Red apples? Sure – Rob Valicoff Jr. knows all about farming red apples and many other varieties, as he’s been doing it most of his life, but red wine? That’s something new. Rob’s agricultural journey in Yakima Valley continues to evolve with the 2017 debut of Valicoff Estates Wines that includes 4 varieties of reds. The passion for this project was sparked when Rob was just a teenager but took decades to materialize into a reality. Robert and Stephanie Valicoff are proud to continue the family tradition in the Yakima Valley.
The Valicoff agricultural roots run deep, and the journey began with Rob’s grandfather Stoyan Valicoff, who came to America in 1905. When Rob was a child in the 1960’s, he helped out at his grandfather’s U-Pick Peach farm helping customers pick fruit. When he talks about these memories, he gets a twinkle in his eye as he recalls his efforts often earning him unexpected tips that could equal as much as $40/day. This lesson of hard work leading to a path of success has always stayed with him.
In addition to farming, Rob’s grandfather had a wine making hobby, and Rob helped with crushing grapes in the Fall, bottling in the Spring and even tasting wine with his grandfather as young as age 13 (although his grandma didn’t approve)! While agriculture was familiar to him, Rob decided instead to pursue college in a career that was not related to farming at all. After a couple of years, however, he realized his true calling was agriculture after all so he headed home to Yakima Valley in 1976. Rob planted his first apples in partnership with his brother while working on nearby ranches for extra income.
During the next 30 years, he and his brothers grew Valicoff Family Farms to over 1700 acres of fruit orchards that surround their family homes as well as building a state of the art packing plant. It’s been a lifelong labor of love, and you can find Rob Jr. in the orchards just about every day keeping things running smoothly, talking to the workers and checking on progress. In fact, you’ll still find him on his Cat D8 Dozer leveling land and working on other projects. Rob’s love for educating people about agriculture even takes him to Western Washington to sell fresh fruit off his trees directly to consumers.