Randy Zavala, often simply called “Z”, left this world Thursday evening, September 19th, at Saint Helena Hospital, surrounded by his family and close friends.
He was born January 24th, 1956 in Stockton, Ca. to Ynes and Nellie Zavala. He graduated in 1974 from East Union High School, Manteca, Ca. Randy loved music, and played the lead trumpet in the high school jazz band, and baritone in the marching band. He was also particularly proud of his 1968 Chevy long bed truck that he’d rebuilt, and perhaps more than once got in trouble for doing burnouts in the school parking lot with it.
In June 1981 he completed his journeyman certification from Napa County Apprenticeship Program as a heavy equipment mechanic. This certification opened a door to a profession that became a lifelong passion, where he strove for excellence while always sharing his knowledge with others. He went from working at Basalt Rock Company to Robert Mondavi Winery in June 1987, and then to Opus One Winery in January 2005 until his retirement in February 2019.
Randy never faltered in the vineyards, meeting challenge after challenge while supporting those around him with his experience and genuine love for the work. He worked expertly with top-of-the-line tractors and implements from all over the world, and created long-lasting relationships with the producers; Bobard, Collard, and Boisselet. Were another vintner to come with questions regarding the newer narrowly planted vineyards and the specialized equipment needed to manage them, Randy was the mechanic they would contact. His wife eventually nicknamed him the “Engine Whisperer”.
Randy was larger than life; something recognized by all who came into contact with him. To quote his dear friend Alan, “He was an inspiration, a man who gave well beyond his means, a man filled with love and eager to share it. Even so, he was often misunderstood by those who may have been intimidated by his physique, façade and/or his high standards and his insistence that all around him achieve them. Sunglasses; bandana and baseball cap over a long black thick braid; solid chin, stern visage; overalls, work boots; immense shoulders, a body of steel (products of hours in the gym daily); deep, serious, unsmiling voice.” While strangers may have even been alarmed at first (a reaction Randy often found highly entertaining), it never took long to see past those dark glasses and catch the twinkle in his deep brown eyes, or the Cheshire cat grin that played constantly at the corners of his mouth. A committed prankster, his chuckle would start low, then erupt into laughter that shook his shoulders. He was loved for this, and much, much more.
Randy was predeceased by his beloved father Ynes Zavala, who was also taken much too early.
He is survived by his mother Nellie Zavala; his wife Josanna Borelli-Zavala; his daughters Marianna and Marcelina Zavala; his brothers Ed Zavala (Jane); Mark Zavala (Kim); Ynes Zavala (Stacey); his older half-brother Greg Zavala (Mary); former wife Carolyn Craig (Jan); and many more aunts, uncles, first cousins, nieces, and nephews.
There is a phrase of how some people are capable of leaving footprints on hearts. Forget that! Randy left boot prints, overall grease, and funky loud Tower of Power tunes on our hearts!
There will be a celebration of his life November 1st at 12 PM at the Randy Zavala Vineyard Equipment Shop, 1144 Oakville Crossroad, Oakville, Ca. All who loved him are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, his family asks that you please donate to a cancer treatment facility or research organization of your choice.