Boots come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are purchased for the way they look, their functionality and comfort. They are essential for most manual labor, especially outdoors. We call someone who can put up with anything as tough as old boots and getting things done requires pulling up those bootstraps.
In Napa Valley, boots are worn by those who make wine at every step of the process. From tending to and picking the gr apes in the fields, to pump-overs and moving aging vessels in the winery, boots are part of the uniform. They remind us, especially in Napa Valley where 95 percent of the wineries are family-owned, that these are real people doing hard work. Their days are long and sometimes their nights are even longer. Their hands are grape-stained, their boots dusted with the many soil types for which Napa Valley is known and their efforts influenced by the sun, rain and wind.
Can you match up these vintners with their boots?
Winemaker, Clif Family Winery and Farm
I wear Rossis, an Australian boot, not to be confused with Blundstones. This slip-on boot has great support, durability and comfort, and they are easy to kick off at the end of a tough day! They are ideal for both the winery and the vineyard.
I am happy to put these boots on and go to work every day, because they support me every step of the way, from vineyard to cellar, as we craft a wine that tells our story.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because I love to be outdoors, walking the vineyards and thinking about ways to improve each block of vines with each vintage. I also love to be in the cellar, climbing barrels and tasting the wines. I love the company I work for, a business built on sustaining our people, our brand, our community and our planet.
Associate Winemaker, Gandona Winery
I wear a pull-on style, steel-toe boot. They are exceptionally comfortable and easy to take off and put on during those times of the year when minimizing any extraneous effort, on even the smallest of things, is greatly appreciated. The leather material serves as a passive record of time and events. As I put them on every morning, I think of everything these boots allow me to do, and sometimes, why I do it.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because ultimately I can’t think of any other line of work that requires the constant intersection of: engaging in the creative process; diving endlessly into complex systems of people, plants, technology, politics, evolution, trade and culture; finding purpose; impressing your parents’ friends; having fun; bouncing casually from the micro to macroscopic; traveling; panicking; indulging; exploring; expanding and evolving.”
Winemaker and Viticulturist, Coqueral Wines
I’m always on my feet, in the vineyards and at the winery. My shoes need to be comfortable and to keep me warm and dry. I rotate between three pairs of shoes: one pair of Blundstone boots against dust and grass seed; one pair of hiking shoes to support my ankles during long vineyard walks where the soil is not even; and one pair of Muck boots for winter walks when the grass is high and wet. All three pairs are always in my trunk.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because we are winegrowing: creating a product that we can watch grow in the vineyard from a bud all the way through to a wine in the glass. My job is to organize all these steps leading toward a final product. At each point along the way, I am grateful to be able to work with passionate people.
Winemaker / Consulting Winemaker, Venge Wines / Hunnicutt Wines
As an owner and winemaker of my own wineries (Venge Vineyards and Croix Estate), and consulting winemaker since 2002 for Hunnicutt Wines, I am always walking a vineyard somewhere! That’s where my Redback Paddock boots from Oz come in handy. But, my favorite shoes are my Sperrys. They have that ‘kicked back, ocean/boating’ feel that I love.
Winemaking is hard work and requires you to always stay on your game. I love ‘walking in my boots’ because I am drawn to the seasonality and continual newness of the vineyard year, which is much different from a calendar year. That seasonality and the ability to make art for myself and others, knowing that no two vintages will ever be the same, is what ultimately makes this line of work so satisfying.
Owner and Winemaker, Brown Estate
I have to admit, when it comes to footwear I rock flip-flops as often as possible, but I always have my Asolo Fugitive Gore-Tex boots close at hand. They are rugged and supportive as well as waterproof, great for hiking hillside vineyards as well as working in the cellar while stylish enough to sport at a winemaker dinner.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because I consider myself a winegrower. I am partial to this title because it encompasses both the farming and winemaking aspects of what I do. I love the uncertainty of it all, the fact that every vintage is so unique and the constant search for creative
and innovative solutions to the many challenges that arise in any given year. I am proud to be a member of the Brown family with our commitment to excellence and stewardship throughout the last 35 years of building Brown Estate.
Owner and Winemaker, La Sirena Wines, Barrett & Barrett
As winemaker for nine other wineries and brands besides my own, I need shoes I can depend on. I like the canvas version of Blundstones for summer vineyard walking. They are lighter in weight and comfortable while still offering protection from stickers or snakes. For cellar work, I switch to Rossi boots which are sturdy and waterproof.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because it is very satisfying to create something that grows from the earth and turn it into an elevated product that is delicious and enhances people’s lives. All the years of hard work and experience really pay off because it becomes more fun the better you get at it! I am proud to carry on the winemaking tradition in my family and try to always live up to my potential.
Owner and Winemaker, Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards
I grew up ranching and so I have always worn cowboy boots. When I started the winery in 1983, I continued to wear them. Not only are they comfortable but snake-proof as well.
I love ‘walking in my boots’ because I really enjoy creating something from the ground up all the way to the bottle. I love all of the people I meet in this industry. I’m proud of the fact that I actually created my vineyards and winery myself. I didn’t hire vineyard managers to develop my vineyards and I did all of my own vineyard work. I pounded every post myself. I’m proud of the fact that I make my own wines without the help of a consultant. I can walk tall in my boots every day as I teach everyone I meet about what we do at our winery.
Answers: 1. Heidi Barrett 2. Adam Castro 3. Laura Barret 4. David Brown 5. Todd Anderson 6. Kirk Venge 7. Christine Barbe