Sonoma County wine grape growers honor nearly 4 dozen vineyard workers

Local vineyard workers were honored recently by the Sonoma County Grape Grower Foundation.

The group on Saturday honored 44 men and women as part of a recognition program started in 2018 for those who “excel in growing the world’s highest quality sustainable winegrapes,” it announced.

Eligible for the awards are full-time, part-time and seasonal employees working in the county for a vineyard owner, vineyard management company or winery. Individuals are nominated by their employers each month throughout the year to recognize their various skills, achievements, and exceptional performance in different areas.

Juan Sanchez, of Dutton Ranch, was named a winner of its third Vineyard Employee of the Year award.

Sanchez began his 52-year career at Dutton Ranch when he came from Jalisco, Mexico, in 1969 at age 19. He started working for Warren and Gail Dutton in their farming business with wine grapes, apples, prunes pears and walnuts.

Over the years, Sanchez started out as field worker, was then promoted to tractor operator and to crew leader.

“Juan was always willing to jump in and help however he could,” the announcement said.

So, as the ranch continued to grow, he was named head supervisor, a position he has held for 25 years.

“Juan has been an integral part of Dutton Ranch – his leadership, his integrity and his work ethic have helped shape our business and both me and my brother Joe,” stated Steve Dutton. “Juan is a part of our family and undoubtedly a large part of the success of the ranch.”

The awards event took place at Sunnyview Vineyards, the home of the Sonoma County Winegrape Foundation, in front of the families, winegrape growers, community leaders and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa.

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