Allen holstein leads an AHIVOY session in a Chemeketa classroom. ##Photo by Neal Hulkower

There They Go!

AHIVOY begins training, education

By Neal D. Hulkower

Jesus Guillén must be smiling. The organization he envisioned for broadening vineyard workers’ opportunities in the wine industry is real and has begun affecting lives. Asociacion Hispana en la Industria Vinicola de Oregon was conceived and named by the late winemaker for White Rose Estate and Guillén Family Wines, with Sofía Torres-McKay of Cramoisi Vineyard, and Miguel Lopez of Red Dirt Vineyard Labor. AHIVOY, the acronym by which the group is known, translates to “there I go.” And it has gone far since the idea came to light in August 2018.

The Debut

AHIVOY held its first public event Nov. 3, 2019, at Pura Vida in McMinnville. A fundraising dinner and silent auction attracted 42 attendees, including winery and vineyard owners, raising $5,000. Chef Ricardo Antunez prepared a brilliant menu of French-Latin fusion paired with wines from Alumbra Cellars, Grochau Cellars, Guillén Family Wine and Cramoisi Vineyard. Organizers announced AHIVOY was in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and had begun accepting donations to fund the first wine industry professional training for current vineyard workers. One of the first students, Marco Corado, now at Hyland, was a special guest.

The Mission

The educational initiative is the realization of AHIVOY’s mission statement, which was “formed with the purpose of creating opportunities and empowering Latino vineyard workers of the Willamette Valley through education to overcome socio-economic challenges and strive toward realizing their ambitions. AHIVOY seeks to break down the barriers that many vineyard workers face in relation to education and income disparities.”

The organizational goals emphasize creating a career path, encouraging learning English, attracting “more students to continue their education in the wine industry and stay in [it]” and “[collaborating] with the community to promote education at all levels.” Torres-McKay urges workers to “learn something new every year and inspire others to do the same, this will allow you to open the door to new opportunities, be ambitious, be curious and make your dream job come true.”

The first step toward that goal was taken Jan. 15, 2020, when the wine industry professional training, developed in coordination with Chemeketa, began as a pilot at its Salem campus. Jessica Sandrock was instrumental in designing the English-language curriculum and has since handed the reins to Paul Davis, the interim director, and Megan Jensen, program coordinator. Elizabeth Cryan, the training facilitator, will monitor how well the students learn the language and contribute any changes needed in the future. The first of two 10-week terms runs through March 18. The students will spend one six-hour day each week in the classroom and on field trips to vineyards and wineries.

During the first term, students will learn vineyard and winery terms in English, demonstrate basic job-related communications and obtain a detailed overview of the process of growing grapes and making wine, complying with best practices for sanitation, and health and safety with government regulations. Instructors for this term included Allen Holstein, a retired vineyard manager; Don Crank of Hawks View Cellars; Will Hamilton of Violin Wines; and others from the industry. AHIVOY board members will also share their wisdom.

From April 1 to June 3, the second term will focus on wine tasting and sales with additional exposure to relevant terms in English. Other topics include learning wine labels, providing customer service, wine sales and marketing, tourism and wine, tasting room models and educational opportunities beyond the program. Instructors are to be determined.

Each term has formal measures of success tied to performance-based learning outcomes. Sandrock explains, “Other assessments will be facilitated throughout the training to determine if students gain a greater understanding and awareness of the complete winegrowing, making, evaluating and sales/business process. A major goal of this program is to help students see how their work fits into the bigger picture, also to explore additional learning opportunities for career growth and leadership in the industry.” Successful students will receive a non-credit certificate at the end of the training.

The program’s progress will be preserved in the Oregon Wine History Archive at Linfield College. “We are working with Rich Schmidt to start interviews with students and vineyard stewards and the wineries that are supporting these students,” Torres-McKay says.

The Resources

The cost of the program for the pilot year is $1,200 per student for the two terms. In addition, AHIVOY offsets the wages lost for the hours in class. To encourage commitment, students are expected to contribute $300 over two or three payments. The Erath Family Foundation gave AHIVOY a grant to fund all students for 2020. Dick Erath wrote in an email: “AHIVOY is a grassroots group dedicated to the advancement of our Hispanic workforce that is so instrumental to the success of the Oregon wine industry; they deserve our full support.”

The First Day

On Jan. 15, the first group of students began their studies. They represented Hyland, Lange, Montinore, Ponzi, Results Partners and Wine by Joe. After introductions by Cryan, Torres-McKay, Lopez and the students, Holstein delivered the first lessons on vineyard management. Topics covered were useful vineyard calculations, vine balance, pruning weight, record keeping, accounting and commercial aspects of the Oregon wine business. Despite the compressed schedule of the program, subjects were covered in depth. For instance, the students were given handouts covering conversions between units and rules of thumb for determining key vineyard parameters, such as tons per acre and yield. The class also visited the campus vineyard for pruning lessons.

When asked about their goals for the course, many who worked in the vineyard wanted to learn more about the winemaking process, while others were interested in being promoted to management roles. Sergio Reyes, vineyard manager at Montinore, says, “I want to be an example for my kids.”

Looking Ahead

With funds secured for this year, mobilizing support for 2021 is the top priority. Torres-McKay encourages the wine industry to learn more about the program, sponsor a student, send an employee and, of course, “contribute so we can continue our efforts.”


Jesus Guillén reminded us: “The skilled manual labor that Hispanics provide in the vineyard is essential for making high-quality wine. Give them opportunities to grow and also to learn more about the beautiful product they are helping create.”

AHIVOY and Chemeketa are now fulfilling this dream.

For more information, including how to contribute, visit or email


  • Author Katherine Cole is hosting an invitation-only fundraiser at her home on Feb. 20. She explains her interest, “When I interviewed Sofía Torres McKay and Miguel Lopez for an article about the labor crisis for SevenFifty Daily, I was struck by the elegant simplicity of the AHIVOY concept. It’s very straightforward and easily actionable: The more money the program earns, the more workers can enroll in the program.” Contact Torres-McKay at if you’d like an invitation.
  • In collaboration with other Latino wineries, Cramoisi is planning a Latino market at their new tasting room in May.
  • July 17, a golf tournament, dinner and silent auction will be held at Michelbook Country Club in McMinnville.
  • Harvest and Christmas events are being considered for later in the year.
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