The younger generation and authentic experiences

Recently we poured at Silicon Valley Latino’s event, 40 under 40 Latinos2Watch.  It was awesome to see so many young Latinos making waves in their fields; art, music, business, etc.  It got us Generation Xers thinking about the Millennials (Generation Y) and what they may be looking for.

According to Bloomberg, when it comes to wine and other things, Millennials are looking for authentic experiences.  This is perfectly understandable for young adults who have been born in a digital age.  Where we once sent Christmas and Birthday cards, we now send E-cards.  Where we announced the birth of our children with a cute little card and picture, we now announce by posting on facebook.  Where we used to send out invitations either by phone call or card, we now text message, email, or send an Evite.  It’s no wonder that the younger generation wants something REAL and AUTHENTIC.

Wine is more than a product.  It is actually a real and authentic experience, especially when talking about wine made from small producers, captured in a bottle.  Wine is subject to Mother Nature.  Each vintage is a snapshot of time.  It’s not something we look at on facebook or receive an email about, but something we can actually taste in a bottle.  If it was a hot, low water year, the wine will be big, tannic, and higher in alcohol.  If it was a cooler year, the wine will be softer and lower in alcohol.  If there was a big fire nearby, you may literally taste smoke in the wine.

Leo_Martinez-1

Not only can an authentic experience be found in a bottle of wine, but it can be found by visiting the winemaker or owner of a small brand.  Take Leo Martinez for example.  At 39 he is the head winemaker for Benessere Winery in Napa and for his own brand, Terra Caliente.   When you visit Benessere you can taste wine grown right out their front door.  If Leo has time he might take you on a tour where he’ll talk about the vintage (the year), the barrels he selected and why, and perhaps he’ll even give you a barrel tasting.  His excitement and enthusiasm for what he is doing will be contagious.  This is not something you will be able to experience on facebook, email, or twitter.  It something authentic that you can experience only by going to the winery and tasting the wine and meeting the winemaker.

We recently hosted a group of bankers from Korea.   They were used to a tight, rushed, schedule.  Then they came to Napa.  There’s no such thing in the wine country as a rushed experience.   You can’t plan everything to the tee with wine.  We are controlled by nature, not science.  No amount of technology can make it rain, stop the sun from shining, or slow down or rush grapes from ripening.  Perhaps being conditioned and trained by Mother Nature has forced those of us in the wine industry to take our time, smell some roses, drink a glass or two, and put down our cell phones!  We would be happy to share these authentic experiences with Generation Y… just send us a text, email, or message us on Facebook!

And God Said, “Let there be Wine”

Walking through a Latin grocery store the other day we saw aisles and aisles of beans.  Latin stores always have beans, but this time there was every bean imaginable due to Lent starting on February 13.  Latinos, who are meat based, get creative during this time with beans and fish.  Some people will practice Lent every day, some only on Fridays.  Some have fish every day, some only on Fridays.  There are many Lent traditions.  Whatever your chosen tradition, Lent still means that a carnivore society will have to pretend lo be herbivores  Here’s the good news, wine is vegetarian.  We have a few wines that we think will make this Lent season more palatable.

food3-LoRez

Ceja Rose`:  This wine is going to pair well with everything, but we     added it specifically for those of you who enjoy fish.   This rose` is dry, so the acidity will play well with the fish. However, it also has a little barrel age to it which gives it a nice round mouth feel, meaning it’s great with ceviche or with a delicious grilled salmon.  Because it’s light, it will do okay with salsas as long as they aren’t too hot.

