family background/ Jesus, son of Javier and Irma Ramos, is the first in his immediate family to attend high school and college. He earned an undergraduate degree in plant sciences, viticulture and enology from Washington State University. He is currently working on a master’s degree in agriculture sciences, focusing on plant health management.
grower/ Originally from Royal City, Washington
Crops/ Wine grapes, apples, cherries
business/ Production supervisor at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
How did you get your start?
I started out working in apple and cherry orchards. From there my dad taught me about the love and work ethic for working out in farms.
While working on my degree, I did research on alfalfa, soybeans and vineyards, which led to me working as a viticulture technician.
Why did you become a farmer?
With my dad, I got to do a little bit of everything. I had opportunities to go out mid-winter, when it would actually snow quite a bit.
I remember one year being knee-deep in snow pruning trees, learning about everyday operations, things like how to manage crews and how to prep for the next day. I took opportunities at work to ride with irrigators to learn their practices.
Some of the most interesting aspects were going with dad and seeing the love and passion for what he did. It motivated me to be the best worker who gets the best results by the end of the day.
What were your interests on the farm?
I was interested in what anatomical parts you can remove and what you shouldn’t remove, and what would the end result be.
Now that I’m in my master’s program, I’m getting a chance to learn more about fertility management.
One of the things I’ve learned is if you don’t have the right tools and nutrients for the plants, then you can’t really expect the greatest result at the end of the day.
Having the correct balance of chemistry in the soil will help the plant live longer, all the while it produces the best grapes possible in that growing season.
Was higher education always part of your plan?
I think it’s definitely a family thing. I’m the oldest son, the first to graduate from high school then first to get my undergraduate degree.
Everything was riding on my shoulders to make sure I was making the right steps to help guide my brothers down the right path.
Secondly, I’m an ambitious person who believes in getting educated as much as possible. My parents, who came from a pretty humble background, are a motivation for me.
One of my goals is to be one of the most prepared growers in the future. I think all growers, in the long run, should enrich themselves in plant sciences, soils and water management.
At the end of the day, having that background will make their lives easier and we’ll be able to get the best produce out to the consumer.
Why plant sciences?
If you can get the fundamentals of the anatomy, the physiology, the basic sciences of what goes into growing a plant, the decisions you’re going to make are the most proper position to get the best end result. This helps the viability of your business plan that you will ultimately profit from.
Why did you switch to wine grapes from tree fruit?
One of the most interesting things for me when learning about viticulture — coming from a tree fruit background — I was still pretty new to grapes, learning the anatomy and responses the plant has to agricultural practices that go into the crop.
What I liked the most was learning how many buds should be on a vine, why do we leave a certain amount of buds on, how providing a certain amount of water during different times in the growth phases will give you better results or affect different characteristics in the wine.
It’s so interesting how a vine is so responsive to what practices go into it.
What did you gain from interning over the summers?
The internships really helped. When you’re an intern, they really throw everything at you. Some summers I remember thinking how horrible the work was.
That work convinced me that I needed to go on through school and higher education to land the job that I really wanted.
Looking back now, I’m in a position where I’m glad I had those internships, because it taught me to value being a hard worker.