On October 1st, LNV Class 34 had the opportunity to take a peek "behind the curtain", as a variety of wineries, vintners, grapegrowers, and other local industry leaders hosted the 2021 "Ag Day" in the field and at Farmstead Restaurant in St Helena.
At sunrise, three groups met with production staff at Nickel & Nickel, Quixote and Napa Wine Company to witness Harvest first hand. At Quixote, Vineyard Manager Mike Wolf answered questions pertaining to staffing, housing, organic farming, pesticides, drought, and vineyard economics. The group saw grapes being picked first hand in the vineyard, then brought to the crush pad for processing. Winemaker Robert Smith explained to the group, “We are lucky to be controlling a lot of variables here” since they grow, process, store and age right on the estate, unlike other wineries who may not have the facilities for all parts of the production process. The two other Groups saw similar examples at other wineries, had the opportunity to discuss sales, marketing, and even an early morning wine tasting!
Just after 9am until mid-afternoon, the three groups convened at Farmstead Restaurant in St Helena for three sessions covering topics from the AG Preserve and Environmental Stewardship to Personal Perspectives from female and migrant farmworkers. Each topic was covered in great detail and created eye-opening moments and heart-warming memories for the Class 34 Attendees.
To kickoff the sessions, Ag Commissioner Tracy Cleveland discussed general facts and figures pertaining to California agriculture, and Napa winegrowing in particular. She covered some of the services her office provides such as advocacy and support for growers, passes and access to crops during fires, and masks for migrant workers during covid.
Other leaders and representatives of the Ag Community such as Michelle Novy from Napa Valley Vintners, Molly Morán Williams from NV Grape Growers, Michelle Benvenuto from Winegrowers of Napa County, and Peter Nissan from Napa County Farm Bureau shared how their organizations support agriculture, farmers and preserve, protect and promote the brand of the Napa Valley.
We heard from a 4th Generation grape grower named Andrew Hoxsey who shared colorful stories of Napa when it was dairy farmers and rogue pioneers. It was, in part, due to his family's contributions that set up the AG Preserve so that the Napa Valley would never become suburban tract homes like the ones popping up in Santa Clara and Los Angeles.
Molly and Michelle led a discussion on climate change and environmental stewardship that broke LNV34 participants out into teams presenting the variables they would control in order to decrease their carbon footprint by 20%.
A panel including Concerned Environmentalist, Martin Reyes MW, Soil Expert, Ben Mackie, and Viticulturist and Activist, Caleb Mosley presented a serious situation and what is being done in the vineyard to mitigate global warming.
Paul Goldberg, President of the NV Farmworker Foundation, shared success stories of community integration, education and professional development programs they have brought to the farmworker communities. He introduced a young hispanic worker named Roberto Juarez who was thankful to learn English, gain professional experience and now has a successful career in Napa that can support his family due to the efforts of the Farmworker Foundation.
The afternoon closed with Perspectives from three women representing Female Vineyard Leadership - Brittany Pederson, Marlene Qintana and Ana Sierra. The audience was able to ask questions and learn about some of the challenges of being a female and heard a touching story from Ana Sierra about being a non-English speaker and how she has overcome challenges on the job in Napa.
At the end of the program, the group agreed it was a lot to process, but a truly mind-shifting experience.
When asked what the group most appreciated, LNV 34 attendee Craig Finster said, "I have lived in the Valley for years and never seen or learned as much behind the scenes as I did today. And for that, I am thankful."
Class 34 - Agriculture Day Gratitude
Program Day 4: Friday, October 1, 2021
Brenda Burke, Community Investment and Strategic Partnerships Manager, Jameson Humane
Chris Cutler, Principal, Stoic Technologies
Kathy Cruz, Partner, G & J Seiberlich & Co. LLP
About this post:
The purpose of the Attitude of Gratitude program is (1) to thank those who provide the information and experiences that make each of the program days exceptional, and (2) to reflect on what has changed for the class members as a result of their participation in Leadership Napa Valley. For each of the class program days, a gratitude team is assigned to make sure all the individuals responsible for coordinating, facilitating, and presenting the day are thanked.