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A Rewarding Showcase of Skill and Determination at the Napa County Pruning Contest

The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) celebrated its 22nd Annual Napa County Pruning Contest at Beringer’s Gamble Ranch Vineyard on Saturday, February 3.  It was a perfect day as 113 contestants displayed exceptional skill and determination in what is considered the most prestigious competition for Napa Valley’s vineyard professionals. Scoring for the competition is weighted for technique and quality, allowing contestants to demonstrate their dedication to high-quality, Napa Valley grape-growing.

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: 4 in the women’s division and 4 in the men’s division.  The winners took home a generous collection of gifts, which included cash, pruning tools, Napa Valley wine, gift cards from Silicon Valley Bank and Sunbelt Rentals; and a handmade silver belt buckle from Max Lang Belt and Buckles and a FELCO champions jacket was given to the 1st place winners.  Employers typically match the cash prize winnings, so the day was highly rewarding for the top 8 finalists.

An outstanding display of talent this year was Ana Mejia from Trefethen Family Vineyards. In 2023 she competed in the women’s division and took third place. However, she returned this year determined to advance. “I came [to the 2024 competition] with more confidence and purpose,” said Mejia, “I wanted to demonstrate that women are also able to compete.” Mejia proudly took first place in this year’s competition, taking to the podium with a smile from ear-to-ear.

Adding to this year’s energy was local radio DJ Gabriela Fernandez of MegaMix, who broadcast live from the event grounds. She interviewed Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation leadership, finalists, and long-time sponsors, like Antonio Zamora from A&J Vineyard Supply, who said, “As a business that provides the Napa Valley with high-quality vineyard supplies, we see the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation as an asset to the grape-growing community, and one that aligns with our values. Adding, too, that sponsoring their Napa County Pruning Contest is a great opportunity to connect with those we support – from farmworkers to grape growers. If it wasn’t for the dedicated, expert talent tending to the local vineyards, the Napa Valley wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation Vice President of the Board, Arnulfo Solorio (center), reviewing the competition’s rules and scoring. Photo by Chrome Visual Co.
Guadalupe Soriano, first place finisher in the men’s division, razor-focused on making precise cuts. Photo by Chrome Visual Co.

Competitors are Napa County farmworkers and full-time employees. All farmworkers who work in Napa County are eligible to compete.

Winners received:

1st Place: $1,550 in cash and gifts cards, a custom belt buckle, FELCO champions jacket, Vineyard Industry Products tools and supplies, Central Valley tools and supplies, and wine from Bazán Cellars
2nd Place: $1,075 in cash and gifts cards, Central Valley tools and supplies, and wine from Bazán Cellars
3rd Place: $800 in cash and gifts cards, Central Valley tools and supplies, and wine from Larkmead Vineyards
4th Place: $550 in cash and gifts cards, Central Valley tools and supplies, and wine from Bazán Cellars
All contestants received a black leather pruning shear holster from FELCO.
Women’s Division Winners:
1st Place: Ana Mejia, Trefethen Family Vineyards
2nd Place: Rubi Reyes Hernandez, Gonzalez Vineyard Management
3rd Place: Guadalupe Gutierrez, Renteria Vineyard Management
4th Place: Cristina Arroyo, Renteria Vineyard Management
Men’s Division Winners:
1st Place: Guadalupe Soriano, Atlas Vineyard Management
2nd Place: Benjamin Marron, Bettinelli Vineyards
3rd Place: Julio Alonso, Hardin Vineyard Management
4th Place: Jesús Sánchez, Renteria Vineyard Management

Support for this event was provided by sponsors Nemerever Vineyards, Silicon Valley Bank, Central Valley Ag Supplies, FELCO, Duarte Trees & Vines, Sunbelt Rentals, Ag Health Benefits Alliance, Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, Jaguar Farm Labor Contracting, Brotemarkle Davis & Co, Malloy Imrie & Vasconi Insurance Services, Pearls Farm Labor, Renteria Vineyard Management, Sunridge Nurseries, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Jim’s Supply Co., Garton Tractor, Taddei Vineyards, Gonzalez Vineyard Management, Vineyard Industry Products, A&J Vineyard Supply, Green Valley Tractor, and our partner in health, OLE Health.

Thank you to the Napa Valley community members who served on the Napa County Pruning Contest Committee: Gustavo Aviña, Brianna Beighle, Pam Bond, Garrett Buckland, Chad Clark, Roberto Juarez, Joe Nasharr, Hayden Schmidter, Kendall Smith, Anulfo Solorio, Macy Stubstad and to all the wine industry volunteers who came out to support the event.

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 complimentary 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 23,000 vineyard workers and their families. For more information, visit Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation

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