My family immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1960. The existential problem for my family was my grandfather Arturo’s company was one of the most successful leaf tobacco distributors in Cuba. We were selling leaf tobacco not only to the largest American Cigar producers, but to our cousins the Menendez family of Montecristo, H. Uppman and Por Larranaga cigars.
When the revolution shook the Island and all brands were nationalized, there was nothing left to be done and my Grandfather returned to Asturias in Spain. My father Arturo was sought out for his skills and began working for our previous American cigar clients in Connecticut. He went on to Nicaragua, Honduras, and Jamaica, before settling down with the Menendez family in Bahia, Brazil, where he still makes cigars to this day.
Given the challenges the cigar business had presented to my family, I chose a different path, despite my love of horticulture. However, in 1999 an event changed my life forever in the form of a 1995 Brunello di Motalcino. I had never had a wine remotely like this and it set a course for where we are today.
It is said great things often have small beginnings. I starting learning about wines and the places they come from, traveling through the wine regions of France and Spain, exposing myself to wines I had yet to discover. I participated in many wine dinners while working in Washington, DC. Most of this gave me the knowledge to at least know what I liked.
In 2007 my family and I went back to Bordeaux again and visited Le Interdit Wine Shop to pick up a mixed case for a week stay in Sarlat in the Perigord region. The owner remembered me from my last trip there and gave me a great mix of wines. I mentioned to him that I would love to own a small vineyard in France. After thinking a minute, he gave me a piece of sage advice “My friend, you know some of the best wines in the world come from California.” This statement coming from a Frenchman that owns one of the best wine shops in Bordeaux!
In 2008 we came out to Sonoma County and never looked back. We would rent homes in the different small towns, from Russian River to the North Coast, ultimately realizing Healdsburg was at the confluence of many of the AVAs in Sonoma County.
We acquired the “Mi Cielo” Vineyard in the Alexander Valley in 2011. We have invested a great deal of time and effort to make this the small gem it has become, a genuine boutique vineyard producing beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon. Through the years I have sought out relations with some of the best vineyards in Sonoma County and I will slowly be introducing more Rhone varietals from Russian River and Bennett Valley to our selections.
Over my lifetime, in spite of what successes I have enjoyed I have always felt a need to create something beautiful. Something I could do with my family and would bind us closer together. I have realized that dream every time I see the smile on a person’s face as they finish a glass of our wine.