Mi Sueño - Rolando Herrera

37:08
 
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Manage episode 325737591 series 2983523
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The Spanish phrase, si se puede—yes, you can—signifies one’s ability to accomplish anything with passion, persistence and determination. Rolando and Lorena Herrera, owners of Napa Valley’s Mi Sueo Winery (Spanish for ‘My Dream’) live this motto.
The inspirational tale of Mi Sueño is both a love story and the story of the American dream realized, one that came to fruition for Mexican immigrant Rolando Herrera as a result of hard work, raw talent, and the support of a strong community of mentors who led him along a path to success. Along with his wife, Lorena, whose family has deep roots in Napa and Sonoma counties as grape growers, the two founded Mi Sueño Winery in 1997, the year of their marriage.
Rolando started his career in the Napa Valley in 1982 as a modest dishwasher at the exclusive Auberge du Soleil restaurant. Over the span of 15 years, his resume of employers began to read like the who’s who of the Napa Valley—from the legendary Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, to winemaking great Paul Hobbs. Each experience was an opportunity to learn more, and with every move Rolando harnessed his work ethic with his love of farming and wine.
Together, Rolando and Lorena have built their dream winery with love, passion, and a deep understanding of the art of growing exceptional grapes and crafting award-winning wines that are rich in character and elegance. As Rolando says, ‘‘farming and making wine is not science, it’s experience.” And experience he has. For more than 20 years Mi Sueño Winery has not only represented a “dream come true” for the Herreras, but has also come to be recognized as one of the great independently owned and operated wine producers in California.
Growing up in a rural area of Mexico, Rolando learned to work the land and respect farming. His grandparents had a six hectare (14.8 acres) farm where they grew corn, wheat, pumpkins, squash, and many other vegetables, which they sold for their family's living. He remembers complaining about the hour long walk up a rocky mountain to the family's ejido (a communal farm). This is where Rolando's abuela (grandmother) told him she grew her best crops for the family's consumption. Rolando tasted the crops from the various sites and knew his grandmother was right. This lesson he would remember later in life, as it was his first lesson about terroir.
Rolando was just eight years old when his family moved from El Llano in the Michoacán state to Northern California in 1975. His father saw an opportunity, like so many immigrants before and after him, to better his future through hard work and a willingness to sacrifice his greatest values—his home, his extended family, and his culture.
After five years, in 1980, his family returned to Mexico, but Rolando dreamed of living in Northern California. He recalls riding bikes through grape pomace and learning how to plant and nurture seedlings and small plants. He also knew that his chances for a great education were better in California, and he begged his father to let him go back.
When Rolando turned 15, he fearlessly returned to Napa Valley with his brother, determined to make something of himself in the United States, against all odds and adversity. Without the financial support of their family or a clear plan, they lived in a plant nursery in the beginning and Rolando picked up multiple jobs to support himself while he finished high school. He worked nights as a dishwasher at Auberge du Soleil and at Cindy Pawlcyn's seminal Napa Valley restaurant, Mustards Grill, where he graduated to line cook. Although he enjoyed restaurant work, he longed to return to his rural roots and work outdoors.

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