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.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ Harvest STOMP broke its own fund-raising record this past Saturday night, August 27, as the sold-out crowd of 575 people raised almost $1.3 million dollars net. This record highlights the popularity of the event, and the support it has generated.
In its first 9 years, STOMP has enjoyed staggering success, with a 1,400% growth rate in funds raised since 2008. The event was held at the beautiful Regusci Ranch in the heart of the Stags Leap District. Grapegrowers, consumers, and locals looked out across vineyards and the western hills as they gathered to celebrate the 2016 harvest.