish Red winter wheat, brought to the area by German-Russian Mennonites in the 19th century.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

From sunup to sundown, wheat harvests in the humid, hot summers of the Midwest challenged everyone in the family. My aunt told stories about making food to take to the workers several times a day and would be so covered in dirt and dust that each time she returned to the house, she’d have to take a shower.

Paul Harvey said it best in his speech, “So God Made a Farmer.” Whether you are religious, or just spiritual like me, the speech will give you chills — partly because of Harvey’s iconic voice, mostly because the words are so eloquently written.

Here’s a piece: “God said, ‘I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, “Maybe next year.” I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from “tractor back,” put in another seventy-two hours.’ So God made a farmer.”

Regardless of whether it’s wheat or winegrapes, grass seed or raising dairy cows, farmers are a special breed of people.

The May cover story also confirms how winegrowers should never be thought of as “behind the scenes;” this couldn’t be further from the truth: All great wine is made in the vineyard.

But unlike the winegrower’s partners in wine, the winemaker and winery owner, the growers rarely receive the media attention or achieve celebrity-like status. But, they don’t care: They are farmers.

Like my Uncle Dave — and farmers everywhere — they are satisfied when the crop is in, the crop is high quality,  and their bodies are still intact, because farming is some of the hardest work there is.

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