St. Helena, Napa Valley, September 2020 — Appellation St. Helena, an organization representing wineries and vineyards in the St. Helena growing region, awarded scholarships to two students who graduated from St. Helena High School in June. This is the eighth year that the local organization has recognized St. Helena High School students who plan to make their careers in the wine industry. Each student received $500.00. The scholarships were awarded on June 8th and 9th by Principal, Benjamin Scinto at the St. Helena High School Graduation Ceremony.

The student recipients were Jesse Cole (who will attend Santa Rosa Junior College this fall to study Agriculture Business or Sanitary Welding) and Stefhany Rios (who will study Agriculture Education at UC Davis).

Jesse Cole

Jesse was active in football, the FFA, St. Helena Fishing Club and the high school’s welding team. He was on the Honor Roll for several years during high school and won awards in the welding program. Outside of school he was involved with the Pope Valley Ropers & Riders and worked at Pina Vineyard Management.

A summer job at Pina Vineyard Management shaped Jesse’s interest in agriculture as a career. “By removing myself from my comfort zone and placing myself in a new environment, I learned a great deal. Through this job I saw how much further going to college can propel someone in life,” he wrote in the scholarship application essay. He also wrote that “following a passion can be one of the most fulfilling and important actions a person can take in the course of their lifetime.”

Viticulture teacher Sarah Herdell explained that “Stefhany Rios was a dedicated and active member of the SHHS Ag Program & FFA. She was involved in the Ag Leadership class, served as a Chapter Officer, and participated in market hog and market steer livestock projects, the pumpkin patch, the wine making project, Agriscience Fair, and did an internship with Usibelli Vineyards. She was part of the CA State Champion Vine Pruning and Vine Judging Teams in 2019.” Stefhany will be attending UC Davis and majoring in Agricultural and Environmental Education.

Stefhany Rios

“We are so grateful to Appellation St. Helena for providing these scholarships,” said Terri Linder, school counselor. “As a school based in the heart of a grape growing region, it shows the commitment of the local wine industry in motivating our students to start careers in this field.”

Any senior planning to study viticulture/enology or agriculture sciences may apply for this scholarship. Seniors and their parents complete a Local Scholarship Application which is due in October. This application is provided for numerous awards programs with a wide array of criteria. The committee, consisting of St. Helena High School teachers, counselors, staff members, and administration, reviews the scholarship criteria and chooses the students they believe best represent the mission of the scholarship.



St. Helena has the distinction of being the birthplace of Napa Valley’s commercial wine industry. The St. Helena American Viticultural Area, or appellation, was officially approved in 1995. In 2004, the vintners who had worked together to get the AVA approved established a group to promote the growing region, today called Appellation St. Helena. The group focuses on promoting the quality of grapes grown and wines produced in the St. Helena AVA.

Appellation St. Helena is comprised of roughly 12,000 acres, of which approximately 6,800 are planted to grapes, more than any other AVA in the Napa Valley. More than 400 different vineyards are located within the appellation. The boundaries form an hourglass shape, and the middle section represents the narrowest width in the Napa Valley, where the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges nearly meet. The AVA is a mosaic of alluvial fans and 21 different soil types. The soils here are created from centuries of erosion of run-off from mountain hillsides and the Napa River and its ancient tributaries.

While many types of grapes excel in St. Helena, the most frequently cultivated are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Board members are Lesley Keffer Russell, President; Seth Goldfarb, Secretary; Claire Hobday, CFO and at large members Katie Simpson, Shannon Salvestrin, Torey Battuello, Myriah Mutrux, Jack Pagendarm, Eric Risch, George Watson, Patrick Egan and Dave Yewell.


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