In the picturesque landscapes of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, a tradition that had been dormant for over a decade since the last Mendocino Winegrowers event was rekindled on Friday, February 17, 2023. The first annual Anderson Valley pruning contest emerged as a celebration of craftsmanship and a testament to the dedication of those contributing to the production of some of the world’s finest wines in Anderson Valley.
The contest saw the enthusiastic participation of 30 skilled pruners, each eager to showcase their expertise in shaping the vineyards. Sponsors, including industry giants such as Bacho pruning tools, Atlas Vineyard Management, and Casa Cristal, played a pivotal role in making the event a success. Their support highlighted the significance of recognizing the hard work that goes into producing high-quality wines.
Vineyard manager Andrew Beebe of Roederer Estate spearheaded the event, joined by dedicated volunteers Norman Kobler of Philo Vineyard Solutions and Travis Foote of Strictly Vineyard Management. The contest adopted a “heat” style approach, with participants pruning 3-5 vines per heat. The scoring system focused on three key aspects: Speed, Cleanliness, and Accuracy in the correct bud count. Point deductions were applied judiciously, ensuring a fair evaluation.
The thrilling competition culminated with the announcement of three deserving winners. Roberto Lazaro claimed the coveted first place, showcasing unparalleled skill. Miguel Acevedo secured the second position, while Ricardo Calderon earned a well-deserved third place. The event also recognized the fastest female pruner, underlining the increasing diversity in the field.
Executive director Courtney DeGraff expressed her excitement, emphasizing that the day was a remarkable opportunity for the Winegrowers Association to unite the vineyard community and celebrate their craft. DeGraff highlighted the importance of consciousness and precision in vineyard management, stating that it’s not just about speed but ensuring the vines are meticulously prepared for the upcoming season, ensuring a bountiful and beautiful harvest.
The success of the fourth pruning contest has set the stage for an annual tradition. The Winegrowers Association, in collaboration with sponsoring partners, looks forward to making this celebration of craftsmanship a recurring event. A recap of the 2023 contest is available on YouTube, allowing enthusiasts and industry professionals to relive the excitement and expertise displayed during this memorable day.
The revival of the fourth Anderson Valley Pruning Contest in 2023 marked a triumphant return for a tradition that honors the dedication and skill of those who contribute to the region’s renowned winemaking. As the vineyard community came together to showcase their craft, the event proved to be a resounding success, promising a bright future for this annual celebration of excellence in Anderson Valley.