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Robledo Family Winery - Sonoma


Living the American Dream

The story behind the Robledo Family Winery in not uncommon in Northern California, where a number of first class wineries have emerged from the influx of Mexican farm workers who have been the backbone of the California wine industry for the past four decades. It is rare that the Robledo saga has reached such proportions. During the 1940’s the first member of the Robledo Family, Everardo, came to the United States as part of the Los Braceros (literally, strong shoulders) program that allowed Mexican workers to come to the United States and help supplement the existing farm work force decimated by the second world war. When Everardo returned to Mexico with glowing reports of the land and people, his son, youthful Reynaldo Robledo, Sr., envisioned himself one day coming to the United States to seek his fortune.

In 1968, Reynaldo’s chance came to fruition and he landed in Northern California’s Sonoma County, a place where grapes were the exalted crops. He started working in the fields and carefully learned the trade of managing vineyards. He became quite successful and before long many of the local growers were asking his opinion about specific conditions and how to make their plants more productive. In 1994, Reynaldo Robledo, Sr., opened his own vineyard management company and quickly became one of the most respected and trusted figures in the burgeoning wine industry.

During that same year, the first non commercial bottles (around 30 cases) of Robledo Family Winery were produced, and were given away to friends and family for their opinions and critiques. When most of the comments proved very positive, Reynaldo Robledo Sr. saw the opportunity to produce high quality commercial wines under his family’s label. When his son Everardo graduated from high school in 1994, the two formed a partnership that covered both vineyard management and the development of the Robledo Family Winery concept that is the basis for today’s ongoing winery business. Everardo serves as CEO, CFO and winemaker for the winery while his father now concentrates more on the vineyard management side of the business.

“I started in the fields about the time I learned to walk,” recalled Everardo Robledo, now 34. “My father taught me and all of my brothers and sisters what it was like to work in the fields, and how to make the plants happy and productive.” Everardo took enology classes at Napa Valley Junior College, but admits to being mostly a self taught winemaker.

“I am a person who believes that great wines must start in the fields, and how the vines are handled makes up a significant part of how good the wines will become. I learned a lot from my father and I have always had the help and opinions of consulting winemakers. Our fruit comes from many different sources and each microclimate is different and affects the grapes in a special way. I know all the variants that the vines experience so I should be able to produce good wine from the fruit.

Robledo Family Winery’s first commercial release came in 2001 and was produced in a converted barn that Everardo constructed with his own expertise. A simple label that featured an oak tree served as the initial labeling for the wines that were sold out of the family tasting room. Today, the Robledo Family Winery produces around 15,000 cases and little had changed since the winery’s inception. A few states have been added (Texas and Florida) but the main sales for the business are still conducted out of the tasting room facility on Bonness Road in Sonoma, about six to eight minutes from the Sonoma Square and across from the Los Arroyos Golf Course. A business plan developed by Everardo Robledo calls for the winery to slowly increase its case volume in about four years to the 20,000 case level, a figure that Everardo Robledo termed “a place where we will eventually stop under the Robledo Family Winery label.”

Robledo Family Winery is somewhat unique in that it has never been widely distributed across the United States, but has grown remarkably during the last decade from its internal winery tasting room sales. “We have many, many loyal customers that ride out and fill up their cars with our wines,” confessed Everardo Robledo proudly. “We take our business here quite seriously and are extremely happy to see people coming back. It is very rewarding to all members of my family.”


  1. Robledo
    2005 Proprietary Red Blend
    Robledo
    Los Braceros
    Sonoma County

    $23.00

    $30.00
    Best of Class - Gold Medal
    id: 653
    Special
    Gold
  2. Robledo
    2007 Tempranillo
    Robledo
    Lake County
    Sonoma County

    $20.00

    $26.00
    Gold Medal
    id: 654
    Special
    Gold
  3. Robledo
    2006 Pinot Blanc
    Robledo
    Oak Ranch Vineyard
    Sonoma County

    $17.00

    $22.00
    Best of Clsss - Gold Medal
    id: 655
    Special
    Gold

Everardo Robledo a true family winemaker

While Everardo Robledo serves in multiple roles for his family’s winery, none is more important than his role as winemaker. Admittedly self-taught, Everardo candidly points to his many years of on-the-job-training under the watchful eyes of his father and several consulting winemakers. ‘I learned to make wine the way many great winemakers learned,” he stated. ‘I knew the grapes and the soils first, and what they could do for the wines. And, I took classes to give myself a better background. I feel as if I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Reynaldo Robledo Sr

When Reynaldo Robledo Sr., left his native city of Zamora in the State of Michoacan, few would have considered him a visionary. He left to seek a better life and followed the directions of his father who had worked as a laborer in Northern California during World War II.

But Robledo was a fast learner and used his instincts well and was soon a respected figure among grape growers in Sonoma County. He was also an astute businessman and as early as 1984, he was able to purchase a thirteen-acre vineyard site on Cutting Wharf Road for his family in the prestigious Carneros area of Southern Sonoma County.

