2019-02-01 / Wine Notes

Viva Vino!

Robert D. Richards, CSW

Last summer, when Mexico was still in the game — the World Cup, that is — nary a seat could be found at restaurants in downtown Napa, California. Cheers were heard around town when that country’s team beat out Germany to move forward in soccer’s quadrennial classic.

The elated response was not surprising given that 95 percent of Napa’s vineyard workers originally are from Mexico. Many of those workers are part of generations of winery hands who now call Napa and its surrounding environs home.

As generation after generation made their way in the wine industry, children and grandchildren saw great promise in the business and looked to move up in the industry. Some of those vineyard workers’ offspring studied oenology at nearby University of California-Davis, the nation’s leading school for aspiring winemakers and grape growers.

Today, Mexican-Americans own and operate several wineries in California’s Wine Country and, in 2010, formed the Mexican-American Vintners Association. MAVA raises money for scholarships and educational programming through partnerships and events, such as the annual Harvest Festival celebration, which showcases Latino wine, food and culture.

Wine is so much about food and culture that it only makes sense that these vintners want to spread the word about pairing wines and sharing heritage, particularly given the impact Mexican-Americans have had on the California wine industry for decades.

The organization looks to assist aspiring vintners in “Finding the American Dream through Wine,” as its website suggests. The results are a win for wine lovers. These wineries are producing some excellent wines and teaching all of us about Latino food and culture in the process.

Most of the wineries concentrate on small production and thus are not part of the mass national distribution that would land them in Pennsylvania state stores. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Pennsylvania now permits direct-to-consumer shipment of wine, which opens up the wine world in a whole new way. Here are just a few Latino-owned and operated wineries that make their product available through their websites. •SCM

Ceja Vineyards
Sauvignon Blanc
Sonoma Coast 2016

The cool breezes of the Sonoma Coast lend bright, crisp flavors to this wine that exhibits hints of citrus along with some tropical notes.

Voces Blau Vineyard
Merlot 2016

A big merlot that shows
rich berry notes and a
touch of oak.

Cesar Toxqui Cellars Petite Sirah Chavela Hills Mendocino 2015
This Petite Sirah comes from a dry-farmed vineyard in Mendocino and has collected numerous awards, including the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2018 Gold Medal.

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