 

 

 

fish-LoRez

Cesar Toxqui Viogner: At the beginning of the year we did a vegan experiment for 3 weeks.  Three weeks with no meat (not even fish or eggs) was a long time for us.  We missed meat.  We found some in this viogner.  This viogner, to me, has a distinctive umami finish.  Umami is a taste that is meaty, sort of like soy sauce.  It’s a savory sensation on the palate that I have an affinity for and more people seem to be talking about it.  If you are missing meat, crack open some of this viogner.  It will go lovely with anything made with cheese, roasted vegetables, bean stews, and roasted fish (but not ceviche)

winebttleJ. Wilkes Pinot Noir: This pinot will go great with vegetarian empanadas, especially the traditional kind that include cinnamon and raisins.  It will also lend itself well to lentils.  We don’t suggest this with salmon, although people always think of pinot and salmon, because this pinot has a lot of spicy notes such as cardamom and cinnamon.  However, if you create a lent dish other than empanadas that includes raisins and olives, this is the wine for that dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aurora Vinedos Petite Sirah. Sometimes you just need steak.  Petite Sirah is the steak of wine . It’s big and meaty.  It’s warm and comforting.  Sometimes, when we want a steak, we just have a glass of petite sirah instead.  The perfect Lent pairing for this wine is cotija cheese and olives.  The saltiness of the cheese and olives will tame the tanins leaving with you something that will give the meat eater in you some satisfaction during this season of fasting.

wine label

The Grape Journey, from Vineyard to Wine Glass.

Vino 101

 

The Grape Journey, from Vineyard to Wine Glass.

 

Last month we talked about knowing what is in your wine glass.  Now we’ll talk about how wine is made.

 

Grapes will turn into wine all by themselves if left alone.   The natural yeasts that live in the vineyard will automatically start converting the sugars into alcohol.  If you’ve ever made your own apple juice you will know that within a couple of days that juice will begin to ferment and turn into cider.  Wine is a natural process.  But there are some things a winemaker does along the way that helps that natural process go from making a by-product of nature to something really delicious.

 

imgres

 

GROW THE GRAPES:  90% of winemaking is done in the vineyard.  If you have bad grapes, you won’t have good wine, no matter how talented a winemaker the winery employs.  Good grapes are the result of good vineyard practices (i.e. hand pruned, hand picked, low yields on the vines, etc.) and the right growing site.  Grape Vines are basically a weed..they’ll grow anywhere.  Cabernet could grow in Hawaii…but it would taste bad.   Therefore it’s important to plant the right grapes in the right soil with the right climate.  This is often referred to as terroir. 

 

Harvesting and Crushing:  Once the grapes are ripe, they are harvested.  Harvest is when the winemaker gets involved with the grape growing because they are the ones who choose when to pick the grapes.  The winemaker makes this decision by measuring the grapes brix (brix is the percentage of the grape that is sugar.  So if a grape is at 25 brix then that grape is 25% sugar).   They look at the seeds in the grape..if they are green the grape is not ripe.  They consider the weather.  Is it going to rain?  If so, how badly?  And last, but not least, they taste the grape.  If the grape tastes good, if it has enough brix, and if it is fully ripened, then the winemaker tells the vineyard manager its’ time to harvest.

 

When the grapes are harvested the grapes are crushed.  A big mass produced winery does everything mechanically.  The grapes are thrown into crusher/destemmer.  They say grapes, but actually, all the bugs, rotten fruit, mice, lizards, and other flora and fauna that are in the vineyard will go in that crusher/destemmer as well.  The juice will go into large stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The wine will “age” there too, with oak chips thrown in for flavoring.  This is the wine that is most often found on your super market shelf.

 

However, when it’s a small winery, the process is very different.  The grapes are first hand picked.  The winemaker or vineyard owner is usually there to do a preliminary sort to pick out the lizards, mice, and rotten fruit.  Then the grapes are taken to the crush pad where they are thrown onto a conveyor belt.  This is where the grapes as whole clusters can be sorted.  Next the grapes go through a destemmer that gently removes the grapes from the stem.  Those individual grapes are put on yet another conveyor belt where they are sorted again.  The grapes are then put in the stainless steel tanks for fermentation.  The weight of the grapes will crush themselves.

 

Once fermentation has taken place (fermentation is the process of converting sugar into alcohol) the wine will either go into barrels are tanks to be aged.