While he admits he learned his trade of vineyard management in the fields, Robledo smartly enrolled in UC Davis and learned additional aspects of the grape business from the classical viewpoint. In time, his expertise even brought him to France where he taught French wine growers his own particular method of grafting, a practice that is used throughout France to this day.

Reynaldo Robledo Sr., also saw early on the importance of making wines, and experimented with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the early 1980’s. When his wine brought rave reviews from his friends and associates, he decided it was time to get into the vintner’s side of the wine business.

He also thought it a good idea to include all of his family in the process and thereby make the wine true Robledo Family wines. Reynaldo, now 59, and his wife Maria, produced nine children, two girls and seven boys. All worked in the fields with their parents from infancy and today, five of their siblings are still associated with the winery on a daily basis.

Everardo is CEO, CFO and winemaker, while twins Francisco and Luis, 27, work in the cellars and vineyards. Lazaro, 22, is the tasting room manager and Adrian 17, works in the tasting room while still attending high school. Daughter Vanessa recently left the winery to pursue her own career and eldest sister Lorena is married to Rolando Herrera of Mi Sueno Winery fame. The final son, Reynaldo Jr., 31, owns his own olive tree farm company and is also in vineyard management.

In recent years, Reynaldo Sr. has cut back on his vineyard management from around 800 acres to a more manageable 250, and that’s in addition to his family’s own 350 acres that he personally supervises.
Many in the wine industry would be content with a great reputation and sizeable family holdings but Reynaldo Robledo is that rare individual that is always seeking greater opportunities.

As his son Everardo put it, ‘My Mom and Dad took Robledo Family Winery to a certain level, and now their children are taking it to a higher level. We want to do it the right way, the way they did it.”
We know that the winery is already off to a truly great start.

About The Region

The Robledo Family’s extensive vineyard holdings are found in three of Northern California’s premier growing regions, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Lake County. More than 350 acres are under vine in many of the top appellations that are found within the regions. Such diversity allows Robledo Family Winery to produce a high number of wines (26) many of them bottled under single vineyard status.

Also, the great range of climactic variations allows for the correct planting of particular varietals in specific soils, thereby lessening the chances of growing problems or irregularities. According to the winery, more than eighty percent of their grapes are sold to other wineries, including Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Castle Rock Winery and Gloria Ferrer Winery to name a few. It seems reasonable that the winery would withhold a good deal of its finest grapes for its own use.


Maria’s Beef Empanadas with Nopale Salad


Ingredients

Corn Tortilla Dough
4 cups of masa
Water
Salt to taste

Beef Filling
1 lb steak filet, chopped in cubes
½ white onion, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
½ jalapeno pepper, minced
1 ½ cups Mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled

Nopal Salad
5 tender small nopales
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, diced
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

Empanada Toppings
Mexican sour cream
Cotija cheese
½ head lettuce, shredded


Instructions

Place 4 cups of masa in a mixing bowl and a sprinkle of salt. Add water as you knead the mixture with one hand and hold the bowl with the other. Add enough water to make a stiff dough, set aside. Place frying pan over medium heat. Once pan is heated add shopped beef and cook 20-25 minutes uncovered, allowing the meat to cook in its own juices. Once cooked, mix in onion, tomato, cheeses and jalapeno pepper, set aside. Remove thorns from the nopales, cut lengthwise and dice. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, add nopales and boil for 20 minutes. Rinse, drain and allow to cool before blending with the tomato, onion, cilantro, and salt, set aside. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Flatten the dough into tortillas by hand or with a tortilla press and fill tortilla with beef mixture folding it in half and pressing the edges. Place empanada in the frying pan allowing it to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Place empanada on serving plates and top with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and nopal salad, serve with salsa on the side. Enjoy with a glass or two of Robledo Family 2005 ‘Los Braceros” Red Blend.




Maria Robledo grandmother's Chiles Relleños


Ingredients

8 large Poblano Chilies
1 ¼ lbs beef sirloin-cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ tsp. of garlic salt
¼ tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of steak seasoning
1 ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup cooked short-grain white rice
½ cup Cotija cheese, grated
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
6 egg whites
3 egg yolks


Instructions

Place a rack 4 inches from the broiler element and preheat. Lay chilies on a baking sheet in a single layer and broil, turning once, until they begin to blacken. Transfer chilies to a paper bag, close the top and allow to steam for 20 minutes. Peel charred skin off the chilies, leaving seeds and stem intact and with a small knife, make a 1 inch lengthwise slit near the top of the chile to form a pocket. Put beef, garlic salt, and steak seasoning in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brown the beef and transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly. Stir in rice and cheeses and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff each chile with about ½ cup of the beef mixture. Set aside. Put flour in a wide, shallow dish. Pug egg whites into a large bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add yolks to whites and beat gently to combine. Heat remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, dredge chilies in flour, shaking off excess, then dredge in egee mixture and transfer to skillet. Fry chilies until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer chilies to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain; sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately with fresh grilled tomato salsa



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