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French Intern Jonas

We have a longstanding intern program that began in 1985 when a friend of a friend asked if we would host a French enology student. A few years earlier, Sarah and I were interns in Burgundy and realized how impactful an internship could be, so it was easy for us to say “Yes!” Fast forward to 2023 and we welcomed our 38th intern…Jonas Armagnacq to our winery and our home.
Jonas at Hafner HarvestJonas, or Jo-Jo as we call him, comes from Toulouse; his family is originally from the Basque country, St. Jean de Luz specifically. We knew that he was a perfect fit for our family when he arrived carrying hams from St. Jean de Luz and foie gras made by his mother. 

Jonas arrived on the 4th of July, just in time for bottling which requires long days and hard, repetitive work. Always positive and appreciative even after a day on the bottling line, he would say “Ah, this is so beautiful! I have the best internship!” Sarah and I enjoy hors d’oeuvres on the terrace and Jonas has easily adopted our routine. He (like other interns before him) has become an excellent pizza chef. We have a woodfired oven… what young man doesn’t enjoy playing with fire. When we asked what he would like to have for his birthday dinner, he said “Pizza! But only if I can cook it.”

Jonas has a nice group of friends from Toulouse who are interning at other wineries in the area. Some weekends they will go off and discover all the California has to offer – Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes, CAL football games and more. 
Jonas at Tahoe
Jonas at Beach

Every intern works in the cellar from bottling through the Chardonnay Harvest. He becomes part of the HV team, assisting Ricardo throughout the day and bringing a youthful humor to our work. For Sarah and me, hosting in intern in our home brings a liveliness and enthusiasm as well as two days per week to speak only French (Fridays and Saturdays).

After bottling finished, we went to Donner Lake for a long weekend. Hiking in the Sierras is one of my passions; fishing in small streams is another. Jonas was excited for both. He had never fly fished before…he was like a kid in a candy store. Each morning he asked where we were fishing. Our best day was on Saturday when we hiked towards Mt. Lola along Cold Stream. The wildflowers were amazing and the fish, bountiful. Jonas proposed that we each had to catch one fish before we could head home. Each fish that Jonas caught, he took a photo and sent it to a friend who would identify it. Most of the fish we caught that weekend were brown trout, but on the last day Jo-Jo did catch 2 rainbows!

We introduced Jonas to mountain snow cones (a family favorite) while on a hike, and we had fun riding electric bikes from Truckee to Sunnyside at Lake Tahoe.
Jonas Donner LakeJonas also turned 21 while he was here, so of course we had to take him to our favorite local bar, the Geyserville Gun Club. 
Jonas 21stHosting a young Frenchman is always enjoyable, especially around mealtimes and Jonas is no exception. He is in charge of setting the table, selecting the cheeses and ensuring that the aioli (his favorite) is on the table. One of my specialties is “Parkies”…essentially a toasted cheese sandwich with a secret ingredient. All of our interns have enjoyed Parkies on a daily basis. Jonas has his own specialty which we have named “Jo-Jo”–it is a piece of toasted bread smothered with aioli, a slice of prosciutto (or two) and carefully placed cornichons on top. We recommend trying it.

When we began our internship program, we were close in age to our interns. Now, the interns are 40+ years younger…I notice that age difference when we’re cycling (especially going uphill) and when we’re talking about movies. James Bond is a favorite of ours; in fact, we have them all. Jonas said that there was only one James Bond actor, Daniel Craig because he was the only one that Jonas knew. And hence the challenge began…we are watching all of the James Bond movies in order beginning with Dr. No and rating them each. We’ll let you know our result. What’s your favorite Bond movie?!
JonasWe will be sad when Jonas returns to France in October. He has become an integral part of our family. We will miss his smile, his quick wit, his kind nature and willingness to help at the winery and at home, but we know that we will see him again both here and in France. Like all of our interns, he will always have a room in our home and a place in our hearts.