Graduation Day Tres

AHIVOY students celebrate

José Tejada smiles after receiving his AHIVOY program certificate of completion. ##Photo by Sean Carr
Jorge Cerpas shaking hands with AHIVOY Co-Founder, Miguel Lopez. 
##Photo by Sean Carr
Graduates of the 2022 Asociación Hispana de la Industria del Vino en Oregon y Comunidad program.##Photo by Sean Carr

By Neal D. Hulkower

On April 27, 15 men completed the Asociación Hispana de la Industria del Vino en Oregon y Comunidad, or AHIVOY. The Wine Industry Professional Training Program is the third – and largest – cohort to do so. While many of the 2022 graduates worked in the vineyards for over a decade, José Garcia, The Eyrie Vineyards manager, trained and pruned vines for 35 years. The ceremony included this year’s program graduates, their employers, instructors and AHIVOY board members.

The 17-week program is comprised of six-hour weekly sessions. It allows a broad overview of the wine industry, with a specific focus on Oregon. Held at the Eola campus of Salem’s Chemeketa Community College, topics include vineyard management; grape and wine certification programs; winemaking; winery logistics; vineyard and winery business structure; compliance; the evolution and future of the Oregon Wine Industry; how to open, pour, serve, taste, and describe wine; and wine sales. Field trips to local vineyards and wineries complement the knowledge gained in the classroom. The students also are given Wine & Spirit Education Trust, or WSET, Level 1 and Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, or OLCC, training. Program graduates also qualify for continuing education credits.

Jesse Lange, winemaker and general manager of Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards, hosted this year’s AHIVOY graduation ceremony at his winery in the Dundee Hills. An enthusiastic supporter of the program, he explains the benefits of the training, “So far, three of our long-time employees have participated in the AHIVOY program- one for each year of its existence. These graduates have all shown more knowledge, aptitude, and enthusiasm after completing the program.

This kind of opportunity for engagement is wildly successful– for the students as well as the employers. Our Oregon wine-country community created this curriculum from scratch–let’s bring this wonderful program to scale!”

Lunch was sponsored by the local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, or LDEI. Member Mary Cressler, founder of Vindulge, prepared lunch that included smoked pork, donated by Carlton Farms, and Pix Pâtisserie created dessert pastries. Lange Estate Winery, Ponzi Vineyards, and Chemeketa Cellars provided the wine.

AHIVOY President DeAnna Ornelas, brand ambassador from Winderlea Vineyard and Winery, emceed the ceremonies. “I hope that this isn’t the end of your journey, that this is only the beginning,” she urged. Ornelas offered continued support and encouraged the graduates to stay in touch.

After Lange welcomed the attendees, Elena Rodriguez of Alumbra Cellars, a member of AHIVOY’s Education Committee, offered her congratulations, along with AHIVOY co-founder and Vice President Sofía Torres-McKay of Cramoisi Vineyard and Winery, and Red Dirt Vineyard Management and Winemaking’s Miguel Lopez, the other AHIVOY co-founder and Education Committee member. Rodriguez and Lopez regularly attended the classes to offer personal support and translation assistance. Torres-McKay advised graduates to continue their education and learn English, “but don’t forget your roots.”

Lopez recounted the conception of AHIVOY from an idea discussed around morning coffee with the late Jesús Guillén and Torres-McKay before they went off to their jobs. “[The] biggest catalyst that helped was an article published in the Oregon Wine Press back in 2018 that highlighted the three of us.” He emphasized encouraging others to pursue their career options “when we go through the door, we need to keep it open.”

During the celebration, Ornelas thanked Argyle Winery for its $5000 donation, sufficient to fund two vineyard steward scholarships in next year’s program. Argyle Winery, represented by Marketing Coordinator Cathy Martin, also donated wine three packs of 2019 Ojo Brilloso Pinot Noirs pr

duced from small blocks selected by three vineyard supervisors; they were given to each member of the graduating cohort.
Torres-McKay and Lopez presented certificates to the graduates, each of whom expressed gratitude in either English or Spanish.

When the group first entered the ceremony, all wearing ecstatic smiles, this banda de hermanos felt the same energy as a sports team entering a stadium.

Lopez noticed this vibe, too. “These graduates created a unique bond through the program; they know they are now part of a bigger network.” Torres-McKay likened this to legendary camaraderie, a hallmark of the Oregon winemaking community.

Scholarships for the program are made possible by generous winery donations and fundraising activities held throughout the year. Las 4 Amigas occurred on May 28, and highlighted the wines produced by four Latina-owned wineries. A portion of the revenue generated went to AHIVOY. Rosé on the Rooftop took place on June 2 at Lolo Pass in Portland. A golf tournament and auction are also being planned.

AHIVOY hopes to attract enough interest, especially among female vineyard stewards, to fill two cohorts in the coming year. In 2023, classes will be held every Wednesday from January 4 through April 26 at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

Applications are available now and must be submitted by November 1, 2022.


Members of the Third AHIVOY Cohort

Adan Vega Alcantar, Scenic Valley Farms

Jesus Barajas, Results Partners

Hector Cabrera, Argyle Winery

Jorge Cerpas, Björnson Vineyard

Hilario Contreras, Laurelwood Vineyard Management

Jose Garcia, The Eyrie Vineyards

Jose Lemus, JoVitis Terra Vineyard

Alfredo Hernandez Lopez, Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards

Rosario (Jose) Madrigal, Results Partners

Juan Mendoza, Results Partners

Fernando Negrete, Vitis Terra Vineyard

Juan Carlos Olmedo, Patricia Green

Jose Rameriz, Star Mooring Vineyard

Francisco (Jose) Tejada, Results Partners

Luis Vargas, NW Wine Co.

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