From a Nuffield Scholars news release
The Nuffield International Farming Scholars program, which develop leaders to help shape the future of agriculture, has named vintner Thomas Merwin of Clarksburg (Yolo County) as a scholar for 2022. He is the program’s first-ever scholar from California.
Merwin is the General Manager and Vice President of Merwin Vineyards, a multi-generational family farm, and co-founder and partner in Silt Wine Company, a winery and tasting room in Clarksburg. He also serves as president of the Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association.
Nuffield Scholars step out of their own lives and activities during their year of scholarship to find best practices, ideas, insight, and resources to carry back home. Whether they are investigating production agriculture, financial and succession planning topics, market trends, or communications and outreach efforts, Nuffield Scholars dig into a topic of interest to them and of value to the industry.
Merwin plans to study how family farms in California can survive and thrive and will travel to Spain and France to study corporate, family, and cooperative farms and wineries; Latin America to research small cooperatives in conjunction with large corporate farms; and the UK to study agritourism and agricultural finance.
“Given how challenging the situation is, I want to focus on how family farms can pivot or re-focus for long-term survival, looking at strategies and examples such as collaborating with institutional investors, vertical integration, specialization, and joint venture partnerships,” said Merwin. “I believe this topic is important because family farms play a critical role in our local, national, and global agricultural community. I hope my research and experiences will inspire others to re-evaluate their business models and improve their odds for succession and survival”.