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Walnut Creek Magazine

Napa Valley’s Mi Sueño Winery: A Taste of the American Dream

Apr 06, 2020 03:31PM ● By Fran Miller

Rolando and Lorena Herrera of Mi Sueño Winery

BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER                         

The name says it all: Mi Sueño. Translated to ‘my dream,’ it’s a fitting moniker for Rolando and Lorena Herrera’s Napa Valley winery, established by the pair in 1997, the year of their marriage. The children of migrant workers, Rolando and Lorena’s success is the result of hard work, determination, and raw talent. Their story is classic ‘American Dream’ material. 

A native of rural Mexico, Rolando moved to Napa in 1982 at age 15 and began his career in the Napa Valley as a dishwasher at Auberge du Soleil and at Mustard’s Grill where he soon graduated to line cook. In 1985, he was hired by Warren Winiarski to help build a stone wall on Winiarski’s Stag’s Leap property. Rolando’s work ethic and personable nature made an impression on the vintner who hired him to work crush and help in the cellar. Within three years, Rolando graduated to cellar master at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, a position he held for seven years while taking courses on viticulture and enology at Napa Valley College.

Rolando Herrera in his vineyard.

  

In 1997, after more than a decade of friendship and courtship, Rolando married Lorena whose family had come to California as migrant workers in the late 1960s. (Today, Lorena’s family owns more than 350 acres of vineyard land in Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties.) With a shared interest in farming and wine, Rolando and Lorena produced 200 cases of Chardonnay later that same year and launched Mi Sueño Winery as a side project. Originally intended as a ‘resume in a bottle,’ the wine garnered attention from friends and family who encouraged the couple to sell their wine. Today, Mi Sueño produces between 8,000 and 10,000 cases per year of Los Carneros Chardonnay, Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay, Los Carneros Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, and a red blend. Their wines have been served at a White House State Dinner and are available in select fine wine shops and restaurants across the country. 

 

Together, the pair built their winery with love, passion, a talent for growing exceptional grapes, and shared artistry in crafting award-winning, elegant wines. They control the entire process, from farming to bottle. “We are vintners that practice the good old traditional way,” says Rolando. “We work on our land, we are the farmers, the growers, and the winemakers. We have 100% control, which is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for wineries that are our size.” 

With their full-time crew of highly trained and skilled workers, Rolando and Lorena farm 40 acres of estate vineyards in their favorite appellations including Oak Knoll, Coombsville, Los Carneros, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Mountain. The duo takes what Mother Nature has given them to sustainably grow the best possible grapes - those that have achieved phenolic ripeness at the lowest brix possible, ideal for their goal of producing distinctly balanced wines. They achieve this by adapting farming methods - be it row orientation, clonal selection, canopy management, or irrigation - to each vineyard site and each growing season. Rolando likens grape-growing to parenting. “You have to be consistently present with your children to know what is going on in their lives," he says. "Even when you think you know them, they change. The same is true with growing grapes. Each growing season is different, and to be a good farmer, you must nurture and cultivate the fruit and spend as much time as possible in the vineyard. You have to be there. No growing season is the same, just like no stage in a child’s life is the same.”

Mi Sueno is currently offering free shipping on orders of six bottles or more through April 30. Shop for wines here and enter the promo code LETSSTAYIN.

Photos courtesy of Mi Sueño Winery and Jarvis Communications

 

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