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Founder Story

I grew up in Saint Helena, raised by two very hardworking Mexican immigrants, and with a strong love for Napa Valley. Despite never having the opportunity themselves, my parents embraced the idea of college and supported my desire to pursue a higher education. 

 

During high school an event happened in my life that shaped part of my current venture, Cyunity – building with intent. This event really opened up my eyes about the importance of mental health. If perhaps this person would have had someone to talk to, to share their feelings, had a sense of belonging, education or sense of community in one way, shape or form - perhaps it could have been avoided. Observing our current world, social media has shaped our lives and has also brought upon more materialism and separation in a way. 

 

Cyunity comes from the words Cyber and Unity and it is just that what I hope to see transform for our world and community now and into the future. Cyunity will be a place where anyone can jump into a conversation about topics they are passionate about, weather that’s wine or connecting with counselors and a community willing to share information or listen to what you have to say. 

 

Voice your heart is our motto and through this platform we hope to create a space of community, togetherness, education, opportunity, diversity and information around topics that are relevant to societies every day life. 

 

 As a first-generation college student, I was presented with many unique challenges, but this fact also gave me great ambition to achieve something that to others seemed intangible—a degree in viticulture and enology and possibly have the opportunity to create something that would connect my home, passions, beliefs and goals together. 

 

Upon graduating from high school, I enrolled at Napa Valley College in the fall of 2010 and immediately began holding down various part-time jobs. It was a lot to juggle, and at times, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it, but I always focused on my short-term goal of obtaining my degree. Despite the workload, I knew that attending Napa Valley College was not only providing me with a great education, but also opening doors to opportunities that otherwise would not have been available.

While at Napa Valley College, I started considering plans for attending UC Davis, but did not know how I was going to obtain my bachelor’s degree while worrying about the massive expenses that usually come along with this type of experience. It was at this time that I was introduced to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, Baldini Family, deLeuze Family, Trefethen Family and other community scholarships and became immediately interested in applying.

After a few months, I was informed that I had been selected as the recipient of a few scholarships. I felt a huge rush of happiness knowing the sense of relief that it would bring to my whole family. Each scholarship was very unique and special in its own way. I love that the Napa Valley Grape Growers are an organization that help preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. The NVGG do an amazing job to support our local community of grape growers and also assist with educating and providing our farmworkers with resources to help them prosper. I remember a shovel being part of the Baldini Family scholarship, this was a special shovel that had been one of the first shovels to help tend the vineyard at Baldini. When I received the shovel I was told “Just keep digging” and this has stuck with me. The deLeuze family scholarship come from the winery ZD, which stands for two things. Zepponi and deLeuze are the last names of two aerospace engineers and founders of ZD. It also stands for Zero Defects. Being the recipient of these scholarships have helped create resiliency for Cyunity. 

 

After Napa Valley College, I successfully transferred to UC Davis and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Viticulture & Enology with a minor in Chemistry. My passion for wine and the grapegrowing industry has continued to expand, as I gain more and more knowledge from the people around me.

Being awarded these scholarships made me realize the impact our community can have on students who hope to create something out of themselves. This translates to having goals for Cyunity to be able to be a platform for our community of students, farmworkers, organizations, groups etc., to share their voice and be heard. Access to information and education is key to creating a more united world, hence we see plans for Cyunity to be a huge resource for our student and farmworker community to communicate, discover, network, share and consume information about resources, mentorships, scholarships, jobs etc., to be able to grow their skills and create the future they see for themselves. 

 

Cyunity is starting out as a voice only platform for a reason. Peoples voices are powerful and they are meant to be heard. We aim to incorporate our daily lives onto a platform where you can go and discover your new favorite place to visit or support, and to also go onto this platform and get the information you seek or the fulfillment you crave and need. 

 

The power of this communication is as strong as humanity - together and united we can make great things happen to create a sustainable, healthy and united planet. Through education, collaboration and togetherness, especially beyond 2020 it is more important than ever to come together as a society. Through Cyunity and the vision we have of creating a new type of experience for our daily lives we will be able to change our earth for the better.

 

My longtime life goal is to make a contribution to my community and the wine industry. Ultimately I plan to start my own winery and become a leading community member. Passionate about winemaking, I see the barrier of entry to the wine industry become more and more challenging. 

 

Cyunity is meant to be a tool, a resource, a place, a community. We aim to help world class wineries and businesses of the future leverage digital and virtual communications to engage more with customers, have more visitors, and have a loyal consumer base. Our Cyunity platform brings wine enthusiasts, winery owners, people passionate about woman rights, colored people, the LBGT community etc., together so they can have conversations, virtual tasting sessions, education, wine offers etc., so wineries and businesses can create a community of loyal consumers and be a part of the reality of the human daily life.

I do not wish to change anything about the Napa Valley, I and will fight to preserve it, except the experience of how we interact and communicate with the community and region must evolve. 

 

I like to think of Cyunity like a Wine Symposium, where people go network, learn, discover and have fun. Cyunity will be just that for high potential customers, people and businesses. Some refer to the Napa Valley as Disney Land for adults. Disney land has a designated app that helps people navigate their way through the park, Cyunity will be that app for Wine Country for locals and visitors in the area and being able to take the experience back home with them and keep the engagement going. 

 

During unprecedented times and ever changing landscapes I believe it is time for a better change. Not only starting with our community but with our world. 2021 comes with great excitement for an elevated experience and unity world wide. I am big on education and communication and realize I have a huge amount to learn about winemaking and business and about all things life. I am sure that the Napa Valley is my happy place, an art, a world destination and its able to lift my spirits. I am confident that I am a creator, innovator and want the best for my community and enjoy the labor and passion I put in to my work more than receiving the fruits it bears. I am positive that I am meant to unleash myself through this outlet and firstly for my family and community. I’ve always been able to write more deeply than I am able to speak so why hold back that quality? Secondly, so that I may reach you. Whether you arrived here out of curiously or with intent, I hope you find something educational, intriguing or maybe just plain fun. I love the Napa Valley and everything wine and plan to continue to preserve our home and use the power of technology to benefit all, with our community and unity at its core.

Cheers, 

 

Armando Hurtado 

Cyunity, Founder 

 

 

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