 

Usually, red wine goes into barrels.  Winemakers often refer to barrels as their “spice rack.”  Barrels can give flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, spice, etc according to where they were grown, how tight the grain of the wood, and how the inside of the barrel is toasted.

 

The winemaker decides how long the wine should age.  They also decide how to blend the wine and with what.  Perhaps a cabernet needs better aromatics, if this is the case they might ad a little bit of Cabernet Franc.

 

Once the wine is aged and blended, it goes into a bottle where if it’s a red wine it is usually aged an additional year.

 

CesarToxquiphoto

 

All these decisions translate directly into what is in your glass and whether or not you’ll like it.  You might not like the loud spicy notes that American Oak gives wine.  Or you may love a chardonnay that smells like crème brulee.   Maybe you love the crisp sharp lines that stainless steal aging gives Sauvignon Blanc.  How the wine is made has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll like the wine.  Take the time to ask about the winemaking process when visiting wineries, you’ll not only increase your wine knowledge, but you’ll begin to figure out what you like and why.

 

For any additional questions please feel free to respond to this post or email us directly at info@vinolatinowineclub.com

 

 

Vino 101: Wine Lingo

On one of our Vino Latino Tours we had some guests that had a long discussion about tequila amongst themselves.  They used terms like “Anejo” and “reposado” and “Mezcal.”  This meant nothing to me since I don’t drink tequila.  In the same way, there are terms and lingo attached to wine that if you don’t know or understand, you might  not know what is in your glass.

 

02 three-different-wines

WINE IS NOT COLOR BLIND: The first thing to learn about is the color of wine.  There is red wine, white wine, and rose`.  The only thing that makes wine red, is contact with red grape skins.  This is because the flesh of all grapes (except for a few varietals such as alacante bouschet) is clear or “white.”  Most “white” wines come from grapes with greenish or yellow skins.  However, many sparkling wines that are white are made from pinot noir, which is a red grape.  This is done by immediately removing the juice from the skin.  A rose` or pink wine is a wine that has had a little bit of contact with the red skins.  A really deep red wine has probably been in contact with the skins for weeks whereas a rose` has had contact with the skins for a few hours.

 

NAME THAT GRAPE! On a label you’ll often see the name of the grape variety such as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, etc.  This is simply the type of grape the wine is made from.  It’s very similar to apples.  When you go to a grocery store there are many types of varieties of apples.  You have a granny smith, red delicious, fugi, gala, etc.  They all taste like apples, but each has a special character that makes it unique to that varietal.  Granny Smith is often tart,  Fugi is sweet and firm.   More than likely when you go to the store you have a favorite type of apple you tend to buy.

imgres

This is exactly the same with wine grapes.  Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, zinfandel, etc are simply the names of different types of wine grapes.  They all taste like grapes but each has a different character.  The more you try wine the more you’ll start to learn what types of wine is your favorite

 

 

 

RESERVE? OLD VINE? Some terms you often see on a bottle are terms like “Reserve” or “Old Vine.”  These terms are integrity based, meaning there is no legal weight behind them.  A winery can put these terms on any bottle, and often the big producers do!  Yikes!  But the vintners we work with put the weight of their integrity behind their labels.   When they put “reserve” it’s usually their best barrels.  “Old Vine” usually refers to vines that are over 50 years old.  Voces Old Vine Zinfandel is made from vines that are 120 years old!  Solovino’s Resever Cabernet tastes much more elegant and refined than their regular cabernet.

 

At the end of the day, however, as my dad often said, “There are only two kinds of wine, the kind your like and the kind you don’t”  May you find the wine you like in your glass!

