Vineyard Team's Juan Nevarez Memorial Scholarship
Helping Children of Wine Industry Workers
Higher education is important to many students but paying for college can be challenging. The Juan Nevarez Memorial Scholarship makes higher education investments in the children of California's vineyard and winery workers. The majority of awardees are the first in their family to attend college. First-generation students have more barriers when it comes to attaining higher education – they cannot ask their parents how to navigate the system, budgets are often tight, and they can feel guilty for leaving their families. This funding helps students and their families achieve their dream of becoming a college graduate and pursuing a professional career.
More Than a Scholarship
Because our goal is college success, the program includes multi-year scholarships to trade, two-, or four-year schools plus a graduation bonus. We also provide a dedicated mentor to support the students throughout their collegiate career. With the help of our community, we can transform lives by increasing graduation rates and developing a qualified workforce that will contribute to their communities.
Meet the Scholars
How You Can Help
Vineyard Team needs to raise significant matching funding by June 30 every year in order to keep the generous $1.3 million pledge from Must! Charities.
Contributions from the community continue to be essential to the success of the program. In the true spirit of sustainability, we want to create a long-lasting program so that we can continue to better the lives of our industry's children for decades.
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Since 2015, over $270,000 in scholarships have been awarded! Mulit-year recipient Evelyn says, “There is no doubt that being a recipient of the Scholarship has helped me to get where I am today. It has not only made a significant difference in financially supporting my educational journey, but it has also opened up so many doors through which I was able to begin my career in viticulture.”
Our mission still needs all the support and help we can get to positively impact even more children of vineyard and winery workers.
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About Juan Nevarez
“Our Dad had one requirement for all his children: we must graduate from college.” - Eufemia, Juan's daughter.
The program is named in honor of Juan Nevarez, a beloved member of the Central Coast winegrape industry, whose kindness, expertise, and passion shaped many local vineyards. Nevarez spent a lifetime working every job he could gathering knowledge that eventually enabled him to start his own vineyard management company, Nevarez Farm Labor, and own his own eighty-acre vineyard. Although Juan struggled to read and write himself, he dreamed of higher education for his children.
Juan Nevarez was a dreamer. But the difference between Juan and many at that time was his ability to turn his dreams into reality and share that opportunity with others. When he left Durango, Mexico in 1977 at the age of 17 and landed in Pennsylvania working at a mushroom packing plant he met a woman named Marta who equally had the vision of owning a family farm out west. After marrying in Chicago, they packed up what little they had and moved to California.
In 1980, Juan and Marta landed in Paso Robles as farmworkers and quickly found themselves working in what was the start of a growing wine industry. Juan could do it all: planting, pruning, harvesting the grapes, working in the cellar, and running the bottling line. With every task Juan was asked to complete, he always found a more efficient way to do the job and train more people alongside him. He was a natural-born leader for what quickly became a region in need of more farmworkers as Paso Robles was becoming a future ‘wine country.'
After working for JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery for several years, Juan saw the demand for vineyard development and started his own vineyard management company, Nevarez Farm Labor, which still today is a main labor supplier for many of Paso Robles’ esteemed vineyards.
Juan and Marta’s dream of having their own vineyard and producing their own wine finally came true in 1996 when slowly but surely he poured his savings into planting one block at a time. Today, his eighty-acre vineyard produces remarkable wine grapes that are coveted by some long-term winery relationships. When Juan passed in the fall of 2020, his three talented children stepped up to the plate and are carrying on his legacy with the heart, soul, and strength Juan taught them to have in continuing the farm labor contractor business.
“Our Dad had one requirement for all his children: we must graduate from college,” shares Eufemia. “It didn’t matter what we wanted to study or where, but he insisted we don’t come home until our diploma is printed and hanging on the wall in the living room! Our dad struggled to read and write but this was not a challenge for him. He was able to build this company and vineyard for us by developing relationships with people and being a man of his word.”
Vineyard Team is proud to pay tribute to a Paso Robles Pioneer through the Vineyard Team Juan Nevarez Memorial Scholarship which supports families of vineyard and winery employees in their educational pursuits.