Mar 13, 2018
Sonoma vineyards recognize ‘exceptional’ workers

The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation (SCGGF), recently announced the names of four local vineyard workers who are the first winners of a new program to recognize excellence in the workplace.

“We were overwhelmed by this group of award recipients both for their longevity with their employers and the incredible skills they possess,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers and executive director of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. She added, “Sonoma County Winegrowers are very proud of our skilled workers and we are excited the Foundation is honoring those with exceptional talents in pruning, innovation/creativity, conservation, canopy management, safety and harvest in the coming months.”

For January, the award theme was leadership and the winners of the first award were recognized for inspiring and supporting the performance of their colleagues while taking the initiative to lead and carry out responsibilities beyond their regular job assignments. The January winners are:

  • Gustavo Angiano, an employee at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards for 46 years
  • Manuel Lemus, an employee with Jordan Vineyard and Winery for more than 37 years;
  • Jesus (Chui) Torres Martinez, an employee with Redwood Empire Vineyard Management for 34 years; and,
  • Jesus (Chui) Garcia, who has worked at Bevill Vineyard Management for 9 years.

“The Foundation’s vineyard employee recognition program is a fantastic idea because we farmers are blessed to have an amazing group of people working for us who are truly the backbone of our wine community,” said Kevin Barr, chairman of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation and owner of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management. He added, “It is wonderful that Jesus ‘Chui’ Martinez is one of the individuals being recognized. Chui is like a brother to me and has been with me since the day I started my company. Together we, with a host of other amazing employees, have worked tirelessly over the last 35 years to build a company we are all very proud of. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

The Foundation, relaunched by Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2016, enables the Sonoma County grape growers to be agriculture leaders in social sustainability through partnerships and programs that support the skilled agricultural workforce and their families who sustain farming in Sonoma County.  The new Vineyard Employee Sustainability Recognition Award is being presented to vineyard employees each month who are achieving excellence in the workplace. Employees are recognized and rewarded for individual achievement and exceptional performance in a different theme each month to best showcase the various skills of and numerous contributions made by Sonoma County’s vineyard employees.

Each monthly award recipient will receive gifts in the form of gift cards and clothing as part of their recognition. At the conclusion of each year, SCGGF will host an award luncheon for all monthly award recipients, their family members and their employers.

Nominations are accepted each month for a specific recognition including areas such as safety, leadership, and pruning. Each month, SCGGF selects four vineyard employees for the SCGGF Vineyard Employee Sustainability Recognition Award. To be eligible, a person must be a full time, part-time or seasonal employee working in agriculture for a vineyard owner, vineyard management company or winery. Vineyard employees must be directly involved in the production of vineyards to participate in the program such as a foreman, field worker or related position. All nominations must be submitted by the 10th of the month following the month of the award. March applications are due by April 10th. Nominations should be submitted via the online form or emailed to [email protected]. For more information, visit:

SCGGF was established in 2002 as a nonprofit organization to help fund educational workshops in Spanish for agricultural employees. Relaunched in January of 2016, SCGGF is focused on improving the lives of Sonoma County’s agricultural employees and their families, while ensuring Sonoma County remains a place where agricultural workers will continue to live, work and thrive. SCGGF collaborates with various community-based organizations and government agencies to identify existing resources, leverage available support and create new programs to assist local agricultural employees and their families. This includes a focus on healthcare, affordable housing, childcare, workforce development and education. The Foundation is managed by the Sonoma County Winegrowers with a 12-member board of directors comprised of agricultural leaders, vineyard owners, winery executives, and other Sonoma County community leaders.

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