NAPA, CA (February 9, 2017) – Despite heavy rain and muddy vineyard rows, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ (NVG) and Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation held its 16th Annual Napa County Pruning Contest at Beringer’s Gamble Ranch Vineyard Wednesday. 86 men and 18 women competed.
“These are the finest pruners Napa Valley has to offer. Participants come from many different companies and with thousands of hours of experience. They not only lead our crews, but they teach other employees the skills and techniques it takes to preserve the health and quality of our vineyards,” said Rolando Sanchez of Walsh Vineyards Management and a member of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation’s Education Committee.
Each of the 104 contestant 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. The winners took home more than $4,500 in cash winnings, armfuls of tools, clothing, gift cards, and other valuable gifts. The crowd favorite was the handmade, silver belt buckle given to the 1st place winners. Employers typically match the cash prize winnings, so for the 8 top competitors, the day was highly rewarding. All contestants took home sweatshirts and pruning holsters, and enjoyed a catered lunch and the comradery of their fellow vineyard workers.
Alfredo Pedroza, Chairman of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, was on-hand to distribute the awards. “I am very proud to celebrate our farmworkers and acknowledge their contributions to our Valley. Today’s pruning competition once again showed the skill and talent of our farmworkers,” said Pedroza.
All contestants were Napa County residents and full time employees, who volunteered to compete and were paid her or his regular salary 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: Gabriela Solano Castillo, Rudd Oakville Estate – $850 in cash and gifts cards plus a custom trophy belt buckle; gift basket and apparel
2nd Place: Dolores Torres, Promontory Vineyard – $600 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
3rd Place: Maria Herlinda Romero, Walsh Vineyards Management – $350 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
4th Place: Maria Ecebio, Bayview Vineyards – $200 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
Men’s Division Winners:
1st Place: Oscar Chavez, Peju Province Winery – $850 in cash and gifts cards plus a custom trophy belt buckle; gift basket and apparel
2nd Place: Marvin Hernandez, The Napa Valley Reserve – $600 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
3rd Place: Silvano Ponce, Nunez Vineyard Management – $350 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
4th Place: Rodolfo Gonzalez, Opus One – $200 in cash and gifts cards plus gift basket and apparel
Support for this event was provided by premier sponsors Central Valley Builders and Nemerever Vineyards.