Want to work the Napa grape harvest? Due to visa freeze, opportunities abound this year | Local News

The Trump Administration wrote in late June it was “suspending entry” of foreigners who “present a risk to the U.S. labor market” in the wake of high unemployment caused by the pandemic.

“…Visa programs authorizing (nonimmigrant) employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers,” the President wrote in his proclamation, citing high rates of unemployment among Americans between 16 and 24 years old.

So far, though, Reid has not had luck filling his open positions.

“We had two local interns lined up along with the Spanish one, and one of the locals dropped out last week without explanation. We’re scrambling right now,” Reid said.

A number of winemakers have found themselves similarly impacted by the loss of international hires. Artesa Vineyards & Winery winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper, once herself an international harvest intern in Napa, said the winery typically relies heavily on international interns.

International interns often adapt to harvest intern work better than do local workers entering the industry for the first time, Diogo said. They can also arrange temporary, roommate-based housing to cut costs, and are familiar with what constitutes “reasonable” pay for an intern. Pay scale does depend on experience, Diogo-Draper said, noting that applicants with no harvest experience have responded to Artesa’s job posting asking for more money than the winery’s year-round employees make.

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