Posted on Aug 31, 2020
by Jess Lander
Sadie Drury, general manager of North Slope Management in Walla Walla, Wash., was doing everything right. She implemented and enforced all the recommended safety protocols, and yet, two of her employees — who lived together in shared, family housing — contracted Covid-19. With social distancing and masks in place, none of her other employees tested positive, but one of the two who were infected devastatingly passed away. “That hit us really hard,” she says. “It was a longtime supervisor in our company who had worked with us since the late ‘90s.”
The Latinx community, which makes up the majority of the U.S. wine industry’s farmworkers, has proven to be especially vulnerable to Covid-19. In California, for example, Latinx persons account for 59 percent of positive Covid-19 cases and 47 percent of deaths, despite making up just 39 percent of the state’s population, according to the California Department of Public Health. This vulnerability is mostly attributed to the farmworker community’s low-income, socioeconomic realities; many workers live in multi-family housing and often carpool together in vans and other large transport vehicles. In Napa County alone, an outbreak of roughly 70 cases of Covid was reported in the county’s farmworker centers in July.
by NVG Staff
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) has launched a child care program for Napa County farmworker families through harvest. The program has been generously seeded by the Foley family and Harmon & Joanne Brown. It will be administered by the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley.
Courtney Foley, winemaker for Foley Estates, and her sister Lindsay instantly saw the need and stepped forward to fill it. “When we learned of the challenges farmworker families are facing with COVID-19, one of the areas that stood out was the lack of child care during harvest. This is often a time when families are stretched, and we knew we wanted to help create opportunities for these children to succeed at distance learning and be cared for while their parents were at work.”
by NVG Staff
The 2020 Napa Valley harvest is underway throughout the region according to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), with sparkling wine varieties leading the way to the presses. 2020’s growing season bodes well for a landmark harvest.
“Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, the grapes continue to ripen, and grape growers feel the continuity of harvest. It has been a superb growing season with moderate weather; Napa Valley is fortunate, we continue to have beautiful fruit, ready for harvest, time and time again,” said Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, Business Manager for Yount Mill Vineyards and Napa Wine Company, whose first pick is this coming Saturday, August 8, from her Block House Vineyard in Yountville, “COVID-19 protection is top-of-mind though, and we are committed to enforcing best practice protocols to ensure all employees in the vineyard and winery are safe while harvest is underway.”
by NVG Staff
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) and Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) announce a partnership with St. Helena Hospital Foundation (SHHF) to increase access to COVID-19 screening for farmworkers. NVG and FWF have jointly funded supplying and staffing a mobile health unit, capable of traveling to vineyard sites and testing up to 100 vineyard workers per day. These funds have secured an initial order of 3,000 pilots tests to be made available throughout harvest to vineyard workers.
Posted on Jul 16, 2020
by Danielle Echeverria
As Eppie Ordaz, a grape grower in Sonoma County, readies his vineyard for the late August harvest season, he is stocking masks and gloves for employees, planning empty rows to allow workers to keep their distance, and putting extra disinfectants and sanitation stations into place. The changes are new, but having to change isn’t, he says.
“Every harvest there are some crazy changes, adjustments and events, so I think we are pretty well prepared for anything,” he said. “There’s always something Mother Nature is going to throw at us, and COVID is another Mother Nature curveball, I guess.”