Wine Enthusiast Names Napa Valley's Miguel Luna Viticulturalist of the Year
Napa Valley, CA – Born in Mexico, Miguel Luna began working in vineyards in the Napa Valley at the tender age of 13. Just three years later, he was devoting his weekends and summers to working in vineyards. After graduating high school, Luna continued as a vineyard laborer, uncertain where his future might lead him.
While working vineyards in the Stag’s Leap District, he met his now-wife, Cassandra Grassi, who encouraged him to study wine and viticulture at Napa Valley College. While a student there, he joined the Silverado Farming Company in 2009, and began working harvests as a Viticultural Technician for high-profile producers Dana Estates, Atelier Melka and Pahlmeyer among others. As his affinity for vineyards and terroir deepened, he set his sights on attending U.C. Davis, a long-held but seemingly out-of-reach dream. Nonetheless, he preserved, and with the continued encouragement and support of Silverado Farming Company, he earned his degree in Viticulture and Enology in 2014, after which he headed to Bordeaux to work a stage at Chateau de Fieuzal.
Upon his return to the United States, Luna continued working at Silverado Farming Company and was made partner in 2017. Founded in 2001 by Pete Richmond, Arnulfo Solario and Stanley Zervas, Silverado Farming Company oversees farming for some of the nation’s top Cabernet Sauvignon producers, including Dana Estates, Melka Wines, Vineyard 29, Lail Vineyards, Brand Napa Valley, Stag’s Leap, Vineyard 7 & 8, Round Pond and Bart and Daphne Araujo’s new Accendo Cellars. The company donates one percent of its gross revenues through its foundation, One Percent for the Community annually, directing the money to underfunded grassroots nonprofits who focus on farm worker issues and with at-risk youth.
Luna and the Silverado Farming Company team oversee farming for more than 600 acres of revered vineyards across Napa’s top appellations, including Pritchard Hill, Oakville, Rutherford, Diamond Mountain, Spring Mountain, and Howell Mountain. “Since Miguel has joined us he has brought a clear understanding that is not just the quality of the work in the vineyard but the timing of the work that is of equal importance to improving quality,” says Richmond.
Luna, who is 38 years old, is recognized by Wine Enthusiast not only for his exceptional work in viticulture, but for his commitment to transitioning vineyards to herbicide-free environments. “I care about the health of our employees and of the soil, the vines. It’s a great feeling to taste a beautiful wine that is the result of one’s hard work and focus, but to know the environment and people were respected and taken care of during the production of that wine makes it all the more meaningful,” says Luna.
In addition to his vocation as a Viticulturalist, Luna joined forces with Richmond and winemaker Maayan Koschitzky (Atelier Melka) in founding La Pelle, a Napa Valley-based winery. Of Luna’s recent honor, Koschitzky says, “I met Miguel six years ago after joining Atelier Melka. Miguel was helping us in the cellar and slowly transitioned back to Silverado Farming as a partner. Miguel brings a very unique set of skills to the viticulture side. He is a winemaker in training and has a great palate. Miguel loves wine and farms the vineyards while thinking about winemaking. I enjoy working with him on the vineyard side and I am lucky to make wine with him. His diverse knowledge helps us in crafting unique expressions of the wines we are making.”
Luna is also recognized for his work as a mentor; two of his mentees have successfully graduated from U.C. Davis. “I mentor young Mexican men and women who want to pursue a career in enology or viticulture. It is important to have a degree in order to succeed, especially if you are a person of color. It’s my way of giving back to a valley that has given so much to me.”
To learn more about Silverado Farming Company, please visit http://www.silveradofarming.com/