An Expert Display of Technique and Speed at the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation's Pruning Contest
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.
Napa, CA (May 6, 2022) – The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, in partnership with Napa Valley Adult Education and their Workplace Training Institute, proudly announce the graduation of 27 students from the 2022 English Literacy Program. Now celebrating its 9th graduating class, the success of the 13-week English Literacy Program is in part due to the curriculum, which assists farmworkers with English and communication skills for the workplace. The program offers a beginner and intermediate track, helping students to develop and improve everything from listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills to grammar and pronunciation – all using workplace vocabulary; since the launch of the program, 778 students have participated.
The Napa County Pruning Contest is almost of drinking age, having just celebrated its 20th year on Saturday at Beringer Vineyards’ Gamble Ranch.
Put on each year by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the pruning contest is a way for the organizations to recognize the valley’s talented vineyard crews.
This year’s winners came from Renteria Vineyard Management and Joseph Phelps Vineyards, with Erika López taking the women’s title and Casimiro Zaragoza for the men, respectively.
Those who came in second, third, and fourth also were awarded, with Atlas Vineyard Management’s Agustín Arias, St. Supery’s Hector Rodríguez, and Walsh Vineyards Management’s Lorenzo Hernández Aquino winning in the men’s category. Verónica Medina Reyes from Bayview — who won first place in the 2019 competition, Ana Mejia from Trefethen, and Rosa Martínez from Bettinelli Vineyards were honored in the women’s contest.
Winter Coat Drive
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Fields of Opportunity Developing the Next Generation for the Napa Valley Wine Industry
The Patrick Foley Fields of Opportunity Summer Mentor Program was created by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) and the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) to prepare Napa County high school students for careers in our world class wine industry. During the 8-week program, students gain first-class industry experience and develop professional skills in hospitality, wine production, grape growing, human resources, and accounting, with some of the world’s most forward-thinking wine producers.
Through the FWF and NVG’s ongoing partnership with the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD), the program is promoted to high school students from a range of backgrounds. To apply, students must be 16 years or older, able to commit to an 8-week program, have interest in learning about a career in the wine industry, and a positive attitude and willingness to learn new skills. All applicants are put through an interview process, with priority extending to students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. When selected, students are placed with an employer mentor, and receive a soft skill workshop schedule covering topics, such as: financial literacy; mental health; resume writing; professional networking on social media; history of the Napa Valley; leadership stories and lessons; and goal setting.
Montserrat Granados, a student from the 2021 graduating class, said about her Fields of Opportunity experience, "I liked working outside, especially in the mornings. We did things like collect sugar samples or scouted for pests. Before this summer, I wasn't thinking about a job in this field, but now after working at Hall Wines under viticulturist Sarah Lansing, I am considering working in the wine industry.” For Montserrat, the program left a lasting impression.
The large number of qualified applicants is a positive challenge; creating opportunity for more employer mentors to get involved. In 2021, for example, FWF and NVG initially planned to place 16 students with employer mentors. When 80 student applications were received, additional outreach was made to employers; in the end, 23 students were placed, all of whom completed the program.
In 2022, the organizations hope to double student placements with support from new employer mentors who want to impact a young life by introducing them to the wine industry and sharing their passion for the field.
Past employers included many of Napa’s most recognized wineries and vineyard management companies such as: Foley Family Wines; Hall Wines; Hudson Ranch, Jericho Canyon Vineyards; Larkmead Vineyards; Napa Wine Company; Opus One; Pine Ridge Vineyards; Renteria Vineyard Management; Tres Sabores; V. Sattui Winery; Viader Vineyards & Winery; Walsh Vineyards Management; and Yount Mill Vineyards.
“Over the past 4 years, Napa Wine Company and Yount Mill Vineyards have thoroughly enjoyed supporting the Fields of Opportunity program through mentorship. We feel it is crucial to support the next generation because they represent the future of our local community,” said Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, business manager for Napa Wine Company and Yount Mill Vineyards. “It goes both ways, though, through mentorship we learn how to continually hone our management skills, which reinvigorates our love for the business itself.”
