Note: Today’s post completes the series about quality-of-life topics that help define what makes Napa Napa, from healthcare to housing to transportation, in the daily lives of that region’s workers and residents. Farmworkers in Napa, as we described in the last post, are the best-paid agricultural workers locally, regionally, and nationally. Here’s a closer look at how that role continues to evolve through professional development opportunities provided by wineries and vineyard management companies like Renteria Vineyard Management.
Successful career paths are marked by milestones of professional development, from specialized training to supportive mentorship to improving interpersonal communication.
Historically, however, those opportunities weren’t widely available – or even articulately outlined – for farmworkers in the wine industry, even though quality assurance for some of Napa’s most noteworthy wines is in the hands of those very workers.
“We’ve been looking for training in agriculture for the last six years, and it’s been disappointing,” said Oscar Renteria, whose father Salvador founded Renteria Vineyard Management (RVM) in 1989. “I’ve had three consulting companies tell me that, for agriculture, they don’t have a formula of success for us.”
So Renteria, along with many other vineyard management companies and producers themselves, have created their own professional development program. At RVM, that means involving all 42 of their managers in projects such as self-reports on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, learning through web-based programs, and becoming more confident in speaking in English. The self-reports in particular address both obstacles and successes in daily work; it’s a process that, according to Renteria, has broken down a lot of the power struggles between managers, supervisors, and direct reports.
Friday Tailgate Talks are another successful initiative within the company, which employs about 280 people on average, year-round. At the Tailgate Talks, each crew member learns about a current topic, such as a new law that affects them or relevant training.
The most surprising component of the professional development initiative at RVM may be the farmworker “concierge service,” which assists workers and the community with information about a wide range of legal needs and educational services. They include driver’s license assistance, document translation, housing location assistance, pathway to citizenship, public notary, English literacy classes, and high school scholarships. RVM also partners with the Napa Valley Community Foundation, and they’ve seen eleven employees become citizens.