Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation’s 21st annual Napa County Pruning Contest first place finishers, Alejandra Mendoza of Trefethen Family Vineyards (left) and Rene Alejo of FARM Napa Valley (right). Photo by Suzanne Becker Bronk
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) celebrated its 21st Annual Napa County Pruning Contest at Beringer’s Gamble Ranch Vineyard on Saturday, February 4. It was a perfect day as 106 contestants displayed speed and technique in what is considered the most prestigious competition for Napa Valley’s vineyard professionals.
“The Napa County Pruning Contest continues to get better every year. Participants are passionate about improving their skills and competing against their peers,” said Rolando Sanchez, General Manager for Walsh Vineyards Management, and member of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation Education Committee, “The Pruning Contest is an opportunity to demonstrate their dedication to high-quality, Napa Valley grape growing.”
The FWF’s Napa County Pruning Contest is a community event with activities and giveaways for competitors and their families. At this year’s event, FWF handed out warm beanies and long-sleeved shirts, Bombas contributed socks of all sizes, and Copperfield’s Books donated children’s books.
During the main event, each of the contestants pruned five vines in the day’s preliminary competition. Those with the highest scores went on to the final round, which produced the winners: 4 in the women’s division and 4 in the men’s division. The winners took home a generous bucket of gifts, which included cash, pruning tools, clothing, Napa Valley wine, gift cards and other prizes; a handmade silver belt buckle from Max Lang Belt and Buckles and first-ever champions jacket from FELCO was given to the 1st place winners. Employers typically match the cash prize winnings, so the day was highly rewarding for the top 8 finalists. All contestants enjoyed lunch catered by Tacos El Muchacho Alegre between competition rounds.
Past Napa County Pruning Contest champions judged the competition this year, which was an opportunity to inspire competitors. “As a past winner, now judging, I’m proud and happy to be helping and hope to encourage competitors to win,” said Celia Perez of V. Sattui Winery and the first women’s division champion in 2014, “People think that the Pruning Contest is only for men, but I am here to prove it’s for everyone, and that anyone can win.”
Competitors are Napa County farmworkers and full-time employees. All farmworkers who work in Napa County are eligible to compete.
1st Place: $1,675 in cash and gifts cards plus a custom trophy belt buckle; FELCO champions jacket and vineyard loppers; Central Valley tools and supplies; Napa Valley wine
2nd Place: $1,075 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO vineyard loppers; Central Valley tools and supplies; Napa Valley wine
3rd Place: $800 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO vineyard loppers; Central Valley tools and supplies; Napa Valley wine
4th Place: $550 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO Swiss Knife; Central Valley tools and supplies; Napa Valley wine
Women’s Division Winners:
1st Place: Alejandra Mendoza, Trefethen Family Vineyards
2nd Place: Reyna Hernandez, Walsh Vineyard Management
3rd Place: Ana Mejia, Trefethen Family Vineyards
4th Place: Irene Escoto, Trefethen Family Vineyards
Men’s Division Winners:
1st Place: Rene Alejo, FARM Napa Valley
2nd Place: Jesús Alejandro Contreras, Pearls Farm Labor
3rd Place: Lorenzo Hernandez, Walsh Vineyard Management
4th Place: Sergio Melgoza, Rocca Family Wines
Support for this event was provided by sponsors Nemerever Vineyards, Pulido~Walker, Silicon Valley Bank, Martinez Orchards, Central Valley Ag Supplies, FELCO, Duarte Trees & Vines, Sunbelt Rentals, Ag Health Benefits Alliance, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, Jaguar Farm Labor Contracting, Crocker & Starr, Brotemarkle Davis & Co, H&E Equipment Services, Malloy Imrie & Vasconi Insurance Services, Novavine, Pearls Farm Labor, Renteria Vineyard Management, Silver Oak, John Derr Farming, Grow West, Sunridge Nurseries, Taddei Vineyards, Gonzalez Vineyard Management, V. Sattui Winery, A&J Vineyard Supply, Larkmead Vineyards, Green Valley Tractor, and our partner in health, OLE Health.
Thank you to the Napa Valley community members who served on the Napa County Pruning Contest Committee: Macy Stubstad, Co-Chair, Lawrence Wine Estates; Kendall Smith, Co-Chair, Grace Family Vineyards; Garrett Buckland, Premiere Viticultural Services; Brianna Beighle, Bryant Wines; Pam Bond, Allied Grape Growers; Chad Clark, Allied Grape Growers; Gustavo Avina, Pine Ridge; Blake Wood, Beckstoffer Vineyards; and Hayden Schmidter, Moulds Family Vineyard.