Ever since Junipero Serra, the “Father of California Wine”, planted wine grapes at the Catholic missions, Hispanic history and culture has been deeply woven into the California wine industry.
Today’s generation of Hispanic winery owners and winemakers continue to build on the proud tradition. Overcoming long odds, back breaking labor and discrimination are all common themes in the founding stories of many Hispanic wineries. This makes their contribution to the growth and success of the California wine industry even more amazing and serves as an inspiration to future generations of wine-makers.
These Hispanic owned wineries have also introduced elements of their varied cultures into the wines. This diversity of wine styles has helped to bolster the profile of California wines around the globe. This article celebrates some of the greatest Hispanic-owned and run wineries in California. Make sure to include some of these wineries on your next wine country tour!
The Valdez Family Winery was started by Ulises Valdez. Ulises's tale is one of hard work and persistence. He worked his way up from humble beginnings. Ulises arrived in the US as an underage migrant worker. You can imagine how much effort and intelligence he must have to work his way up to a respected winery owner! The first step was launching a vineyard management company after gaining American citizenship. The company flourished and he worked with many top end vineyards and wineries. Ulises now manages more than 1,000 acres of land
Ulises had another vision. He wanted to own to make his own wine. First, he produced wine under his own label in 2004. Then he opened his own winery in 2010. Now he has a tasting room you can visit in Healdsburg, Sonoma County.
His famous “Silver Eagle” Chardonnay found its way to a state dinner at the White House in the year 2010 and was served to Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
The Ceja family arrived in Napa in the year 1967 as braceros but soon began producing some of the best and finest wines in Carneros. Ceja Vineyards celebrates the tale of an American success story, the struggles of an immigrant family and the achievements of individuals who stuck to their goals and worked tirelessly to achieve them. The family’s rich Hispanic heritage flows through their slice of paradise, a place where guests are always welcomed with open arms.
Ceja has a tasting room in the Carneros area of Napa. You can visit the tasting room on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 am - 5 pm. You will get to taste 5 over their premium wines and the tasting costs $20 per person.
Reynaldo Robledo Sr. spent 30 years of his life learning everything he
could about grapes and he eventually began managing hundreds of acres of vineyards. He started his vineyard management company in the year 1996 and by the late 90s, the Robledo family-owned vineyards in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties. Robledo Family Winery produces award-winning wines, including chardonnay, merlot, sauvignon blanc, syrah, and port.
Fausta Franco-Guerrero spent her entire childhood among grapevines and formed a bond that lasted for decades. Owning a vineyard was her “American Dream” and she managed to make it come true in the year 2005 when she purchased the family’s first piece of land. Fausta Family Vineyards produces 1000 to 1500 cases of wine every year and is most famous for its 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2015, a decision was made to re-brand the winery to Fathia (victorious) to celebrate the success achieved after so much hard work.
Mis Sueno Winery sounds incredibly romantic, and a trip to the vineyard makes you realize that it has every right to keep a name which loosely translates to “my dream”. The winery is owned by Rolando Herrara, who migrated to the US as a young boy and survived by doing odd jobs at wineries. He got his first break from Warren Winarski who hired him as a harvester at the age of 17. Ronaldo spent the next 20 years working for others before managing to start off his own winery. He began his journey with a mere 200 cases of Chardonnay, but now produces over 5000 cases of wine each year.
Quintessa Vineyards and Winery is located in Napa Valley and owned by Augustin and Valeria Huneeus. Agustin dedicated his entire life to winemaking and left Chile in the early 1970s despite transforming a small wine company into one of the largest produces in the country. He spent some time facilitating winemaking operations in the US and came to own a world-class winemaking facility in 1999. His wines have now won several awards and he also has wineries in Alexander Valley and Chile.
Madrigal Winery is owned by Chris Madrigal, whose family has a history that is similar to many Mexican immigrant families. His grandfather came from Mexico as a farmhand looking for work and his father spent most of his life working in wineries and vineyards. After decades of work, he managed to establish his own vineyard management company and transformed it into one of the most respected organizations in Napa. The father and son duo dreamed of having a label under the family name and managed to make this dream come true in the year 1993 when the family-owned winery produced its first vintage.
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