St. Helena Harvest Collective has been provided with 2/3 of an acre of fertile land on the Charles Krug property

Down to Earth Month: Social Equity

By definition, sustainability rests on three pillars – People, Planet, and Prosperity. All too often sustainability is simply equated with environmental stewardship, when in fact core to sustainability is the recognition that you cannot have environmental or economic sustainability without social sustainability.

We are launching our series of five #DowntoEarthMonth champion stories with an emphasis on social sustainability and opportunities. The subsequent stories (every Thursday, including Earth Day) will focus on energy and water efficiency, climate action, and zero waste. 

Pine Ridge Vineyards & Summer Employment

At Pine Ridge Vineyards, Viticulture Director Gustavo Aviña heard from some of his team that they had teenagers at home looking for work during summer vacation. They decided to offer them work in the vineyard. Now, from June through September high school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to be employed with their parents and learn about viticulture. In some cases, this may become a springboard to a career in the wine industry. Aviña notes they do have to be sure those under 18 have a work permit and there are work limits of 3-4 days a week, no more than six hours per day. For safety, they are not allowed to operate any power equipment.

For some of them this is their first job. They learn about responsibility, to wake up early in the morning, to be on time for work, to follow instructions. My son also says he gained a lot of respect for the people who are there every day managing the vineyards. One thing that I really enjoy are their smiles when they get their first paychecks.

Hyde Vineyards & Year-round Team

Hyde Vineyards employs a 20-person crew year-round. They have found that the dedication of the team, their knowledge of the properties and vines, the quality of the vineyard management and resulting fruit pays dividends over the salaries and benefits. And of course, the job security has benefits for both the employees and their families. Hyde Vineyards largely uses cane pruning, which requires added diligence and man hours to manage. During down-time in the vineyard they do safety trainings and the team transitions to bottling. 

Charles Krug Winery & Harvest Collective

A collaboration has developed to provide farmworkers and independent growers with access to cooperative lands where they can grow crops for secondary income. For the first year the “St. Helena Harvest Collective” has been provided with 2/3 of an acre of fertile land on the Charles Krug property. The Arbol chili peppers already have a buyer – Rancho Gordo. The plot will be divided into beds for a few different growers to tend, and is big enough to grow 7,000 peppers. This will be a pilot project with a goal to expand to other employee gardens and plots of land throughout Napa County where property owners are willing to share with the community.

We really want this to be a community project that anyone can participate in in the future, whether that's growing 5 pounds of food or 100. We want to help diversify social opportunities by offering farmworkers and independent growers ownership in the Collective, and help create a more sustainable Napa Valley community.

Another 1/3 acre of the Krug property will be dedicated to a pollinator garden. Bee boxes are being provided by Tom Clark of Aloft Napa Valley, and a monarch habitat is being developed by Erin Arnsteen with Nimbus/Western Monarch Conservation.

I would love to make this garden accessible to visitors of Charles Krug to learn about the Harvest Collective and the benefits of pollinators. I want this to benefit the whole community, including offering tours of the site for local schools.

The Napa Valley Reserve is growing seed starters for the Collective. UC Master Gardeners and Napa Climate NOW! are helping to find greenhouses for pilot expansion. Ultimately, the Harvest Collective hopes to partner with local restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc. to provide local food and supplemental income for the Collective members.

Read the Down to Earth Month Series:


Down to Earth Month: Social Equity | Pine Ridge Vineyards, Hyde Vineyards and Charles Krug Winery are not only environmentally sustainable but socially sustainable as well. 


Down to Earth Month: Climate Action and Electric Tractors | The 100% electric Monarch Tractor has been developed here in our backyard and vineyards are exploring how to be more energy efficient using new technologies. 


Down to Earth Month: Going Green Energy & Incentives for EV Chargers | Energy efficiency is a core priority for Napa Green Members, Opus One Winery and Rutherford Hill Winery.


Down to Earth Month: Green Team Sustainability Leadership at Stagʹs Leap Wine Cellars | This Green Team has members across multiple departments to ensure that sustainability is integrated into day-to-day operations.

I've been at this for 30 years and this is the best, most well-thought-out program I've ever seen.​