Napa Valley workers compete in vine trimming contest

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- On Thursday in the Napa Valley the pruning shears were out for a fun competition. This February the buds are breaking early and it is time to trim the vines back, but it wasn't just any day in the vineyard.

The best in the valley squared off in a vine trimming contest at Beringer Vineyards.

Last year, Celia Perez achieved the highest total score in last year's Napa Valley pruning contest. Even so, she said she was a little nervous for this year's competition.

The winners would get a cash prize, maybe a raise or promotion, and the prestige of knowing you beat the best grape vine pruners in the valley.

Every one of the contestants was an all-star sent by local growers. They don't just work fast, they use instinct and precision.

It may seem like a subtle distinction, but where a pruner cuts, and how, can make the difference between a great bottle of wine or a headache. It's an art.

Arnulfo Solario, one of the judges, said vine pruners are "just like a doctor, I would say. That's a good analogy. Like a doctor, you can't get to a patient and start cutting without knowing what you're doing."

Solario came to the Napa Valley from Mexico 35 years ago and worked his way into a partnership at Silverado Farms. He has a career built, literally, from the vine up.

"I think the opportunity is here for everyone," Solario said.

At the end of the day Perez finished in fourth place.
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