Vino 101: Step One: Drink the Wine by Becky Tyner Sandoval

 

 

The very first step to enjoying wine is to drink it.  Seems simple until you start seeing all the books with titles such as, “How to Drink Wine” or advertisements for wine tasting classes.  At Vino Latino we don’t think that such a big fuss should be made over something so simple, but we do want to share a few tips that might make your wine drinking experience more enjoyable

 CesarToxquiphoto

 

 

 

 

THE VESSEL:  I’m sure it sounds silly, but believe it or not, the glass matters.  I don’t care how great your wine is, if you drink it out of a Styrofoam cup or a mason jar, it’s not going to taste good.  Riedel, the wine glass makers, discovered that what makes the most difference is how the glass throws the wine on your palate.  But rather than make this more complicated than it already is, just follow this simple rule.  Always use a wine glass and avoid wine glasses that have a lip on the rim.  The thinner the rim the better.  This ensures a smooth transfer of wine from the glass to your mouth, avoiding “splashing” upon the bitter parts of your palate.

 

RELEASE THE BOUQUET:  Unless you understand why, the swirling may seem a bit pretentious. But truly, the swirl is almost as important as the glass, for it oxidizes the wine and releases the “bouquet” allowing you to smell all the wonderful nuances of the wine.   You smell much more than you taste, and the smell of wine is almost better than the taste!  If you don’t believe it do this experiment.  Put some wine in a glass.  Now smell it.  Now swirl the wine.  Now smell it.  BIG DIFFERENCE!

 

RINSE YOUR MOUTH, NOT YOUR GLASS:  We see it all the time, people rinse their glass when they change from white wine to red wine.   What you really need to rinse is your mouth.  When you first go from white to red, the red wine might taste really harsh.  So take that first sip and let it rest in your mouth for an extra second to get your palate ready for red wine.  Then take another sip. After the 3rd or 4th sip your palate should be accommodated to the red wine so that you can fully enjoy your red wine experience.

 

WINE IS BETTER WITH FRIENDS.  Wine is meant for sharing.  That’s why the food and wine pairing aspect is so popular, because both were meant to be shared with friends and family.  When you share a wine your are excited about, make sure you tell your friends why, so that they too can be excited.

 

Enjoy!

“New Wineries, New Traditions”

“New Wineries, New Traditions” by Becky Tyner Sandoval

The holidays are a time for traditions.  Some are old, some are new, and it all depends on what is happening in our lives.  The wineries we work with are family owned; yet many of them are fairly new.  Here are three Latino family owned wineries and how they have incorporated new traditions with old ones to embrace their wine careers.

 

Logo2

Gerardo Espinoza, vintner and winemaker for Vinedos Aurora in Lodi, and his family began experimenting with wine about 10 years ago.  As a hobby they would make wine from their vineyards every year.  That first Christmas, ten or so years ago, after their first harvest, they could hardly contain their excitement about their winemaking project. They were so excited that they took barrel samples and served them with their Christmas dinner and made projections about what the wine would be like in the future.  This has been their tradition ever since then.  However, this past year was a bit different, now that Gerardo makes wine professionally, he also brought along the finished project to share with his wine loving family.

 

Cottage-small

 

Jess Castillo of Castillo’s Hill Shire winery in Morgan Hill has always stayed true to his Mexican roots.  During Christmas he makes tamales.  Yes, HE makes them, his wife Rhoni Jo decided that while she certainly could lend a helping hand, the tamale making was up to him.  Now that they own their own winery they’ve decided to share this tradition with their wine club members.  Every year they make homemade tamales and serve them to their wine club members at their home.  Guests not only get to eat delicious food, but they also get to enjoy music from Jess’ wife and their two kids, Nate and Vivienne.

 

 

 

IMG_0022_3

While you are diving down Westside Road in Healdsburg you might notice a big gift.  The gift is the theme behind Gracianna.  The Amador family got in the wine making business when they caught their 15-year-old son, Trini IV, making wine.   This led to Trini IV working for several well-known wineries in Sonoma Country to more recently, his parents investing in his dream to create their family winery, Gracianna.  Mexican on Trini III’s dad’s side, Gracianna is the name of his Basque grandmother who led an adventurous life during WWI and taught them many lessons about love, family and gratitude.  The gift, that is their logo, is a reminder to everyone to remember what they are grateful for and to remember those things are the biggest and greatest gifts we could ever receive at Christmas time.

