By Henry Lutz
A new initiative may soon have more Napa high schoolers eyeing futures in the local wine industry.
Fields of Opportunity, an eight-week paid summer mentorship program for high school students within the Napa Valley Unified School District, opened this week for applications.
Stemming from a partnership between the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and the school district, the program is designed to cycle 16 students between four host companies, offering participants an interactive cross-section of the many occupations that drive the county’s staple industry.
By Henry Lutz
YOUNTVILLE — It’s pruning season in the vineyards, and at this year’s Napa County Pruning Contest the only thing sharper than the shears were the whetted skills of the contestants handling them. Braving a steady downpour Wednesday afternoon, a record turnout of more than 100 contestants competed among the vineyard rows at Beringer Vineyard’s Gamble Ranch property for the 16th iteration of the annual contest.
By Henry Lutz
People from all corners of the wine grape industry swarmed the Napa Valley Expo on Tuesday for myriad product booths, displays of tractors and assorted farm equipment and vast tents for seminars and vineyard and wine trials.
This year’s event included expanded seminars in Spanish. “We have headphones in the seminars with translators,” explained Jennifer Putnam, executive director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
“So if you’re a Spanish speaker you can go in the seminars, put the headphones on and there’s a real-time translation happening in your headphones so you can follow the slides and all the information.”
The 2016 Napa Valley Winegrape Harvest is officially “in” this week, just as the season’s first storm heads towards Napa Valley. The current forecast calls for up to 3” of rain throughout Napa County, beginning on Thursday, October 13. While many growers hustled to bring any remaining fruit in, three growers sat with Sara Schneider, Wine Editor for Sunset Magazine, at the Napa Valley Harvest Press Conference Wednesday, to discuss the growing season and some of the major issues facing vineyard owners today.
By David Stoneberg
A tight supply of vineyard workers, California’s new law mandating overtime pay for agricultural employees and climate change highlighted Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ harvest press conference Wednesday morning.
“Labor is a hot topic right now. There is a shortage of people wanting to get into vineyard work,” said Brittany Pederson, viticulturist for the Silverado Farming Company.
Given the labor situation, preserving the current workforce is “what we need to focus on — keeping them safe, healthy and happy and keeping them here,” she said.
Michael Silacci, winemaker for Opus One, was more direct. “We feel vineyard workers are perhaps the most valuable resource we have, after the grapevine,” he said.