Here at Life’s Grape, we are a happy bunch who has a genuine passion for what we do and has so much fun doing it. As such, we are continuing our “Meet the Team” series where we highlight members of our team that make Life’s Grape possible. If you missed our first post with Director of Life’s Grape Troy Gillespie, be sure to check it out here.
This time, we are happy to introduce you to Richard Loquaci, a fourth-generation farmer that is head of Life’s Grape’s farm operation. With this title, Richard gets to oversee the process on the farm from seed to finished product. However since it is a family business he says, “titles are hard to define since everyone is equally interested in seeing growth and success.” Born into the raisin industry, Richard’s grandfather was one of the founding fathers of Raisin Bargaining Association, so it’s safe to say that he has a long history of family knowledge and experience in the particular space. After growing up working on the family ranch, he went to college at Fresno State where he later graduated with a degree in Agricultural Business. After college, Richard joined the family business because as he says, “farming raisins are in our genetics, in our blood, it’s what we do”.
Richard’s family met the Gillespie’s in 1985 when they were asked to assist in farming their ranches. The two families instantly bonded over their love of raisin farming and also became the front-runners in being one of the first to plant and grow the Selma Pete variety of grape. Though the families were originally growing another variety of grape, they made the switch to Selma Pete to simply produce more volume at a higher quality in efforts to make it easier to sell directly to consumers. This was the beginning of Life’s Grape.
Richard, who is extremely hands-on, wears what he calls “a VERY large hat.” He does everything on the farm from deciding when to water, how much to water, fertilizing the crop and keeping the grapes and vines clean and free of bugs in efforts to ensure high-quality grapes that later dry into high-quality vine-dried grapes.
When asked what it was like to be a part of a family business, his first thought was “a lot of them don’t last as long as we have. There are great times and there are difficult times.” At Life’s Grape, there is a huge emphasis on everyone having the same passion and goals. Everyone cares for the farm and business equally which allows them to see eye to eye on producing the best vine dried grapes they possibly can. Both families are always there for each other to uplift one another and at the end of the day, the relationship they have is something they hold close and cherish. Courtney Gillespie shared that when she first showed Richard the very first packaging sample for Life’s Grape, his face lit up with joy and excitement. He told her that he finally had something he grew himself that he could share with people and could 100% back the product since the vine-dried grapes in the package were grown from their dirt, their hands, and their ranch. This just shows how much love and passion Richard has for Life’s Grape. He is extremely proud of both of their families’ hard work and dedication.
Richard finds the entire process from planting the vine to packaging as most interesting. Since his family has been farming raisins for generations, he understands the process and saw a challenge of not having enough options when it comes to grape-picking machines. However, throughout the years, they’ve all learned to come up with adding on different parts, innovating, and refining their current machines to operate in a way that provides better quality grapes.
Aside from overseeing farm management for Life’s Grape, Richard loves to golf, hunt, and go to baseball games (he’s a BIG Giants fan). Although he works with his family, he also likes to take a break from farming every so often to take them on vacations for much needed QT time.
Let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to learn about the Life’s Grape team. To learn more about our products, and us make sure to follow us on social and give us a shout!