Toast Cesar Chavez and Farmworkers with Ordaz Malbec March 31

portrait of Cesar Chavez by Dianne Bennet

This week, lift your glass to Cesar Chavez who was born on March 31! And do so with a wine from Ordaz!

As wine drinkers, we reflect often on the accomplishments of winemakers; see for example, my recent post about Merry Edwards.

But as winemakers are quick to remind us, wine is not made in the winery, but in the vineyards. Without excellent fruit, the wine will not be as wonderful.

While many winemakers do tend their own grapes (again looking at you Merry Edwards, and you Bruce Freeman!), the bulk of the work lands on the shoulders of those field hands who toil throughout the year to help each vine produce each precious grape.

Because of certain policies of the current administration, policies that I see as misguided at best (and racist at their worst), wineries are worried about getting quality people to pick grapes when harvest season rolls around. Even with an increase in wages to $15 an hour, tending vines and picking grapes entails long, hard days, often starting before dawn or going through most of the night during harvest to pick at peak ripeness.

While labor leader Cesar Chavez was made famous in part by his grape boycott, these were table grapes, not wine grapes. Someone who is well-known for his labor leadership, however, is Chuy Ordaz. As I wrote in this post about the Ordaz Pinot Noir, I noted that “Ordaz led vineyard workers on a strike that established him as a respected leader. He also led the way to remove dangerous chemicals in the vineyards and to promote organic management that is better for vines and so much better for those who tend the vines.”

Chuy Ordaz “was a pioneer in organic farming in Sonoma because he wanted to protect the workers,” said Eppie Ordaz recently during a #WineStudio twitter chat. “He didn’t want to expose himself or his crew to unsafe vineyard chemicals.”

“Labor constraints have been an issue for a few years,” reports Eppie Ordaz, “coupled with better pay in less demanding jobs has made it tough” to find enough qualified workers for their vineyard management business. (See more about this in the link above).

So on Cesar Chavez’s birthday this Friday March 31, please raise your glass to the men and women who pick the grapes! And may I suggest you choose a wine from the Ordaz Family?

Malbec – Ordaz Family Wines – 2012 – 13.55% alcohol – $25

This is a really nice wine for only $25 especially from that area of the country.

In color, a pretty, deep purplish-red. Blue fruit on the nose, with forest floor and delicate violets, iris, anise. Plum and more blue fruit, clove and dusty cocoa powder on the palate. We liked that it was very lightly oaked. Usually they use lightly seasoned (4-6mos) French oak on the Malbec reports Eppie Ordaz.

While very satisfying on its own, this malbec is pairs well with food and went beautifully with our Red Hawk from Cowboy creamery and with our red pizza was deeply satisfying: the meat and the umumai of the tomatoes, brings forth a core feeling of warmth and satisfaction. With the white pizza, the Malbec works so well with the garlic and cheese and salty meats/anchovies and this brings out more cocoa and clove. The Malbec was able to give an all-encompassing voluptuous experience to the food.

2012 Sandoval Vineyards Malbec Tech Notes
The vineyard is located  just below Sonoma where it tends to be hot days with cool fog rolling over the hills from Petaluma. Very rocky, says Eppie Ordaz.

Harvest Date: 10/19/12
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Aging: 18 months in 100% French Oak
PH: 3.6
TA: 6.15
Alc %: 13.55
Clone: 595
Rootstock: 3309
Cases Produced: 135

If you’re close to Ventura College, hustle over for this evening’s event honoring Cesar Chavez.  Throughout the US, Friday March 31 is a Day of Service to honor his memory. Cheers!

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