While deeply committed to their winemaking roots, Napa Valley’s farmers are more than just grape growers - they are visionaries, sustainability experts, human rights activists and are at the forefront of adapting the industry to meet an ever changing climate.
On Friday, October 4th members of LNV Class 33 rose early to start Agriculture Day with a harvest “ride-along” at three Napa Valley wineries, Frogs Leap, Quintessa, and Nickel & Nickel. As we walked through the vineyards, we listened to winemakers and vineyardists speak from the heart about what it takes to produce world-class wine. We learned that it is a precarious dance every day to figure out what the vines need. As Rory Williams of Frog’s Leap Winery put it, “We try to think like a grape vine” to figure out what his team can do to work with the vine and help it along. That help comes in many forms, be it applying compost, growing nutrient rich cover crops and cutting off a vine’s water supply to help it build resiliency and produce grapes.
“Weather is no longer predictable these days,” says Dan Petroski of Larkmead Vineyard and Winery. He explained that no two years are identical and climate change will inevitably transform the way wine is produced in Napa. From fires, floods and droughts, grape growers are learning how to deal regularly with these once-rare devastations. The accelerating effects of climate change are forcing the industry to take decisive steps to counter or adapt to the shifts and many are doing this with an eye towards sustainability, while also turning a profit.
Ana Britton of Napa Green, a comprehensive sustainability certification program for vineyards and wineries, detailed the “soil-to-bottle stewardship” elements that not only benefit vineyards, but help sustain the Valley’s precious ecosystems. In a partnership with the Napa County Resource Conservation District and other third-party agencies, Napa Green promotes protecting the Napa River watershed, keeping harmful chemicals out of the Valley’s soil and monitoring energy and water usage. Britton was proud to inform us that Napa Green has successfully certified 60% of all wineries in the Valley and counting.
Sustainability is not just about the land, but also about the people who work tirelessly to keep the vineyards and wineries operating. Social and gender equity and caring for farmworkers is paramount to growing and sustaining the industry. Paul Goldberg of Napa’s Farmworker Foundation presented the work the organization does to support and grow individuals through their education and professional development. We heard from Roberto Juarez and Adriana Zamodia who have benefited from these programs, which have allowed them to improve their English literacy and management skills and become invaluable employees of the Renteria Vineyard Management team.
In order for us to understand the current and future threats to the Napa County Agricultural Preserve, Supervisor Diane Dillon and Ag Commissioner Humberto Izquierdo gave us an overview of the landmark land use policy. We learned the Agricultural Preserve, which was adopted by Napa County’s voters, has enabled the County to maintain its scenic beauty and rural character while other California counties have sacrificed those qualities to development. As the towns within Napa continue to grow and fill in, the pressure to allow development of agricultural lands will likely continue to grow. This process is already underway in St. Helena, Yountville, American Canyon and Napa. Ted Hall, winemaker, owner of Farmstead Restaurant and one of the nation’s leaders in the farm-to-fork movement, echoed the sentiments of Ms. Dillon and Mr. Izquierdo while we feasted on a delicious lunch made from produce grown and meat raised on his local organic farms. According to Hall, “if we protect our Ag Preserve, we protect the wonderful quality of life that it enables all of us to enjoy.”
We also heard from individuals whose missions support Napa County’s Agricultural Preserve. The Napa County Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the Napa Valley Vintners work individually and together to promote, protect and move forward initiatives that enhance the Napa Valley and preserve its winemaking heritage.
Agriculture Day not only helped LNV Class 33 gain a greater understanding of the complexities of making wine in the Napa Valley, we gained insight on the many challenges impacting the preservation of our agricultural sanctuary. Above all, we learned that many passionate people are behind this effort. Their love for Napa County extends far beyond the terroir and benefits the whole community.
