Taste of Wine – Mexican Influences on Napa Valley Wines

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Maurice-DiMarino,-Wine-and-Beverage-Director
Maurice DiMarino, Wine and Beverage Director at Vintana Escondido, presented a Mexican-American Group of wineries from Napa Valley with their unique style of wines.

I have known Maurice DiMarino since he began with the Cohn Restaurant Group at Island Prime.As he proved himself as a sommelier , he was assigned more restaurants until now, he proudly can say he is the Certified Sommelier/Wine and Beverage Director for the entireSan Diegochain.

All the while, stories of the success of a small group of Mexican-American winemakers, some of who began as fieldworkers in the vineyards ofNapaValley, kept coming up, as he learned more about his craft.The mighty struggles of families to learn and place their brand on wines they had created was a story that needed telling, DiMarino thought.And yes, it was his heritage and there was a story to be told.With the help of Tom Bracamontes, a wine marketing professional in Napa Valley, who has seen the maturing of this group,”Wine Without Borders” was created and 8 Mexican -American wineries assembled for a wine tasting event at Vintana in Escondido.

Names like Delgadillo, Encanto, Gallegos, Honrama, Maldonado, Mario Bazain,Renteria and Volcan have taken their rightful place in the sameNapaValleythat made Grgich, Caymus Winery’s Wagner and Mondavi famous in the wine world.

TASTE OF WINE visited Mexican-American wineries inNapaValleylast week to see first-hand, Honrama Cellars, Encanto Vineyards and Mi Sueno Winery.Honrama is named in honor of Honorio Ramirez Mata who worked in the fields with his wife Esther and saved up for a better tomorrow, as told by daughter Miriam.Her father got the break of his life when he was recommended to Charlie and Chuck Wagner of Caymus, one of the top winemakers inNapaValley, who showed Honorio how to also make premium wines. Honorio then taught Miriam.Honorio passed away before realizing his dreams, but his daughter and her husband Juan opened Honrama Cellars in 2011 turning her father’s dreams into reality, making only Cabernet Sauvignon.Seewww.honramacellars.com.

Encanto Vineyards is owned by Rosaura Segura and Enrique Lopez.Rosaura’s father came toNapaValleyin the mid-50’s and worked for Beringer and Mondavi. They have a full lineup of varietals to offer including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, winners in international competition and the ever-popular Cabernet.All are single vineyards wines.www.encantovineyards.com.

Mi Sueno (“My Dream”) Winery is owned by Rolando Herrera.He worked many jobs inNapaValley, starting as a dishwasher and line cook, then over 20 years in winemaking starting at Stags Leap.Herrera proudly exclaims that “I am a winemaker by trade, but a farmer by passion. I love what I do and since the first day I set foot in a cellar at the age of 17, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”Some favorites include:2010 Chardonnay, 2010 Pinot Noir, 2009 Syrah and a 2010 Cabernet.See more atwww.misuenowinery.com.

Interestingly, the Valley of the Guadalupe inMexico, just two hours fromSan Diego, is about the size ofNapaValley. That’s where the comparison ends. There are 83 vineyards in the Valley of the Guadalupe and over 500 in theNapaValley.But the Mexican influence is strong and getter stronger inCalifornia’s legendary valley.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.View and link up with his columns atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.Reach him at[email protected].