The Patrick Foley Fields of Opportunity Summer Mentor Program has begun outreach to employer mentors for the 2022 program, which will be held June 20 - August 12. If you are interested in joining as an employer mentor, learn more here or email Jill Durfee, Farmworker Foundation Program Manager, at email@example.com.
For press inquiries related to the Patrick Foley Fields of Opportunity Summer Mentor Program, please email Caroline Keller, NVG Marketing Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers members and Napa County farmworkers are eligible to receive free technical support for grant applications through our partner Morrison. These grant programs provide financial assistance for a variety of projects that address environmental concerns, water & air quality, improved soil health, irrigation efficiency, value-added marketing programs, reduced soil erosion, renewable energy, and more.
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation Donates Over $60,000 to the St. Helena Hospital Foundation COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic to Support Ag Workers
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) is excited to announce a donation of over $60,000 in support of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation’s (SHHF) COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Donations were generously contributed through a matching grant program, with the FWF and an anonymous donor matching donations dollar-for-dollar.
The fundraising campaign’s success was made possible through the outpouring of monetary support from donors within the FWF and Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) communities. This donation follows an earlier $10,000 contribution when the vaccine clinic first opened, making the FWF’s total gift over $70,000 to-date.
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and St. Helena Hospital Foundation have partnered throughout the pandemic to prioritize the health and safety of essential farmworkers. In July, the FWF and NVG jointly funded the pilot program of SHHF’s mobile testing unit, which since then has successfully provided nearly 15,000 in-the-field COVID-19 tests for vineyard and winery workers.
FWF’s most recent donation comes as the state focus has shifted toward the equitable distribution of vaccines among eligible sectors of the community. Napa County's farmworkers have provided essential work throughout the pandemic, and the SHHF has proven its commitment to the agricultural community and the community-at-large during these challenging times, putting Napa’s farmworkers and agricultural community first, from their very first day of vaccines two months ago. To date, their clinic has administered nearly 20,000 vaccines, with over 10,000 vaccines that have gone to farmworkers.
“Since the pandemic began, the Farmworker Foundation has been a true community partner, first with their support of the mobile testing unit and now with our COVID-19 vaccination clinic,” said Glen Newhart, President and CEO, St. Helena Hospital Foundation, “We value this ongoing partnership and share the goal of providing essential ag workers direct, safe, and secure access to vaccines and important COVID-19 resources.”
While vaccine supply has posed challenges across the state, the SHHF team, with the support of the FWF and Napa County, designed a streamlined companywide sign-up program to ensure Napa’s farm-working community has continued access to vaccine appointments. Since this program began in February, FWF, along with NVG, have provided 500 hours of bilingual staff support, helping with scheduling, Spanish-translation, various site needs, and check-in at both the SHHF clinic and the Napa County vaccine clinic locations.
The FWF is proud to support equitable access to vaccines through the SHHF's efforts. This critical funding will be used to assist SHHF in continuing vaccination efforts via the streamlined, companywide vaccination sign-up process.
To speak with a Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation representative, please email Caroline Keller, Marketing Manager, email@example.com
Holiday Gifts Made Possible by Farmworker Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) participated in a brand-new end of year giving program in December, distributing 250 Copperfield's Books gift cards to farmworkers and their families. The program was made possible by the Wells Fargo Foundation, long- time supporters of the FWF.
“The Wells Fargo Foundation is committed to supporting our community, especially during these difficult times. This grant is a small token of our appreciation for the essential role farmworkers have played in keeping our economy going,” said Denise Miles, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Social Impact & Sustainability. “We are proud to collaborate with the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation to do something special for the children of farmworkers.”
The gift cards were used as tokens of gratitude following a year of unexpected events, affecting many within Napa County’s agricultural community; parents and children used their cards to purchase books, games, and stuffed animals during the holidays.
“The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation’s December giving program was an opportunity to thank the hardworking farmworker community,” said Jill Durfee, Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation program manager. “Sharing gift cards to a local bookstore aligned with our mission to support and promote farmworkers through education.”
For more information on programs offered through the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, please refer to www.farmworkerfoundation.org
To speak with a Farmworker Foundation representative regarding the laptop lending program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org