Supernova Foundation Hosts Wine Tasting Event, Raises Money for Survivors of Domestic Violence


When you think of philanthropic events in the Bay Area the places that usually come to mind are San Francisco or Palo Alto. And Morgan Hill? Not exactly. Yet, on a warm September afternoon people gathered in this town just south of San Jose to support the efforts of The Supernova Foundation. Organizers of the event had transformed a backyard of a small residence into a wine tasting room to raise funds for victims of domestic abuse. While guests attended to drink fine wine provided by Vino Latino USA, they were also there to give back to their community.

“It’s good to give back at any stage of your life and career,” says Adrian Espinosa who is one of the co-founders for The Supernova Foundation. When he is not working at a hospital or studying to become a nurse practitioner, you can find him planning or organizing events such as this one for his foundation.

Vino W Amigos 2Adrian started The Supernova Foundation almost seven years ago along with his sister, Erica, when he was about to turn thirty. He conceived the idea at the moment when he was trying to decide what to do for his birthday party. “It was a turning point for me,” Adrian says. According to Adrian, the passing of another calendar year made him reflect and think to himself, “I’m here, I’m grateful, and I’m surrounded by such supportive friends and family, so I am going to do something meaningful in my life and as a community.”

Instead of throwing himself a typical birthday party that December, Adrian had decided to use the month’s holiday spirit to organize his first charity event. He told his friends not to bring birthday gifts or bottles of alcohol; instead, they were instructed to bring toys for children staying at two local women’s shelters in Santa Clara County. Over a hundred people showed up with toys in hand. Two days before Christmas, these toys were delivered to the shelter and The Supernova Foundation was born.

Fast-forward seven years later to the wine tasting event in Morgan Hill. A group of well-dressed guests sit on white picnic table chairs and listen closely to the Vino Latino duo Ramon & Becky Sandoval speak about Cabernets and Moscatos. They nibble on Mexican wedding cookies as they drink from the Sandoval’s custom blend. The neighbors’ regional Mexican music can be heard in the background, providing a nice soundtrack to the wine tasting. This was a charity event that not only raised money for Supernova’s “Modesta’s Spirit and Courage Scholarship Fund” but that also brought different cultures together.

In addition to blending Mexican culture with philanthropic values, Supernova also brings together friends and family who have dedicated their time and energy to the foundation. The event, for instance, was hosted at the home of Natalia Galvan, a good friend of Adrian’s and a board member. Natalia proved instrumental in connecting Supernova with the women’s shelters in Santa Clara County since she used to work there before she became a probation officer. When asked what that was like, Natalia stated, “working with survivors was one of the most gratifying experiences.”

Vino W AmigosNow Natalia works with the families as a Supernova committee member, which also includes Claudia Mendivil, Oralia Espinoza, Mary Diaz and Erica Espinosa. The committee plans the annual holiday gifting party, which involves picking age appropriate gifts for each child. The team of volunteers also prepare a gift bag of toiletries for the mothers. Natalia describes the event as a joyous family affair since Adrian’s mom bakes cookies while his “dad always brings the piano and sings with the kids.” She adds, “It’s very heart-warming because these little kids will come up to you and hug you.”

Supernova’s charity efforts have received more publicity with the help of Mary Diaz, an on air radio personality for 99.7 NOW and a VJ for the California Music Channel, who is also a friend of Adrian and a member of the board. She met Adrian while she was taking song requests during a night shift for Wild 94.9. He was a student at San Jose State at the time and he would often call late to request songs during his long study sessions. Eventually Adrian and Mary “hit it off” and “became quick friends and like family.”

Once Mary started publicizing Supernova’s events on the California Music Channel, she could tell that the mission to raise awareness about domestic abuse struck a chord with her audience. While some of them wanted to help Supernova’s cause by attending events, others wanted to share with her their personal experience with domestic abuse. “Listeners tell me their stories,” Mary says, “there are so many times that people need the help but don’t really speak up.”

