Some Growers, Consumers in Rural Communities Worry About Effects of $15 Minimum Wage

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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY --

As a fourth-generation wine grape grower, some of the vines in Clements Hills are Brad Goehring's livelihood.

With about 300 employees at peak season, he's already predicting the effects of paying minimum wage workers $15 per hour.

"This is gonna really hurt the demand for our products," said Goehring.

Ultimately Goehring believes the additional $5 an hour might drive prices up and force some wineries to look beyond California for grapes.

"We've known in the past when the price of our grapes gets too high, wineries go and look elsewhere for fruit; they'll be chardonnay for Australia or Malbec from Argentina," Goehring said.

Goehring thinks the higher wages will inevitably have a ripple effect onto consumers.

"The price is gonna go up across the board for everything: for a hamburger, for a bottle of wine, for a ton of grapes to make the wine," said Goehring.

If that happens, Barbara Molfina is afraid she'll have to adjust her lifestyle because she's on a fixed income.

"I have to watch it, and if they had to up their prices, well then I probably wouldn't be going out as much," said Molfina.

Some minimum wage workers at small businesses worry they might lose their jobs.

"I think it would put them out of business," said Wade Camarillo.

Back at the vineyard, Goehring already sees many workers being replaced with technology.

For example, in 24 hours, his grape picking machine can do the work of 100 workers.

While he wants to give workers a livable wage, he says, in reality something has to give.

"This is only gonna force mechanization in a lot of industries, including ours, to the next level," said Goehring.

Minimum wage will go up to $10.50 per hour in January 2017.

It will reach $15 per hour in the year 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees have an extra year.