Califonia Bountiful

Immigrant family's winery embodies American dream

Former farmworker builds the state's first winery to be owned by Mexican migrants.

In 1968, 16-year-old Reynaldo Robledo left Mexico, came to California and got a job pruning in the vineyards of the Napa Valley. In 2003, with the help of his wife and nine children, he opened Robledo Family Winery, the first Mexican migrant-owned winery in California.

"When I first came here in 1968, the grapes were just starting to wake up and not many people had experience," Robledo said. So he acted like a sponge, absorbing all he could about his new craft and soon he became so proficient at pruning, harvesting, and growing grapes that he found himself managing his own crews of men, including his own father. He eventually saved up enough to a buy a 12-acre plot of land in the Carneros region and began cultivating his own land while holding down a full-time job as vineyard manager.

"I worked all day in the fields, and then nighttime was the only time I had to work on my own vineyard, so many times I would be pounding stakes into the ground at 2 or 3 in the morning," Robledo said.

It was all done with one goal in mind, to someday own his own winery so that his family would have something to do together. And today they do. The family owns more than 160 acres of grapes and runs a successful tasting room and winery in the Carneros Valley that features their award-winning wine.

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