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Wine: Another reason for Mexican-Americans to be proud

17 Aug

I felt the earth move when Mexico won the Olympic gold medal in fútbol last Saturday.

Okay, so there was a tiny earthquake near Los Angeles  Saturday morning, but still, I like to think that Mexicans around the world took a collective leap of unbridled  ¡QUE VIVA MEXICO! when the final whistle blew and the Mexican men’s soccer team beat Brazil, 2-1.

Exactly one week before the Olympic history of England lesson opening ceremony, I bore witness to a different kind of Mexican-American pride. East LA Meets Napa, an annual food and wine tasting fund raiser for Southern California nonprofit AltaMed Health Services, featured wines from Mexican-American winemakers in Napa Valley and Sonoma.

East LA Meets Napa, a celebration of wines made by Mexican-American wineries in California.

On a balmy evening I strolled through L.A.’s Union Station to the charanga beat of José Rizo’s all-star jazz band, Monograma, a wine glass in one hand, a plate of food from  the area’s finest Latin American restaurants in the other. This, chicas y chicos, is living.

Food. Wine. Live music. It doesn’t get better than this.

About 30 wineries were represented at this year’s event, some of them Latina-owned and operated. Ladies, if you’ve ever dreamed of getting into the wine business, there’s no better place to get a little inspiración. Vanessa Robledo started working in her family’s vineyard when she was 8 years old. Today, she’s president and managing partner of Black Coyote Wines.

Vanessa Robledo at this year’s East LA Meets Napa.

Speaking of inspiration, Gustavo Brambila of GustavoThrace attended this year’s event. Brambila is one of the first Latinos to earn a degree from the prestigious viticulture and enology program at UC Davis. In 1976, the winery where he worked put California wines on the map when its Chardonnay scored higher than a French wine at an international competition in Paris. Brambila was not directly involved in the competition, but actor Freddy Rodriguez played him in the 2008 film, Bottle Shock, based on the historic event.

Gustavo Brambila discusses his wines.

To come full circle, this year’s tasting held one more reason to be proud of things hecho en México.  A certain winery from Coahuila, Mexico made the journey to L.A. Established in 1597, Casa Madero is the oldest winery in the Americas. Still going strong after 415 years, the winery gives Mexico a significant place in the history of wine.

Wines from Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Americas

And so, mis amigas mexicanas, I congratulate you on your nation’s Olympian victory in London, and I raise a glass to you for your patria’s landmark contributions to el mundo de vino.  ¡Salud!

A toast to La Selección Mexicana!

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