Preserving Family Legacy: Maréchal Vineyards’ Story
Jenifer Marshall is making a sustainable impact in the Central Valley at Maréchal Vineyards.
She and her husband, Josh, grow wine grapes outside of Sanger at Maréchal Vineyards.
She spent the early days of Maréchal Vineyards supporting her husband’s venture, and now she manages the operation alongside him.
About 30 years ago, they helped Josh’s father pick, pack, and ship grapes to the east coast for home winemaking. Josh’s interest in winemaking grew as he contributed to packing and shipping. As Josh started to take over the farming operation, she encouraged him to commit to his hobby and submit his wines to competitions.
They eventually took trips to Paso Robles to rent space and equipment that would help them make wine on a larger scale.
After successful attempts at selling their wine, winemaking quickly turned into a business in 2012. Now Jenifer manages the tasting room for customers year-round.
The Marshalls are also farm managers for other properties, overseeing over 1,000 acres including their own property, which was their family’s original farm in 1917. Over the last century, each generation that has run the farm has made it their own. From stone fruit to chickens, the property has produced a variety of food.
Following generations of farmers on both sides of the family, Jenifer acknowledges that farming is all about learning and adapting when it comes to changing weather conditions and following sustainability practices.
Jenifer says that regarding the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), growers should be willing to try new ways of irrigating and farming. They use a combination of drip and flood irrigation, and use meters to track the water use on the acreage they oversee.
“There’s always more to learn,” she said.
The 2022-2023 water year has brought relief from pumping because of excess rain, allowing Jenifer to use the pond at Maréchal Vineyards to take available surface water to irrigate with.
“I never had to pump out of the ground,” Marshall said.
In the dry year prior, her goal was to keep their neighboring orange groves alive.
“There’s no quit in this field. You just go; you just adapt,” Marshall said.
Jenifer is also a Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) board member – the first woman to ever serve on the board. She says there’s a lot of opportunities for women in agriculture and she hopes to make a difference with her role. She brings a fresh perspective to board meetings, while also learning from fellow board members who have been serving for decades. KRCD, a public agency, is involved in a variety of water resources issues and programs impacting agricultural producers across portions of Fresno, Kings, and Tulare counties.
Growing up, Jenifer was surrounded by women in agriculture, whether it was answering phones or filling out paperwork. She saw her mom work hard, and now she teaches her own kids to do the same. Agriculture has evolved over time for women, and there are a lot more roles for women in ag to play.
“It’s all about bringing what you have to the table,” she said.