One Southern Arizona Farmer Creates the Best Pairing of Wine and Pistachios
Jim and Ruth Graham, the owners of Cochise Groves Farming, Inc., and Golden Rule Vineyards, family farm operations in Cochise County, produces pistachios and wine grapes and daily reflect a passion for agriculture. This passion is highlighted in everything they do including their volunteer leadership work for Arizona Farm Bureau over the years.
Their pistachio enterprise, Cochise Groves, includes 150 acres (about 21,000 trees). Their vineyard consists of 26 acres of red wine grapes (nine different varietals totaling 21,000 vines). They market their pistachios through the Arizona Nut Company in Bowie, Arizona and through their own modest marketing efforts.
About three-fourths of their wine grapes are sold to several leading wineries located in the Verde Valley, Elgin-Sonoita, and Willcox areas. They have about one-fourth of their grapes made into their own wine marketed around the state under the Golden Rule Vineyards label. The high desert climate of Cochise County makes their farm (4,350 feet elevation) a particularly good place to produce pistachios and wine grapes.
“We assumed the management of the pistachios from Ruth's parents in 1998 and have doubled the size of the acreage,” explains Jim Graham. “The vineyard enterprise was initiated in 2007 and we are one of the leading producers of wine grapes in Arizona.”
In farming 49 years, Jim is struck by the scale of farming operations and the development of today’s amazing technology. “At the time I began farming in 1973 in Iowa a farm of a few hundred acres was normal,” said Graham. “Most operations were broadly diversified with crops and livestock. Today farms across the country need to be multiple times larger and specifically focused to gain the efficiencies of scale. Driving this dramatic expansion has been improvements in technology. Seed genetics, crop protection products, and machinery innovations have benefitted production immensely and have allowed fewer farmers to produce more food and fiber.”
Jim is always fascinating to talk to. So, I asked him to come on Rosie on the House on KTAR. Turns out he’s a pretty big fan and was excited to be part of the monthly “Farm Fresh” Segment.