Submitted by Bailie, Jami Castro and Nelson Cortez
The Leadership Seminar for Leadership Napa Valley Class 33 was held on September 20, 2019, which was highlighted by a riveting presentation from John Glaser and Ashley Halliday. Both presenters demonstrated masterful command of a key leadership skill; problem solving through collaborative negotiations. They were both extremely knowledgeable, amicable, and driven to help others develop their own leadership skills. The fact that Mr. Glaser showed up to present – and did a tremendous job – with a recently broken arm is a testament to the Leadership Seminar team’s dedication to serving others.
Perhaps the most impactful lesson learned during the day relates to problem solving and specifically how essential and powerful it is to bring all interested parties to the table to collaboratively discuss shared interests, data, options, and tasks. If this step is skipped, trust erodes and negotiated agreements are far less likely to be reached. Absent negotiated agreements, we fall back onto our BATNAs (Best Alternatives to Negotiated Agreements) which are oftentimes poor choices or simply chosen poorly. For example, war is the BATNA when international agreements are not reached, and we all know how that story ends.
We want to sincerely thank Mr. Glaser and Mr. Halliday for their insightful and impactful presentation. These gentlemen are an inspiration to LNV Class 33’s group of aspiring leaders. It would be an honor to take what we learned from Mr. Glaser and Mr. Halliday, and turn that into benefits for the entire Napa Valley community and beyond.
Submitted by members of Class 33: Katelyn Duarte, Norma Ferriz, and Brendon Freeman
LNV Class 32 was hosted at the beautiful Hall Winery for Ag Day. That glass of wine that you had? Don’t take it for granted. Did you know that it takes an entire community of people to produce that for you in a way that makes money, stewards the land, and meets regulations. We heard from groups of people with skin in the game including, but not limited to, the Agricultural Commissioner, District 3 Supervisor, Planning Building and Environmental Services, Napa Green, Fish Friendly Farming, Land Smart, Renteria Vineyard management, The Farmworker Foundation, Napa Valley Growers, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa County Farm Bureau, Wine Growers, California Land Stewardship Institute, and Napa County Resource Conservation District. While not always on the same side of an issue, they work collaboratively to ensure that the Napa Valley brand is upheld to the highest standards and that stewardship of the land is a priority. “Hot topics” such as vintners versus conservationists, women working in primarily male dominated careers, and farmworkers provided thoughtful conversation during the day.
We learned a lot about regenerative farming practices which not only improves the land but improves productivity. There are not only grapevines being planted but planting of flower, clover and other plants to improve insect life. Napa Valley benefits from the wineries not just economically but with the ecosystem improvements that are made to benefit the community overall. The goal of many farmers is to leave the land in better shape than they found it.
Submitted by Joy Riesenberg, participant Class 32
First, Government day was one of my favorite days so far, and not just because we got to put on firefighter gear, play with a firehose, and climb a 100 foot fire ladder, although that was pretty swell. I think it was because we got to learn about some of the most important and difficult jobs that go on behind the scenes in our great community. It made me realize how well we/they work together in Napa, and while we are not perfect, we are very fortunate to have such great collaboration and respect for one another. Maybe it is because we are a small(er) town, or because we have quality leadership, but I also think it’s the people that want to live and work here. There is a sense of pride and dedication to the community in this beautiful place we call home.
Second, I have to say sitting on (mock) city council was pretty awesome! Being a bit of a political junkie it was really fun to sit front and center rather than work behind the scenes. It gave me a new appreciation for how much time and energy our council members, mayor, and other elected’s spend working on all the varied interests of this city and county. It’s a tedious process at times so they have to be pretty committed and passionate for our community to take it on.
Submitted by Valerie O’Pry, participant Class 32
I feel like every time we have a Leadership Napa Valley day I say it's my favorite, but Government Day really was. I have been excited for this day since the start of the program. In the last couple of years I have felt the urge to run for elected office and this day just solidified that feeling. It was inspiring to get to sit down to lunch with Scott Sedgley and hear about how much he cares about this community and how much he KNOWS about this community. We spent the lunch talking about old Napa haunts and what it really means to be an elected official in a small town. By the end of the lunch my desire to run for office was even stronger than it was before.
