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. Continue reading

Family Business: Ordaz Pinot Noir

In this clip from the film Sideways based on the book by Rex Pickett, a character eloquently describes her passion for wine, and how the vine and then the wine captures and expresses time and place and love and life.

When you listen to Eppie Ordaz of Ordaz Family Wines talk about growing wine grapes and making wine, or when you learn about his family’s story, and his father’s devotion to growing wine grapes, you know that they know exactly what she’s talking about.

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The Ordaz family is justly famous for their vine tending and their vineyard management company, Palo Alto, which has 50 employees and manages 400 acres. In fact, some wines are designated not by the name of the vineyard but by the name of Ordaz patriarch Chuy Ordaz!

Hailing from Palo Alto, Michoacán, Mexico, Chuy Ordaz crossed the border 33 times. Fortunately for wine lovers, on his 33rd crossing he was successful and made it north to Sonoma county where he fell in love with and married Beverly Young; they have six children, and one of them, Eppie Ordaz, is the winemaker for their Ordaz Family wines label and another, Chuy, Jr. is also involved in the operation.

Among his many accomplishments, the senior 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.”

In these very troubled and fearful times, it is important that we recognize and honor the accomplishments of wine industry leaders like Chuy Ordaz and remember that wine is make first and foremost in the vineyards.  Our leaders come to us from many places and in many ways. We are stronger in the United States when we unite and invite others to join us and reap the benefits of our capitalist democracy.

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