These Hispanic family vineyards founders share immigrant roots and a strong Hispanic work ethic.
This article is part two of two-part series that examines the Hispanic winemaking industry. Part one looked at the industry's history.
Mexican and other Hispanic immigrant families have become important and respected members of the flourishing winemaking industry on the West Coast of the United States. The following are profiles of some of these hard-working families who earned success in the United States.
1. Robledo Family Winery
The year was 1968 and young Reynaldo Robledo Sr. was taught how to prune a grapevine. He spent the next 30 years learning everything he could about growing wine grapes. As his experience flourished so did his responsibility as a hired hand. Eventually he was managing hundreds of acres of vineyards and men.
In 1996 he started his own company, Robledo Vineyard Management. As he continued to learn, his family was busy buying properties. By the late 1990s they owned vineyards in Napa, Lake and Sonoma Counties, Calif.; they had accumulated 350 producing acres of vineyards.
At first they sold their grapes to other winemakers, but finally gave in to their yearning to produce their own wines. They formed their own vineyard, Robledo Family Vineyard, and now produce award-winning wines, including: Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Syrah, Tempranillo, Moscato, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, Pinot Grigio and Port.
2. Mis Sueño Winery
The name is romantic, and it should be, as it is Spanish for My Dream. Mis Sueño Winery owner Rolando Herrara was born in the Mexican state of Michochan. In 1975 his family immigrated to the United States. As a youth, he did odd jobs, some at wineries though he never worked in the fields or the winemaking facilities.
Rolando got his winemaking break from Warren Winarski, a famous winemaker and owner of Stags Leap winery, who hired the 17-year-old Rolando as a harvester. There was, however, a hitch. Rolando had to attend school in the mornings if he wanted the job.
He spent the next 20 years working for others including a 10-year stint at Stags Leap, where he ended his tenure as Cellar Master. Rolando then worked at other wineries until he became Director of Winemaking at Paul Hobbs Consulting.
While at Paul Hobbs, Rolando started Mis Sueño Winery as a hobby and only produced 200 cases of Chardonnay. He now produces more than 5,000 cases of wine each year, selling his products to folks in his wine club and other wine clubs, through his tasting room, online and to restaurants across the United States. In 2001 his wine was served at a White House state dinner in honor of then Mexican President Vicente Fox.
3. Madrigal Winery
Madrigal Wines owner Chris Madrigal has a family history is similar to that of many Mexican immigrant families. His grandfather came to the Napa Valley from Mexico looking to work as a farmhand. He wanted to improve the life of his family, which included 12 children. Jesus Madrigal, Chris dad, was one of those kids.
After working in the vineyards for many years, he established his own vineyard management company. As years passed, the company became one of Napas most respected vineyard management companies and Jesus recognized as one of the Hispanic leaders in the Napa Valley business community.
The father and son shared a dream to own a winery and produce wines under the family name. In 1993 the winery produced its first vintage and in 2008 Madrigal Winery completed building a $3 million dollar wine-producing facility and tasting room.