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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Mi Sueñ,o Winery - Napa Valley

92 Points - Wine Enthusiasts

The origins of Napa Valley’s Mi Sueño Winery are not dissimilar from other peer wineries of Mexican-American ownership. More than thirty years ago, owner-winemaker Rolando Herrera accompanied his parents and family to St. Helena in Napa Valley as his father sought a better life for his family. Señor Herrera found work in a nursery while Rolando and his siblings went to school.

Five years later, the Herrera Family returned to El Llano, Michoacan, a departure from other winery stories of similar origin. Young Rolando now worked with his grandparents, farming corn, wheat and strawberries, and learned valuable lessons about the relationship of crops to the land on which they were planted. Rolando Herrera also nurtured a goal, one that was gleaned from his earlier experience with Napa Valley and its grapes. Upon reaching his fifteenth birthday, he returned to Napa to finish high school. While in school, Rolando went to work for fabled Napa icon Warren Winiarski at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars as a cellar worker. The job there would last ten years and would provide the momentum for the remainder of Rolando Herrera’s tenure in the wine industry. Herrera was named cellar master at the youthful age of twenty-one.

“Warren was one of the most generous people you could ever imagine,” commented Herrera. “He prompted me to go to college and provided me the means to take the wine industry seminars at UC Davis. Each year we would have a UC Davis grad come to the winery. They would teach me the theory and I would show them the practical approach to winemaking.” In 1995, Rolando Herrera made the most difficult decision in his life and left Stag’s Leap for nearby Chateau Potelle and French owner-winemaker Marquetta Fourmeaux. Here, Rolando believes, was the place where he learned the art of winemaking.

“This was the first time I was actually exposed to natural winemaking as the French prefer to do it,” he explained. “In the end, it was all quite artistic and really changed my attitude toward my craft. I was extremely happy with everything and my life was pretty secure, but in the back of my mind something was missing.”

It had started during the difficult harvest of 1996 when Herrera realized he was always making wines for other people and at someone else’s direction. He knew he would never be able to prove himself and his abilities unless he did it on his own. Herrera decided to purchase some grapes and make some wine that he could eventually sell on the bulk market and recapture his investment. His initial purchase of Chardonnay came from the incredible 1997 vintage and the rest of the story is history.

“I was winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery at the time,” he added. “They were kind enough to allow me to use their facility and make my wine. I chose Chardonnay because I felt it was a grape that California didn’t utilize to its fullest.” Herrera produced 250 cases of the first Mi Sueño (My Dream) Chardonnay. It was so good that his friends urged him to label it and sell it rather than put it on the bulk market. The wine sold out immediately to rave reviews and Mi Sueño has not looked back since. A number of French people called him to say that they thought the wine was French and not Californian in origin. Herrera has stuck with the style and today produces somewhere around 5,000 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and a Cabernet/Syrah blend.

He is also beginning to look out for a near-perfect location on which to build his dream winery. He has outgrown the 4,000-foot facility he began with and even the 12,000-foot new facility he currently uses. He gives credit to each of his mentors, Winiarski, Fourmeaux, and his current business associate, Paul Hobbs. Each provides a different introspect to the wine business that affected the ultimate existence of Mi Sueño Winery.

“I am living my dream every minute,” Rolando Herrera finalized. “And I consider myself a truly fortunate person.” There’s a little bit of Mi Sueño in each of our dreams, as Rolando Herrera’s wonderful wines bear out.

  1. Mi Sueno
    2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Mi Sueno
    Coombsville District
    Napa Valley


    92 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 663