Citing increased competition from newly legal marijuana farms and stricter immigration enforcement by the federal government, California grape growers are increasingly complaining about the difficulty of finding workers willing to take on the hot, sweaty, backbreaking and often-dangerous job of harvesting grapes.

Some growers, though, have found a secret weapon. Women.

Yes, the so-called “weaker sex” (hah!) is more and more making its presence felt in the formerly virtually all-male world of harvesting those precious cabernet and chardonnay and pinot noir grapes that wind up in your pricy bottle of California wine.

Harvesting teams comprised 50 percent or more of women are now not uncommon, nor are all-female teams, according to a report in the Napa Valley Register. Many of these women, and their male counterparts, are not the migrant workers of days yore, following the harvests from farm to farm and season to season. Whether legal or not, they’re full-time state residents, albeit not residing in the uber-expensive communities where most wineries make their homes.

After initial trepidations about whether women could handle the hard physical labor of hand-picking grapes, most growers and the firms that contract for their workers acknowledge that women can handle the rigors of the job just fine, and while they may not pick quite as quickly as men, they make up for it by being more careful and precise. So much so that some growers actually request all-female crews come harvest time.

Of course, like in any field whose gender composition is undergoing drastic change, there can be problems integrating men and women. Though reports of sexual harassment vary, female farmworkers now have access to organizations dedicated to fighting abuse, and are increasingly likely to report such incidents rather than stay silent for fear of losing their jobs.