Sustainable from the Ground Up

Nord workers learning latest sustainable vineyard practices.

Napa, CA, May 01, 2008 --( On recent spring afternoons throughout Napa Valley, the vineyards managed by Nord Vineyard Services are quiet. Instead of training vines, the Nord Vineyards crews gather around a table to learn English language skills, review math skills, and learn about the latest scientific techniques in sustainable viticulture. Although many of the workers have no formal education beyond primary school and speak Spanish as their primary language, the workers are eager to absorb the new information presented to them.

To offer these courses, Nord Vineyards ( has teamed up with the State of California to offer work skills to employees. Nord Vineyards was recently awarded a matching-funds grant from the California Employment Training Panel ( to provide skills training to qualified field workers. The grant is designed to retain workers and strengthen businesses to promote a healthy California economy.

Jon Kanagy, a Nord manager who speaks fluent Spanish, teaches the scientific aspects of the course. The 45-hour course covers a variety of vineyard-related topics, including tractor fuel efficiency, dust and erosion reduction in the vineyard, and integrated pest management. Sharon Bontrager teaches the vocational English and math skills parts of the program designed to help the workers improve their communication with management. Nord Vineyards hopes to improve both worker retention and vineyard quality by investing in this employee training.

Vineyard worker Mario Rauda says the training has given him greater confidence in pointing out potential vineyard problems, thus ultimately benefiting both Nord and the vineyard owners. “Now I speak up more quickly because I know more about the vineyards,” Rauda said. “I feel like I’m more important to the company.”

Nord Vineyards manager Julie Nord says that the training will provide both short- and long-term benefits to the workers, Nord, and vineyard owners. “The training is giving new confidence to our key vineyard employees,” Nord said. “Previously, our training focused on specific state requirements for worker protection and safety. The ETP grant allows us to integrate our philosophy of caring for the land in a sustainable fashion throughout our workforce. The workers are eager to learn because they quickly see the connection of why we are doing certain practices in the vineyard.”

Nord will receive a total of $16,380 in funding from the California Employment Training Panel. Since its inception in 1983, the ETP program—funded by California employers—has provided over $1 billion to train more than 76,000 workers statewide.

About Nord Vineyards: Sustaining Napa Valley’s legacy of world-class wines
The Nord family has been making a positive impact on Napa Valley vineyard management and wine production for more than 40 years. Long sought after by Napa Valley winemakers because of its high quality fruit, Nord also receives local, state and national recognition for its sustainable farming practices. For photos, contact Jon Kanagy by telephone at (707) 226-8774 or by email at

Nord Vineyard Services
Julie Nord
High quality photos upon request