Your Greatest Tool is Already in Your Vineyard

Wine Industry Advisor

June 2022

The Importance of a Well-Trained Vineyard Team

There are many ingredients that can’t be listed on our label which contribute to the fine wine of Ridge Vineyards. Our ideally matched vineyard sites and grape varietals are a major part of this recipe, but so are our people. We’ve long believed that it’s our care and dedication to the craft that puts our wine over the top.

This sentiment was recently highlighted in an Expert Editorial article from Wine Industry Advisor, written by Thomas Grandperrin. The article stresses the importance of field scouting in a successful Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, making note of its often time-consuming nature. Because of this, many wineries have begun to train their vineyard crew in identifying vineyard pests of all kinds. Our very own Mauro Maldonado, Viticulturist at our 300-acre Lytton Springs estate, focuses on the value of a well-trained vineyard crew.

Not yet familiar with IPM? Learn about our farming practices, including Integrated Pest Management, here.

Mauro Maldonado

An Opportunity to Teach

Part of Mauro’s role as supervisor of our contracted vineyard crew is to implement a pest management program. Having worked in the field since a young age, Mauro immediately identified an opportunity to improve our training approach:

“They always knew where to start looking for powdery mildew, even if they didn’t completely understand the pest. They’re out there every single day, going through every single vine multiple times throughout the year.” 

Mauro built a presentation, in both English and Spanish, that taught the crew more about the pests they were scouting for, including the changes in behavior at each life stage and season.

“The week after my presentation, the vineyard crew started to report new vine mealybug hotspots. I wouldn’t have been aware of those if I had just been scouting by myself and with the interns. 

“That was when I realized the training had worked.” 

Antonio Herrera has worked with the vineyards in Sonoma for over 20 years.

The article goes on:

Maldonado urges his fellow viticulturists not to sell their vineyard crew short. “Teaching them these topics is not going to take a lot of your time and you’re going to get a lot of benefits,” he says. “They’ll also appreciate that you are taking the time to teach them a new skill.”

“No matter your title, position, or seniority, everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging when they work for a company,” he concludes. “By including everyone in your thought process and taking in feedback, you can help achieve that sense of belonging. In turn, you’ll have a crew that’s well rounded, values the work that they do and appreciates your trust in them.”

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