 

This Christmas, as you celebrate your holiday traditions, old and new, remember that those traditions along with respect are what make us successful Latinos.  The wines we feature are from real Latino families that have succeeded in this industry and in this wonderful opportunistic country.

From Bricks to Brix

The Story of Cesar Toxqui by Becky Tyner Sandoval

Life takes many surprising twists and turns.  Sometimes you start out on a life’s path, then tragedy hits, and not only does it take you off the path, but sometimes it can make you feel like giving up.  Cesar’s story is a story of life’s twists and turns and how a spirit that never gives up can lead to your dreams, even if you didn’t know you had them.

 

Cesar was born in a pueblo outside of Mexico City.  He is the fifth of nine children.  When he was just 11 years old he began a business with his brother making bricks.  They would take bricks to Mexico City every week.   Even at this very young age they were finding success.  Their lives and the lives of their family had a very bright future.   But sadly, life had a tragic turn when his brother and business partner became very sick.  The entire financial burden for his large family rested on Ceasar’s shoulders.

 

 

When Cesar was 15 his uncle, who lived in Ukiah, California, offered to let him come to the USA to live and work.  Cesar took the offer and moved to Ukiah, expecting that work would come easily. However, it did not come easily for a 15 year old boy.  After sometime, with no work, Cesar was ready to return to Mexico with a heavy weight on his shoulders of failing his family.  That’s when he met the son of Jesse Tidwell, who then owned Parson’s Creek Winery.  They needed help with the winery.  Not only did they hire Cesar, but they invited him to live with them as well.

 

One thing we have learned, here at Vino Latino, is that it is virtually impossible to work in the wine industry and not eventually fall in love with wine, and Cesar was no exception.  He went to Sonoma State to become an engineer, but Jesse Tidwell asked why he didn’t become a winemaker.  After finishing nearly all the required math for engineering, Cesar decided that he should indeed pursue winemaking.

 

One of his early jobs was as The Cellar Master at Brutocao Cellars, which is also a custom crush facility.  Watching all those small independent vintners develop their own wine labels inspired Cesar to start his own label.  This was the catalyst to him leaving Brutocao Cellars and eventually starting Cesar Toxqui Cellars.

 

Cesar’s winemaking style is staying as close to nature as possible, from using as many organically grown grapes as possible to using wild yeast for fermentation.  His respect for the terroir and nature’s expertise in making good grapes shows in his wine.  His wines are full bodied, approachable, fruit forward, food friendly, and really just very very good.  He has a label he named Immigrant to celebrate his American dream and the American dream of others.

Cesar makes chardonnay, viogner, zinfandel, a solara style blend, and pinot.  Pinot is his favorite because it’s not only a challenge to grow, but a challenge to make as well.

 

You can visit Cesar at his tasting room in Hopland which is in Mendocino County.  He’s personally at the tasting room every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Food & Wine Pairings- Latino Style

As Latinos it is safe to assume that some Latin American-inspired food will make its way to our holiday table.   In our last article we gave our recommendation for what we feel is the ultimate wine for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, this week we asked some of our Latino vintners what food and wine pairing suggestions they have to share.

Rios Wine Company, whose labels are Solovino and Mixto, had great suggestions for traditional foods.  For example, a Christmas Prime Rib would go great with their rich and robust Solovino Cabernet Sauvignon.  Vintner, Sheila Rios, suggests their Sauvignon Blanc would go great with the turkey and stuffing..we also think it would go great with ceviche. Last but not least, Solovino makes a slightly sweet Riesling, that would be wonderful with a first course such as will cheese, fruit, or just with great conversation (A sweeter late harvest wine or port would be better with dessert).