My other take away from Government Day was that sometimes the unexpected happens. I was assigned to be on the “pro chicken” team for our mock city council meeting. Going into our strategy session my whole team didn’t believe we had a shot to win it. Once we started to brainstorm some ideas we actually started to think that maybe we could win the council vote. Once we got up and did our piece we knew we had done a great job to convince council that we were in the right! It was a great learning experience that sometimes all it takes is a little teamwork and you can accomplish anything.
Submitted by Jessica Penman, participant Class 32
Government day provided a valuable day for our class to have a unique perspective inside the infrastructure of our County and meet many of the industry leaders across various departments and segments of the County. The camaraderie and respect that these officials have for one another is really unique and a breath of fresh air compared to the news we read in the paper and on television. Touring the Fire Station and the inside look there was a lot of fun.
The simulated Town Council was one of the most enjoyable activities of class. Individuals unique personalities came thru and gave a true real life experience to our group. Government is a very proud topic and it was a very good and informative day.
Submitted by Matt McEvoy, participant Class 32
Leadership Napa Valley is seeking a part-time contract membership and community relations director. Interested applicants should review the contracted responsibilities and submit their qualifications and letter of interest to LNV Board President Desiree Brun by March 7, 2019. Click here to learn more.
Criminal Justice Day was an extremely enlightening day. Lieutenant Pitkin’s and Detective Kvamme’s presentation on Human Trafficking was especially informative exposing an entire culture that surrounds us, almost in secret.
Sergeant Jenny’s presentation on Body Warn Cameras (BWC) was interesting in that I had assumed that all police have been using the cameras for years but come to find out that the technology is still relatively new and being refined to more efficiently meet the needs of the police force.
Learning about the Re-entry Program and facility was very intriguing. Just the concept of this program shows the forward thinking of our leaders in Napa County.
Criminal Justice Day was an extremely enlightening day. Lieutenant Pitkin’s and Detective Kvamme’s presentation on Human Trafficking was especially informative exposing an entire culture that surrounds us, almost in secret.
Submitted by Tammy Manning, participant in LNV Class 32.
I was not expecting LNV Planning Day to be as enjoyable as it was. Lucky Class #32 was ensconced in a cozy room at the Westin Verasa where we were treated to the expertise of a dozen enthusiastic, dynamic and diverse individuals involved in Napa city planning. From transportation to waterways to housing to economics, we learned the basics of how city projects go from idea to reality (or not).
After a healthy and delicious fall lunch by Chef Ken Frank at the hotel’s La Toque restaurant (did I mention lucky?), we broke into small groups and ventured into the late autumn sunshine to check out the former Cinedome and skate park sites. Each group used what we had learned in the morning about site restrictions and the needs of the community to brainstorm a project to present to Gordon Heuther, Jeri Hansen and Terry Scott, our “Planning Commission” for the afternoon.
Listening to each group’s pitch was entertaining and enlightening. Although there were a lot of similarities in the plans (underground parking, multi-story buildings, residential units) there were significant differences too. One group gave dog owner’s lots of consideration with a dog park and restaurants with outdoor seating. Another had roof top gardens as part of its plan. And another featured an art alley with roll up doors into artist live/work spaces that looked onto the historic stone buildings across the way.
The “Planning Commissioners” offered thoughtful and positive comments, pointing out items that wouldn’t fly with a real planning commission as well as ideas they thought were creative and solved the problems of the site in an original way. The entire day was a terrific blend of education and play. Personally I came away feeling like I had an enormously improved understanding of how city planning works.
Submitted by Angela Hoxsey, a participant in LNV Class 32.
