Napa Valley Grapegrowers picks co-founder Ren Harris as Grower of the Year
Ren Harris, who helped found the Napa Valley Grapegrowers trade group nearly five decades ago, has been honored by the organization as its 2021 Napa Valley Grower of the Year.
“Ren Harris is an icon, scratch that, a legend in the Napa Valley. His tireless efforts to preserve and protect the land, the vineyards, the people, and the community are woven into the fabric of the Napa Valley. If the Grower of the Year were to receive an Oscar-like statue instead of a belt buckle, Ren would be the model for it,” group president NVG President Michael Silacci stated in the group’s Friday announcement.
Ren Harris and his wife, Marilyn Pelissa, own Paradigm Winery in Oakville. In the late 1960s, they purchased a prune orchard in Oakville, where Harris began working odd jobs for family and friends.
In 1972, he founded the California Grower Foundation, now Ag Health Benefits Alliance, which established affordable health care access for farmworkers and helped improve work conditions for many. In 1975, Harris, alongside longtime Napa Valley grape growers Andy Beckstoffer, William Jaeger Jr., John Trefethen, Virgil Galleron, Justin Meyer and Joseph Miller, established Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
Harris is a sixth-generation Californian. He began as a history major at the University of San Francisco, then pursued additional education from Napa Valley College, UC Davis, and most recently, the University of Bordeaux.
In addition to his deep commitment to the Napa County community, Harris’s “day job” from 1980–2003 was in vineyard and winery real estate.