Meet Brenae Royal: The woman behind Gallo's historic North Bay vineyards

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Gallo vineyard manager Brenae Royal grew up far away from vineyards in the Central Valley town of Atwater, about an hour north of Fresno.

"Gallo had a faux Magnum of Apothic red and I very excitedly started screaming and was like, 'You guys have to hire me because I enjoy drinking it and I have a farming background,'" said Royal.

To her growing grapes is farming.

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"We are out here in the elements to develop and cultivate wine grapes for winemaking. So we are farmers and we're outside. We're truly farming and I'm not walking around with a pitchfork, but I'm a farmer," said Royal.
Her love of farming started with her grandmother who had a large garden that needed tending.

"She would always ask the grandchildren to go and pull weeds for her. And I was the only one that did it, she would always give me all the excess seeds. And I would go and destroy my mom's backyard with her blessing, thank you, mom," said Royal.

She also raised pigs, but understandably, her mother wasn't fond of the smell Brenae would bring back to the car so she had to find her own way there.

"I would ride my bike six miles one way, every day during the summer to go to take care of my pigs," said Royal.

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Her dedication was evident from the start, despite being one of the few Black people in Atwater and the region. "I think any young person of color in a community that maybe isn't rooted directly in farming, farming is all around us. And so I believe I was successful because I put myself out there," said Royal.
Brenae attributes this to her mother, a school teacher, and grandmother, who worked in the fields.

"My grandma is a little spitfire like she very much will tell you straight of how things are gonna go. She always just wanted to see especially the the girls in our family just do whatever a man can do," said Royal.

Her love of farming grew by attending Future Farmers of America and eventually going to Chico State to study agriculture.

"When she saw that I was kind of breaking from a traditional mold. She was like, you know, I don't understand it, but go do it," said Royal. "They're the reason that I can just be me and be as confident as ever and do anything."

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