Organic Wine Podcast

Gabriela Fontanesi - Vineyard Worker & Force of Nature

April 5, 2022

Recorded on, and released in honor of, Caesar Chavez Day.

My guest for this episode is Gabriela Fontanesi. Gabriela has one of the most unusual and unique paths into wine that I’ve ever encountered. Because of that, she brought questions and perspectives that have incredible power to transform the way you see and think about this industry and that led her on a journey of being a vineyard worker, and to Mexico where she recorded this interview, so that she could improve her Spanish and one day conduct wine tastings for Spanish-speaking farm workers here in California.

Some of the points she brings up include: the laws that surprisingly don’t apply to farm workers, and why that is; How our separation from farming is what allows for the exploitation of the people who do the farm work; the euro-centric nature of formal wine education; the troubling idea of objectivity in wine tasting and if it accounts for the treatment of those who grow the wine; and the opportunity that wine has to bring change because of the narratives it tells. And so much more.

Gabriela is a non-stop force of insight and this interview is packed with some of the most important ideas we can grapple with as an industry. If you get nothing else out of it, I hope you’ll be inspired by Gabriela to ask better, harder questions and to keep asking them regardless of where they take you.

Gabriela would like to give a shout out to two great organizations that she supports. The first is AHIVOY which provides mentoring & scholarships for vineyard stewards in Oregon. You can learn more at or @ahivoyoregon.

And the second organization is The Botanical Bus – a bilingual mobile herb clinic. You can find more at or @botanical.bus

Gabriela can be contacted through her Instagram @gpfontanesi  


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