Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest

Language teacher shares terminology to improve communication

by Jane Firstenfeld
Leonela V. Santiago, owner of Lingua Franca Academy, offers small group lessons in English and Spanish.
Santa Rosa, Calif.—With a large percentage of native Spanish speakers working in California vineyards, knowledge of specialized terms can ease on-site, day-to-day communication between management and vineyard labor.

Leonela V. Santiago owns Santa Rosa-based Lingua Franca Academy, which teaches Spanish and English to adults in small classes. “Lingua Franca” is, literally, a language adopted as a common language among speakers whose native languages are different—historically a mixture of Italian with French, Greek, Arabic and Spanish. Santiago adopted the name to symbolize her goal of “bridging languages.”

    25 Palabras Para La Cosecha

    Grapes: Uvas (ooh-vas)
    Harvest: Cosecha (ko-seh-cha)
    Varietal: Variedad (bar-ee-eh-dad)
    Cluster: Racimo (rah-see-moh)
    Ripe: Maduro (mah-doo-roh)
    Leaf: Hoja (oh-hah)
    Pick: Piscar (peace-kar)
    Rot: Podrido (poh-dree-do)
    Loading area: Zona de carga/descarga (soh-na de kar-gah/des-kar-gah)
    Scale: Báscula (BAS-coo-lah)
    Picking bins: Cajas or benes de piscar (kah-has or ben-es de peace-kar)
    Picking trays: Bandejas de piscar (ban-deh-has de peace-kar)
    Valley bins: Gondolas (gohn-doh-las)
    Ton: Tonelada (toe-neh-la-da)
    Full: Lleno (jeh-no)
    Empty: Vacío (bah-see-oh)
    Too much: Demasiado (de-ma-see-ah-do)
    Not enough: No suficiente (no sue-fee-see-en-teh)
    Weight: Peso (peh-so)
    To weigh: Pesar (peh-sar)
    To cut: Cortar (kor-tar)
    To load: Cargar (kar-gar)
    Forklift: Montacargas (mohn-tah-kar-gahs)
    To smash: Apachurrar (a-pah-choor-rar)
    Grape shears/scissors: Cizalla/Tijeras de uvas (see-sai-jah/tee-hair-ahs)
Just as those who know “menu Spanish” may have difficulty conversing about business en español, even English-speakers who are fluent in Spanish may encounter difficulties with the specialized language of the vineyard.

Lingua Franca has been working for two years with a major Sonoma County winery, which Santiago did not specify due to corporate restrictions. Her experiences there inspired her to create “25 Essential Spanish Words for Wine Harvest.”

“While you may not have time to learn Spanish with harvest right around the corner, becoming familiar with these 25 most essential harvest-related words can ease communication,” she said.

Phonetic pronunciation is much simpler in Spanish than English, and Santiago has included pronunciation for each term.

Practical learning
Lingua Franca’s classes are small—usually limited to six students— and designed for either native English-speakers (usually in management) or native Spanish-speakers. Santiago has observed that the Spanish-speaking vineyard workers are “extremely motivated” to learn English. Some attend daytime courses after working harvest nightshifts. Although the classes are not currently intermingled, “We recommend that students find partners they can work with” for interactive learning, Santiago said.

Focused on person-to-person communication, Lingua Franca classes do not require written course-work. “Verbs are a huge focus,” and students drill on conjugations. “We create lots of lists of all the words—not just harvest, but also winery processes,” Santiago said.

Posted on 08.07.2014 - 12:55:09 PST
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