Sciandri Family Vineyards Latin roots span the Atlantic Ocean, mixing their Mexican and Italian heritages together.  Their holiday and party tables always boast homemade Italian and Mexican foods.  It’s probably the best place to get meatballs and ceviche all at once.

We asked Rebecca Sciandri Griffin how the Sciandri wines, which are big reds from their vineyard in the Coombsville area of Napa, how their wines pair with the holidays.  This is what she had to say, “Sciandri’s Coombsville Cuvée, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, is the perfect wine for a Thanksgiving meal. This wine was made to play nice with food. Our family blends Italian and Mexican traditions, so we needed a wine that would compliment a wide variety of flavors. So, whether you are cooking a traditional Turkey with all the fixings or making something sensational with earthy red chile adobo sauces, our super-supple blend with deep berry flavors, can cushion the most robust of seasonings.”  One thing Rebecca forgot to mention is how their big and earthy cab pairs well with a cold winter’s night and a fireplace!

One of the pioneers for Latinos in the wine industry, Gustavo Brambila, pointed out that his Barbera or 3rd Bottle White pair wonderfully with his wife’s tequila and lime marinated chicken fajitas. However, when it comes to winter, the Brambilas love stews and they have found that with their busy lives the slow cooker is their friend.  Mrs. Brambila makes a beef stew with tomato, red wine, and oregano which just begs for the 3rd Bottle Red, and her spicy pot roast with Serrano chiles, cilantro, and cumin begs for their beautiful Rutherford Cabernet.

Also, we can’t forget Lodi’s Pondl winery.  Partner, David Lujan, is actually quite passionate about pairing salsas with their wines.  While it can be tricky to pair anything spicy with wine what they have realized is that their light and crisp chardonnay pairs beautifully with guacamole.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful as we enter the holiday season.  If you have any specific food and wine pairing questions please let us know and we’ll put it out to our winery partners.  All of these wineries and wines can be found on the internet or via VinoLatinoWineClub.com. We hope you’ll add some Latin American flavor to your holidays while also making sure there are Latino made wines in your glass!

Last but not least, no holiday is complete without dessert.  Martinez & Martinez Winery out of Washington loves to pair their Selina Mechelle Orange Muscat Dessert Wine, which is a port style wine.  Knowing how busy the holidays could be, Monica Martinez, gave us this simple perfect pairing recipe:

It is a sweet treat as opposed to an opposite pairing but because the cookie is a little sour and the O.M. a little sweet, but not too sweet, it pairs very nice for an after dinner desert with port.  The recipe is:

I box vanilla wafers blended in the food processer

1/4 c. Orange juice concentrate

1c. Powdered sugar

1/4 c. melted butter

Combine all the ingredients and then form into balls.  Roll the balls in powdered sugar to make them look like a “snowball”.

Cheers!!

 

Photo Credits: Martinez & Martinez Winery, Gustavo Thrace Winery

 

 

Real Men Drink Pink

Written by Becky Tyner Sandoval

With the holidays fast approaching I am often asked which wine goes best with Thanksgiving food.  Most people consider pinot to be the universal food wine, but I beg to differ. Certain light-bodied pinots are indeed a universal food-friendly wine however pinots are vastly different in flavor and body depending on where it is grown and who makes it.  Therefore, we don’t recommend a generic “pinot” as the ultimate Thanksgiving wine.  Instead, we recommend rose. We realize most people pair rose with a swimming pool and a hot day, but I am confident, it will shine on your holiday table.

Rose’s are often misunderstood.  Most people see the pink wine and automatically assume it is sweet.  And while some of the best sellers at Vino Latino are indeed the sweet pink wine that so many Latino’s love, such as Reyes Rose and Marinez & Martinez Mae Mae Rose, this is not the wine I am suggesting to be served with Thanksgiving dinner (dessert or a cheese course would be okay however).  Rather I am talking about a dry rose.

