Aquiles Onecimo Giron Sanchez chats with Miguel Lopez. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson

Elevando Voces

Q&A: Aquiles Onecimo Giron Sanchez

OWP presents Elevando Voces (Raising Voices), a collaboration series by photographer Andrea Johnson and vineyard manager Miguel Lopez. Both hope to establish a platform for hardworking Hispanic workers of Oregon’s vineyards and cellars to share their stories and unique perspectives. 

How long have you been here in the U.S.?

Approximately 34 to 35 years.

Where have you lived?

I arrived in Madera, California, [where] I lived for roughly 20 years, and then I moved to Oregon in 2004, and to date, I haven’t moved from the state.

Where do you work and how long have you been there?

I work at Soter Vineyards. I started in 2004, so it’s been 16 years.

What brought you to Soter?

When I arrived, I started working for various farmers and the opportunity came up that [Soter] needed a groundskeeper. So my nephew invited me to come work, and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I enjoy the most is almost everything, but my most enjoyable [task] is organizing the winery, so everything is in order and easy to find.

Do you have family here?

Yes, I have my wife, and two sons and a daughter.

Do you worry about their safety in the community?

Absolutely. I want them to stay healthy. It’s sad to have someone sick in the family and try to pay attention to the work you do. Thankfully, everyone is healthy.

What worries do you have with the current affairs?

What worries me right now is the bad governing we have now. I hear that we are at a low in the eyes of the world. It is hard to hear that we are not wanted and also that they forget that it’s the labor force that help keep things going.

Is visiting home easy after so many years of living here?

Thanks to God, we have the opportunity to come and go since 1985. It’s easy to come and go for me. It would be very difficult if I didn’t have this.

What do you think the future looks like for you?

I hope that we are all well in health and have more success and prosperity in work and life. In wine, I want to keep my focus high to keep making wine.

How has your relationship to wine/vineyard evolved over the years?

Since I came (to the States), I’ve worked in farm labor, mainly in vineyards, and, fortunately, I had the opportunity to do this work from planting a vine to bottling. I feel fortunate to have come to this point in my life. I’ve had great experiences and bad ones along the way, but it’s been great experiences more often than not.

Is wine becoming more of a popular beverage in the Hispanic community?

I think more people are drinking wine more, but it’s also hard for them to afford the wines of Oregon. That’s a limiting factor for the Hispanic community. We celebrate with good wines a couple of times a year (birthdays, weddings, baptisms, holidays).


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