In Napa, Mexican Americans have gone from migrant workers to vineyard owners. Here are 10 Latino-owned wineries to visit.
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In Napa County, around 95% of farmworkers are originally from Mexico. Yet, with so many Latinos working on the vineyard fields, why are they so underrepresented in the vineyard tasting rooms?
Thankfully, in the last few years, this has begun to change. Children and grandchildren of migrant workers who worked the vineyards have now begun opening vineyards and wine clubs of their own.
Many have pursued wine business degrees or studied viticulture at the nearby University of California, Davis.
Others have simply worked their way up from being the person picking the grapes, to the person owning them.
An article in the New York Times described how, for many Latino winemakers, after such a long history of laboring in vineyards, the change [owning] has “emotional resonance.”
These days, there are over fifteen Latino-owned vineyards just in the Napa area.
Mexican Americans have even created the Napa Sonoma Mexican-American Vintners Association to create greater connections within the industry. Even better, these winemakers are redefining “wine culture” to fit with Latino traditions. They throw harvest parties with Mexican folk dancers and mariachis, and offer wine pairings for Mexican dishes like pozole.
To help support Latino-owned vineyards and organizations, check out any of these below:
1. Robledo Winery
Reynaldo Robledo was the first former migrant vineyard worker in North America to own a winery. He came to the United States at age 16 from Michoacan Mexico in 1968. He lived in a migrant labor camp near Calistoga, pruning vines for as little as $1.10 an hour. Now, his entire family (including nine children) all work in the family business controlling 220 acres of vineyards in and around Napa, Sonoma, and Lake county, and managing their own vineyard management company. They produce 10,000 case of their own wine.
2. Ceja Vineyards
Amelia Moran Ceja came to Napa Valley from the Mexican state of Jalisco when she was only 12 years old. After spending much of her childhood picking merlot grapes in one of Robert Mondavi’s famous vineyards, she told her father that one day she’d own her own vineyard. Now she’s the first Mexican-American woman ever to be named president of a winery. With her family, she owns more than 110 acres and produced more than 8,000 cases a year.
Ceja has creatively found ways to pair her wines with Mexican, Peruvian, Cuban and even Asian cuisine and has shared her passion of food and wine through her vineyard’s YouTube channel. My favorite video on the site? Ceja preparing Mexican pozole, paired with one of her own red blends.