Invest in People: A Satisfied Workforce Is Sustainable

Wine Industry Advisor

April 2022

At Ridge, we believe sustainability goes beyond organic farming and reducing emissions. It is not only a philosophy and a set of environmentally responsible practices designed to safeguard the land on which we grow our grapes. It seeks to conserve and renew natural resources, protect wildlife habitats, and ensure the safety and economic security of our employees.

Travel and wine writer Barbara Barrielle captures this in her recent Wine Industry Advisor article:

Paul Draper and two vineyard workers
Rafael Dorado, Paul Draper, and Ricardo Dorado of Ridge Vineyards

I first heard the concept of “workplace” or “worker” sustainability when interviewing Paul Draper, winemaker at  Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello and Lytton Springs. Draper has long been known as a leader in sustainability, but I was surprised when he told me the most important part of his approach to sustainability was his workforce.

Draper believes the future of his success lies in keeping his employees and their families happy and healthy. They have health care, housing and access to education, which builds loyalty to Ridge. He introduced me to his vineyard foreman, Rafael Dorado, and a vineyard team member, Ricardo Dorado, both of whom have been with Ridge for more than 40 years. Ricardo’s daughter, Cecilia Aquilar, now works in management for the winery. Ridge paid for her college education as the winery has done for many workers’ children.

And, as Draper explains, having the same core workforce, harvest after harvest, means having people who know his land, soil, climate conditions, growing issues and how to maximize the potential of each vineyard — and, therefore, the wines.

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