LIFE STORY: Jocelyn Soto


Incentive c. n. Something that encourages a person to do something.

Environment c. n. The conditions that you live or work in and the way they influence how you feel or how effectively you can work.

Casablanca Valley (Chile), April 25th. Her first contact with the vines dates back to an end-of-year holiday I remember that I worked and I had to pluck the leaves. I was with my cousin and my sister… And it was amazing when we got paid.”  She enjoyed it. The work was easy, it felt like a game. They rushed to the pharmacy with their first pay check and bought toiletries: blush, creams and cologne.

I would have liked to keep on studying but I couldn’t afford it… so… off to work.” She completed secondary school at 18. At first, she worked on a seasonal basis. She dreamt of owning a house. She got lucky as she started working at Viñedos Emiliana for a season and quickly ended up with a permanent contract.

In la Vinilla, where she lives, this is how you survive: agriculture and vineyards. Hard labour.

During Winter, the worst thing is the cold, and I struggle with it.” She leaves really early in the morning, going through the mist, as if emerging from a fog. The vine branches are cold. The branches where the cane is attached are supported. Everything’s frozen. Everything is white. When the sun comes out, dewdrops start falling on their numb hands. It burns and it’s the coldest moment of the day. After that, another day begins: I get home… I start by hugging my son and then I head to the shower… And then it all starts: cooking lunch, preparing my boy’s backpack, asking him if there’s anything he needs…”.

In summer, it’s the heat. The valley feels like an oven. Under the sun, pruning and fixing the vines and protecting the grapes from the scorching sun.

In autumn, after harvest the buckets weigh 10 kilos. Cutting quickly and filling the buckets. Carrying them to the end of the row. You need to cut fast and run between the rows of vines. When there are no more grapes, the work is done.

Her father and his friends worked this way and so does her husband.

She’s 36 now and she’s had a permanent at Viñedos Emiliana for 10 years. Today, she isn’t worried about her job. She was able to buy a house but to do so required many harvests, lots of pruning and tying up vines. 

One day, someone sent her a photo of Emiliana wine from the US. I harvested that bottle… I wear the shirt for Emiliana”. Both the conditions and the Premium[1] help. This is why, at home, with her husband Jaime, they have good things to say about work. This is rare.

Every year, her 8-year-old son Danilo gets pharyngitis. It was difficult with no access to good health insurance. With the premium he finally got one. Now, she can rest assured.

Her son says he wants to be like her, he sees her happy about her job thanks to the working conditions and the positive work environment: When we work in groups… like we always do… they say “come on girl, come with us”, they don’t leave me behind (…) During harvest, they take the buckets out, I cut them… we share the workload evenly”. There is no competition among colleagues, overtime is paid, they try to hire their staff permanently and give them work that isn’t seasonal.

However, she doesn’t want Danilo to work as an operator or harvester “Something linked to the fields… but not what I do, something higher up… because he likes the fields and I can’t take him away from that.” She hopes he’ll get a study grant thanks to the premium, like the one of her colleague’s daughters got. This way he’d have the opportunity to work as an agricultural technician.


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