The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation celebrated its 20th annual Napa County Pruning Contest at Beringer’s Gamble Ranch Vineyard on Saturday, February 5. It was a beautiful day, as 90 contestants displayed speed and technique in what is considered the most prestigious competition for Napa Valley’s vineyard professionals.
“It’s incredible celebrating 20 years of the Napa County Pruning Contest! Participants are passionate about improving their skills each year and competing against their peers,” said Rolando Sanchez, General Manager for Walsh Vineyards Management and member of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation’s Education Committee. “The Pruning Contest is an opportunity to demonstrate their dedication to high-quality, Napa Valley grape growing.”
The FWF celebrated its 20th anniversary with commemorative giveaways, hoodies provided by FELCO, a past champions round, and festive music and décor.
“The Napa County Pruning Contest highlights the talent, skill and precision of our local vineyard workforce” said Arnulfo Solorio, Partner at Silverado Farming Company and Vice President of the FWF, “and I’m ready for another 20 years.”
To ensure a safe competition environment, the FWF implemented COVID safety protocols and followed all COVID-19 county guidelines. OLE Health joined the event as a premier sponsor and health care partner, volunteering their time to administer rapid tests onsite for all competitors. Everyone attending was required to provide a proof of vaccination, a negative test result taken onsite, and a signed COVID safety waiver; masks were worn at all times.
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: four in the women’s division and four in the men’s division. The winners took home cash, pruning tools, clothing, gift cards and other prizes; a handmade silver belt buckle was given to the first place winners. Employers typically match the cash prize winnings, so the day was highly rewarding for the top 8 finalists. All contestants enjoyed a catered lunch between competition rounds.
Contestants were Napa County residents and full-time employees. All who participated volunteered their time to compete and most were paid by their employers for the day. Many had successfully competed in internal competitions within their own companies prior to arriving to the countywide contest.
Women’s Division Winners
1st Place: Erika López, Renteria Vineyard Management- $950 in cash and gifts cards plus a custom trophy belt buckle; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
2nd Place: Verónica Medina Reyes Bayview Vineyards – $675 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
3rd Place: Ana Mejia, Trefethen Family Vineyards – $400 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
4th Place: Rosa Martínez, Bettinelli Vineyards – $250 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
Men’s Division Winners
1st Place: Casimiro Zaragoza, Joseph Phelps Vineyards – $950 in cash and gifts cards plus a custom trophy belt buckle; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
2nd Place: Agustín Arias, Atlas Vineyard Management – $675 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
3rd Place: Hector Rodríguez, St. Supery Estate Vineyards – $400 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
4th Place: Lorenzo Hernández Aquino, Walsh Vineyards Management – $250 in cash and gifts cards; FELCO heritage belt and vineyard loppers; Central Valley gift tub
Support for this event was provided by sponsors Central Valley Ag Supplies, FELCO/PYGAR USA, Martinez Orchards, Nemerever Vineyards, Pulido-Walker, OLE Health, Silicon Valley Bank, A&J Vineyard Supply, Ag Health Benefits Alliance, Brotemarkle Davis & Co., Copper Cane Wine & Provisions, Duarte Trees & Vines, John Derr Farming, Green Valley Tractor, Michael Wolf Vineyard Services, Renteria Vineyard Management, Novavine, Silver Oak, Sunridge Nurseries, Taddei Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery, and Vineyard Industry Products.
About the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation
Founded by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers in 2011, the mission of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is to support and promote Napa Valley’s vineyard workers through education and professional development. The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is the only one of its kind in the United States, providing educational opportunities, advanced training programs, leadership and management classes, English literacy programs, and much more. To date, the Farmworker Foundation has offered education and professional development opportunities to more than 21,000 vineyard workers and their families.