Sonoma youth excel at pruning contest
4-H competitors (left to right): Ava Castro, Elizabeth Caughey, Francesco Pharo and Sarah Kiser.
Sonoma Valley 4-H and Sonoma Valley FFA recently competed in the eighth annual Sonoma County Youth Pruning Contest and Viticulture Challenge at the Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm, and did well.
This was the largest group of contestants so far, with 40 youths ranging in age from 9 to 19 competing, from throughout Sonoma County.
Sonoma Valley brought 15 students, coached by Pat Stornetta, and, for several, this was their first time competing.
Each participant was given one to three vigorous, fully-grown syrah vines to prune, with size dependent von the participant’s age. Pruners were judged on skill, accuracy of their cut and speed of pruning.
Plaques and pruning sheers were awarded to all first-place winners, and medals were awarded to all who placed. Said Stornetta, “The children worked hard to prepare for this event, learned a great deal about our industry along the way and had some fun too.”
The top five 9-and-under age group winners from Sonoma Valley were: First place, Harrison Caughey; second place Clayton Kiser; third place, Hunter Halkovich; fifth place, Ross Neles.
In the 10- to 11-age group, the top Valley winners were: First place, Elizabeth Caughey; second place Jack Pier; third place Annie Neles; Fourth place, Francesca Pharo.
In the 12- to13-age group, Valley winners were: Second place, Ava Castro; fourth place, Rafael Oseguera.
In the 16- to 19-age group, winners were: Second place, Eric Clouse (Sonoma FFA); third place, Suzanne Amaral (Sonoma FFA).
The other portion of the contest was the Viticulture Challenge, which tests the participants’ knowledge of the vine, cultural practices, the industry and questions specific to Sonoma County. The competition is conducted in the style of the “Jeopardy” TV show, complete with buzzers.
Valley winners aged 9 and under were: First place, Hunter Halkovich; third place, Harrison Caughey; fourth place, Ross Neles; fifth place, Clayton Kiser.
Winners aged 10-to-11 were: First place, Elizabeth Caughey; second place, Annie Neles; fourth place, Sarah Kiser; fifth place, Francesca Pharo.
The lone winner aged 12-to-13 was: First place, Ava Castro.
The winner aged 14 to 15 was: First place, Ava Castro.
Winners aged 16 to 19 were: First place, Suzanne Amaral (Sonoma FFA); second place, Alyssa Anderson (Sonoma FFA); third place, Eric Clouse (Sonoma FFA).
The competition is sponsored by Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Russian River Valley Winegrowers, Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley Winegrowers, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers, Richard’s Grove and Saralees’s Vineyard, Catie’s Corner Vineyards, Vineyard Industry Products, Specialty Foods America, Valdez & Sons Vineyard Management, Debbie and Kirk Lokka and the SRJC Ag and Natural Resource Department.