“Growing up, I realized there was a stigma that made it difficult for people to ask for help. Whether it was in your own home or someone else who you knew, it wasn’t an easy topic to bring up, which surely made it harder for some people to reach out for help,” she says. Indeed, according to a 2007 study by E.M. Ingram, Latinas do not seek shelters as much as women from other ethnic groups. Considering that speaking about domestic abuse is an issue that is especially taboo in the Latino community for multiple historical and cultural reasons, organizations such as Supernova allow for these conversations to happen publicly.

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Adrian knows that there are a lot of organizations out there providing resources to victims of domestic violence. However, he created Supernova because he wanted to create an intimate event for the kids, along with the support of his family, friends, community, and supportive committee. “We all work, have families, but we make the time to give back,” says Adrian as he points to the guests surrounding him.

Where did Adrian get this philanthropic spirit, I had to ask before the event ended.

“My parents were farmworkers and ever since I was little I was taught to appreciate what I had, to work hard, and to open our home to everyone.” Although his parents weren’t wealthy, says Adrian, his family was nonetheless “rich in cultura, rich in tradition, and rich in love.”

“We all have the capacity to give back to the community,” he adds, “hey, if I did it you can do it too.”

The annual Supernova gift drive event called “Supernova: Celebrating Life and Giving Back to the Community” is soon approaching on Dec. 6th at the Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose. Prospective attendees or gift-givers should check out their website for more information at It will most likely be another great birthday for the foundation and its co-founder.

“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.



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.




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.





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.

Pondl Winery: An Innocent Hobby Gone Out of Control

“PONDL, from the initials of its two founders Patrick O’Neill and David Lujan Jr., is one of the newest and smallest wineries in Lodi, Calif. It is testament to what happens when an innocent hobby gets out of control.”

Lujan age 42 and his life partner, O’Neill age 63, met in San Jose, Calif. over 14 years ago where they shared the dream to one day have their own winery.

O’Neill’s home hobby opened up a world of taste and pairings with meals for them. “We had whites with salads and then gradually moved to reds.” Lujan says, “I gained an appreciation for it and then also put it into words, detecting scents in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blancs.”

The home wine making venture started with juice specifically made for hobby wines, found in fermentation stores. The following year they gained contacts for local grapes, one was a referral to O’Neill’s former co-worker in the area, and they bartered grapes for wine. David laughs, “Here are my grapes and you give me some wine.” They then acquired grapes from Morgan Hill, Aptos, even Hayward, to achieve varietals.

About three years ago, during one harvest from Aptos, Lujan shares, “We had so much wine we couldn’t drink it,” and that’s when O’Neill proposed opening up a winery and stepping up production.

Lujan worked in escrow for many years prior, so they knew they were in the market for a small property in a city that had to have a downtown. They searched winery websites but most were too remote until they came across the place in Lodi. “It was the house and the layout; it was perfect!”

“After speaking to the realtor that day, we found a neighbor and asked about downtown.” They loved it there and started the relocated from San Jose.

Waiting for the sale of their Rose Garden home on Hester, just off of The Alameda, they spent weekends and holidays preparing their new home and the tasting room. The couple started living in their new place fulltime in 2011.

After a “Sneak Peek” opening March 16—18 for friends, family and neighbors, Pondl is proud to announce that the Winery is now open to the public and currently featuring six savory flavors: The Gent, a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; The Lady, a 2010 Chardonnay; The Pin-up, a 2010 Rosé; The Beau, a 2007 Merlot; along with two signature wines, a Pinot Noir and a 2010 Dolcetto.

There will be more signature and themed flavors this summer.

Each label was also cleverly thought up by Lujan, “The labels are purple with a signature frame in order to create a fun vintage theme. I love that range from the 20s to the 60s, the styles and look, but I also wanted to honor Patrick’s family. I chose pictures of his mom and dad in the photo album, because his father looked debonair and mother looked classy.”

Lujan and O’Neill invite everyone to stop by to explore Pondl varietals. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the world of PONDL Winery … ‘Where good wine goes down!’”

Pondl Winery Sneak Peek Opening Video by Eydie Mendoza

For more information call (209) 367-3672 or visit PONDL Winery at 665 W. Turner Road in Lodi 95242  and on Facebook.