By Emily Turner

NAPA (KPIX 5) — It’s harvest time in Napa and Sonoma and — due to labor shortages — more women have been recruited not only to pick grapes, but also turn them into wine.

You might not expect women to be out in the fields working the vines, but they are there in growing numbers.

Traditionally, winemaking has been a man’s world. But from the vines to the vintners, women are entering this world more than ever before. Guadalupe Rodriguez is one of those women.

She was one of the first few women to take to the vineyards. She says the pay was better than her job at McDonalds.

When KPIX 5 asked her if men or women were better at the job, she didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I say females. Because we are mothers too,” said Rodriguez.

This job with Silverado Farming offers benefits including vacation, sick days, a 401k and profit sharing plan. Vineyard manager Pete Richmond said it’s hard to pass up even if the work is hard.

“My workforce is 40 percent female,” said Richmond. “Five years ago it was only about 5 per cent female.”

Now Silverado Farming is looking into providing childcare services.

Similarly, the majority of winemaker Michael Solacci’s team at Opus One is women.

“Watching them really get into a culture that has not necessarily been welcoming to them — and how they manage it — has been impressive,” said Solacci.

Opus One employee Nathalie Buckland stands example. She works as assistant winemaker and could one day take the reins at Opus One.

“I think we are going into a direction where it’s very equal,” said Buckland. “When you interview for a job, I don’t think there is any difference between a man and a woman.”

Changes to the California labor laws are likely to encourage even more women into the labor pool.

By 2021, the work day will be reduced from ten hours to eight.

Comments (2)
  1. Nice post! We live in Napa Valley and this shift has been underway for many years, but is clearly accelerating. Check out our post on one of the most improbably rags-to-ritches stories in the Valley, one you couldn’t make this up if you tried: a female …Mexican immigrant …grape picker …turned CEO of a vineyard and winery operation. A real hero in our minds, Amelia Ceja.

  2. I applaud more women getting into the wine industry but it was not always as gender blind as Mrs. Buckland sees. Talk to Carol Shelton who graduated from UC Davis in 1978 as one of the first 10 women to get an Enology degree at that time. It was not so easy for women then. You might want to cover where we have been too and not just where we are.