I took a lot away from our Health and Human Services Day in November. I went with Michele and Krystal from ALDEA Children & Family Services. We toured the wellness center at Harvest Middle School. It was heartbreaking to see that so many of our children carry so much stress with them on a daily basis. While sad it was wonderful to see that kids today are open about their stress and active in caring for their mental health. There is no stigma attached to asking for help for oneself or a friend. Michele and Krystal were incredible guides through this process. Their caring and knowledge is amazing. The amount of care needed and given by ALDEA was overwhelming. - Adam Ghisletta
As inspiring as my tour with ALDEA was the rest of the day was outstanding. The panelists really stood out to me. Their talks were inspirational. I was especially moved by Molly from Waste Not Napa. Last year after Bottlerock I volunteered at the Table feeding the less fortunate. Waste Not Napa brought food left over from Bottlerock for lunch. I didn’t know who brought the food at the time, but thought it was a terrific idea. When I found out during our class that this was a project done by former Leadership students I was blown away. Our class and I have big shoes to fill. The entire day was something I will never forget. - Rina Faletti
One experience will always stand out from the Health and Human Services Day, and this was meeting Celine Regalia, Director of Operations at Collabria Care (formerly known as Napa Valley Hospice). That day, my 83-year-old mother was in the hospital for the third time in a few months. I had been told to visit Collabria Care, which I knew nothing about. Suddenly at the LNV morning coffee chat there stood Celine and Collabria Care. After listening to my mom’s story, Celine encouraged me to make an appointment. Yet, later that day, she touched my elbow during the closing session, saying she would wait at her Collabria office until after Leadership ended.
We met in the empty after-hours building, talking about my mother’s worsening condition and options for comfort care. It was an enlightening experience, because she knew what I did not yet know: that my mother’s time had come. By chance, Collabria ended up providing the hospice care my mother received inpatient at the Queen, and she died just a week from that Leadership day.
Celine demonstrated that it is the alignment of personal with professional vision that feeds true leadership. That meeting changed my perspective, and in doing so it changed my life, because my new perspective allowed me to accept my mother’s unexpected death, and to help my mother to accept it as well. This in turn affected my entire family – down to my 10-year-old daughter, who was so close to her grandmother. During one amazing moment at my mother’s bedside I calmly observed the miracle of my mother explaining her acceptance of her own death in a way her 10-year-old granddaughter could also accept, even if through a veil of tears.
The Health and Human Services Day went far beyond a sampling of professions and professionals; it became very literally a life-changing experience, thanks to a gifted and experienced leadership style. - Natalie Griffin
From the beginning of our Leadership Napa Valley experience, Class 32 was warned that Health and Human Services Day would be an emotional rollercoaster. “Bring tissues,” everyone advised. However, no amount of advice could prepare us for how inspired we would feel at the end of the day. A mentor was assigned to each class member, who spent the morning showing us what their organization looks like in a given day.
Abode Services is built on the principle of Housing First. Their staff work directly with the homeless to not only find housing, but also to provide services to help them sustain that home. Abode Services manages the two year-round homeless shelters, an Emergency Shelter, and a homeless resource center in Napa. The staff of Abode Services meet their clients where they’re at, whether that be newly homeless, chronically homeless, or those needing a temporary helping hand to get back on their feet. Abode provides critical assistance to community members who find themselves homeless such as transportation services, connection to mental health resources, and assistance with housing-related services like utility assistance programs, communication with property managers/landlords, and programs providing free household goods to fill their new residences.
We are so grateful to the mentors, the speakers, the facilitators, the Health and Human Services Department, and the day’s sponsor, Napa Valley Vintners. As always, thank you to Jill and Holly for their leadership and guidance through this incredible program.
Submitted by Adam Ghisletta, Rina Faletti and Natalie Griffin, participants in LNV Class 32.
Dr. John Glaser, Ed.D, educator, scholar, and specialist in organizational development, conflict resolution, and labor relations spent the morning presenting the topic, Creating a Community of Problem Solvers.
A significant handout was presented to the class featuring theory, tools, schematic illustrations, and examples communication, negotiation, and problem solving.
John started by discussing single loop and double loop learning and then took us down and up the Ladder of Inference. (Chris Argyis and Donald Schon) He sensitized the class to the key elements of negotiations and problem solving or how we can become better problem solvers and get better outcomes.
