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Fields of Opportunity Developing the Next Generation for the Napa Valley Wine Industry

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Fields of Opportunity students, Eddie Benitez Pizano (left), learned about grape growing with Walsh Vineyards Management and, Ximena Alvarez Parra (right), gained hospitality skills at Hudson Ranch.

Napa, CA (November 17, 2021) – The Patrick Foley Fields of Opportunity Summer Mentor Program was created by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) and the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) to prepare Napa County high school students for careers in our world class wine industry.  During the 8-week program, students gain first-class industry experience and develop professional skills in hospitality, wine production, grape growing, human resources, and accounting, with some of the world’s most forward-thinking wine producers.

Through the FWF and NVG’s ongoing partnership with the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD), the program is promoted to high school students from a range of backgrounds. To apply, students must be 16 years or older, able to commit to an 8-week program, have interest in learning about a career in the wine industry, and a positive attitude and willingness to learn new skills. All applicants are put through an interview process, with priority extending to students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. When selected, students are placed with an employer mentor, and receive a soft skill workshop schedule covering topics, such as: financial literacy; mental health; resume writing; professional networking on social media; history of the Napa Valley; leadership stories and lessons; and goal setting.

Montserrat Granados, a student from the 2021 graduating class, said about her Fields of Opportunity experience, “I liked working outside, especially in the mornings. We did things like collect sugar samples or scouted for pests. Before this summer, I wasn’t thinking about a job in this field, but now after working at Hall Wines under viticulturist Sarah Lansing, I am considering working in the wine industry.”  For Montserrat, the program left a lasting impression.

The large number of qualified applicants is a positive challenge; creating opportunity for more employer mentors to get involved. In 2021, for example, FWF and NVG initially planned to place 16 students with employer mentors. When 80 student applications were received, additional outreach was made to employers; in the end, 23 students were placed, all of whom completed the program.

In 2022, the organizations hope to double student placements with support from new employer mentors who want to impact a young life by introducing them to the wine industry and sharing their passion for the field.

Past employers included many of Napa’s most recognized wineries and vineyard management companies such as: Foley Family Wines; Hall Wines; Hudson Ranch, Jericho Canyon Vineyards; Larkmead Vineyards; Napa Wine Company; Opus One; Pine Ridge Vineyards; Renteria Vineyard Management; Tres Sabores; V. Sattui Winery; Viader Vineyards & Winery; Walsh Vineyards Management; and Yount Mill Vineyards.

“Over the past 4 years, Napa Wine Company and Yount Mill Vineyards have thoroughly enjoyed supporting the Fields of Opportunity program through mentorship.  We feel it is crucial to support the next generation because they represent the future of our local community,” said Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, business manager for Napa Wine Company and Yount Mill Vineyards.  “It goes both ways, though, through mentorship we learn how to continually hone our management skills, which reinvigorates our love for the business itself.”

“We highly recommend every business in Napa Valley participate as mentors for the Fields of Opportunity program.”

The Patrick Foley Fields of Opportunity Summer Mentor Program has begun outreach to employer mentors for the 2022 program, which will be held June 20 – August 5.  If you are interested in joining as an employer mentor, learn more online or email Jill Durfee, Farmworker Foundation Program Manager, at [email protected].

About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 45 years.  Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 685 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses.  For more information, visit our website Napa Valley Grapegrowers and follow the Napa Valley Grapegrowers on Facebook and Instagram.

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. For more information, visit our website Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and follow the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.

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