Rose’s can come in a variety of colors, from a very light, almost peach color, to a bright pink.  The color is directly related to the amount of time the juice is left on the skins of red skinned grapes such as cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, syrah, etc.  These grapes have red skins, but clear juice.  Red wine gets all its color from the skins of grapes, not from the grape’s juice.  What wineries will often do is “bleed” off some of the juice so that their red wine will have more skin to juice contact which will result in deeper colors, flavors, and tannins.  They use the juice from the bleed to make rose.

Some people will pick grapes just for the rose.  This does not happen too often but if a winemaker says, “We pick for rose” you can assume they are quite serious about the rose.  Rose’s are usually tank fermented, however some wineries, such as Ceja, let their rose spend a little time in neutral oak in order to give the wine a rounder mouth feel.   Maldonado makes theirs on the crisper side.  Both have a deep ruby color, neither are sweet and both will go beautifully with your Thanksgiving table.  It will not only go great with Turkey, but will all the side dishes as well.  And because of the light nature of the wine, it can even go with foods that are a little spicy.

So next time you see a pink wine on the table, don’t assume it’s not a serious wine and definitely don’t assume it’s sweet.  They are often complex, tasty, and elegant with enough back bone to support even the manliest of men drinking it.

Cheers!

Vino Latino

 

 

 

Becky Tyner Sandoval Co Founder of www.VinoLatinoWineClub.com has spent most of her life in Napa, CA. She has worked in the wine industry for 15 years.

 

Credit: photos

 

Latinos doing Vino in the USA..where it began

Join Us on Facebook Join Us on Twitter

Written by Becky Tyner Sandoval

Latinos doing Vino in the USA..where it began

To understand the contribution and history of Latinos in the American wine industry, we have to go back to the great depression.  It was perhaps one of the most frightening times to be an American.  Unlike many stock market crashes that only seem to affect the stock holders and make no difference to the average joe, this depression made the rich poor and the poor even poorer.  These situations always bring out the best and the worst out of people and nations.  On one hand people learn to help one another out, they learn about mercy and kindness, but on the other they always look for a scapegoat.  During this time Mexicans became part of the scapegoat.  The USA began pressuring Mexicans to return to Mexico so that Americans could have the jobs previously performed by Mexicans.  This was fine for the Americans until WWII, when the vast majority of the labor force left the work force to join the military.  When this happened the USA was faced with a major labor shortage.

It was during this time that many women entered the work force for first time.  Women such as my grandmother went to work in the factories in Detroit.  And while the women did all they could to help out, there was still a major shortage of labor in agriculture.  The solution to this problem became known as the Los Braceros program.

In 1942 President Roosevelt met with Mexican President Camacho to hammer out a deal that would create a guest worker program.  The very first Braceros to come to the USA via Los Braceros went to work in the sugar beet fields near Stockton.

When the war was over the agriculture business insisted they still had a labor shortage.  (many Americans never returned home from WWII and those that did often had missing limbs and major injuries that prevented them from working) .  They persuaded the US government to keep the Los Braceros program in place until 1968.  During that time over 5 million Mexicans entered the USA via the Los Braceros program.  Many of them were able to gain legal residency and later citizenship because of this program, and this is how today we are enjoying some wonderful Latino made wine in the USA.

Some of the most well known Latino vintners can trace their roots to the Los Braceros program: Ceja, Robledo, and Encanto to name a few.   Their fathers and grandfathers came here to work the fields, and in the case of Ceja and Robledo, ended up owning many of them!

One of our favorite wines is the Los Braceros red blend created by Robledo.  It’s a Cab, Merlot ,and Syrah blend..a beautiful expression of how grapes that aren’t from the same place can still come together to make something approachable, delicious, and better, which in many ways, is the true result of the Los Braceros program!

Becky Tyner Sandoval Co Founder of www.VinoLatinoWineClub.com has spent most of her life in Napa, CA. She has worked in the wine industry for 15 years.

Credit: B&W photos from Wikipedia