Founded in 1885, V. Sattui Winery has a long history in Napa Valley, and the manager of its nearly 300 acres of vineyards, David Béjar, has a long history with the winery.
Like the vines he has overseen there for 22 years, Béjar has deep roots in the industry.
He was born in the Mexican state of Michaocán in the 1960s and moved to Ensenada in Baja at age 11, after the death of his father. He started out in the vineyards there pruning then harvesting. At 15, he moved to Santa Rosa with an older brother and took to working in Sonoma County Vineyards.
By 24 he was a vineyard foreman for Domaine Chandon, and several years later, vineyard management company Jack Neal & Sons recruited him. In December 1996, owner Dario Sattui hired him as assistant vineyard manager. When the vineyard manager left five years later, Béjar stepped into the role.
“Despite lacking some of the theoretical knowledge at the time, David made up for it with his long farming experience, his attitude, his great leadership skills, his willingness to learn and his work ethic,” Sattui said. He describes Béjar as soft-spoken and self-effacing.
But Béjar boldly encourages employees to learn English, take classes and assume more responsibility. He challenges women to excel in the traditionally male-dominated work, and that’s paid off. Celia Perez, a leader of the women’s crew at V. Sattui, in 2014 won the first women’s division competition at the 13th Napa County Pruning Contest, put on by Napa Valley Grapegrowers.