In John’s experience, inadequate communication is a significant cause of conflict. The barriers of conflict can be broken down by reframing problems and looking at them in terms of interests rather than positions.
A taxonomy of problem solving and negotiation featured identifying the following:
This content and more was reinforced by audiovisual presentations and group work. All these learning experiences assisted us in applying our newly gained knowledge on problem solving.
We look forward to our practicum groups experiences knowing this content will become invaluable!
To learn more, we encourage you to check out John’s book, Leading Through Collaboration and the work of Fisher and Ury who co-authored Getting to Yes.
Roland Cavanagh, member of LNV, Class 31, presented Tips for the Practicum based on his experience last year. Roland recommended that the practicum groups immediately agree on creating a shared calendar. He mentioned the concept: Tyranny of the Or and Genius of the And from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins and also suggested we do a Google search on Nominal Group Technique.
Roland shared experiences of being assigned to his practicum group, working together many months until the project completion, and the project presentation event. His group was named best project for the class of 31.
Jill Simmons Techel, LNV program coordinator, presented the concept of the Community Development Practicum. Many examples of previous group practicum projects were passed around the class. Jill discussed the opportunities and the rationale of the practicum group experience. Jill’s discussion was also augmented by audiovisual presentations. Not surprisingly, she encouraged us to work outside our comfort box.
We were assigned to our practicum groups and are now on our way!
What a great day for the LNV Class 32!
Submitted by Bonnie Andersen and Ellen Bermingham, participants in LNV Class 32.
Leadership Napa Valley Class 31 was fortunate enough to experience the Agricultural and Wine Industry just a few days shy of the 50th Anniversary of the Napa County Agricultural Preserve. The implementation of the Agricultural Preserve was monumental for Napa County and it was clear throughout that much of the quality of life we in experience in Napa is a direct result of the vision to protect agriculture as the highest and best use of the land.
Leadership Napa Valley Agricultural/Wine Industry Day 1 was held at Regusci Winery. The class had the opportunity to hear about the Napa Agricultural Preserve directly from Supervisor Diane Dillon and Ren Harris—both have a deep personal connection. Afterwards, and in the pouring rain, the class had the opportunity to take a vineyard walk with the Regusci Family and their staff. The class was particularly impressed with the Regusci’s dedication to good farming practices and their dedication to their industry and how that industry fits in to Napa’s greater community. The day ended with a wine blending session with Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci. It was an incredible opportunity to learn what is required to create the incredible wines produced in the Napa Valley.
Day 2 began at the Mondavi Farmworker Center where the class had the opportunity to learn how the agricultural community and vineyard owners support farmworkers by providing safe and clean living facilities. The class then met with the Farmworker Foundation and learned more about the industry’s commitment to the safety and wellbeing of farmworkers. We were particularly impressed by Armando Hurtado, the first recipient of a scholarship from the Farmworker Foundation to provide educational opportunities for the children of Napa County’s critical agricultural workforce. We were also surprised to learn that women are emerging as leaders in vineyard and farming operations and we had the opportunity to hear firsthand experiences from three women breaking down that barrier.
Day 2 ended at Connolly Ranch where Class 31 experienced life on a working farm that also offers outdoor education to children and families. Connolly Ranch is housed in Napa’s beautiful Browns Valley neighborhood and is equipped with a pond, hiking trails, a beautiful garden, chickens, pigs, and other farm animals. This majestic place supports summer camps, birthday parties, an outdoor playschool for children and public events such as movies under the stars and nature walks. The staff is friendly, sharp, and is incredibly passionate about Connolly Ranch and how it fits in with Napa and the outdoors.
Overall, Agricultural and Wine day was an absolute hit for the Class 31 as it brought us even closer to Napa’s origin and all that it has accomplished as the premier wine growing region of the world.
Submitted by Wes Salter and Molly Rattigan, participants in LNV Class 31.
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