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My life in the wine business began humbly as a dishwasher at Auberge du Soleil. Several years later I would move onto Mustards Grill as a line cook. While neither job would ever be mistaken as the foundation for a career in winemaking, it was during these early years that I learned to appreciate the magic that is created when you pair beautiful cuisine with exceptional wine.
In 1985, at the age of 17, I accepted a summer job working for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Ironically my first job had little to do with wine; I was hired as a laborer to help build a stone wall around the home of Warren Winiarski. Not long after, he would offer me a job working harvest under the condition that I would attend school in the morning.
Over the next 20+ years my journey through the ranks of winemaking would lead to:
10 years at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the last 7 years as Cellar Master
Assistant Winemaker at Chateau Potelle
Winemaker at Vine Cliff Winery
Director of Winemaking at Paul Hobbs Consulting
Each stop played a significant role in refining my style of winemaking.
Stag’s Leap was the foundation. It was here that I learned to appreciate the smell of the grape must and the feeling of being surrounded by barrels of fermenting wine. In addition, Warren taught me the value of attention to detail as well as to respect and enjoy the product we were making.
At Chateau Potelle I was introduced to French winemaking techniques, including all-natural fermentation. I also learned that while anyone can make wine, to craft a truly unique and special wine, winemaking becomes more of an art form. My tenure at Vine Cliff provided me, for the first time in my career, a chance to be in complete control of the final product.
At Paul Hobbs I had the pleasure of contributing to the development and nurturing of several ultra-premium, boutique wine programs. It was also during my time with Paul Hobbs that I fully committed to building Mi Sueño into a world class wine program. Who would have guessed that a “side project” of 200 cases of Chardonnay would one day grow into what we are today!
-Rolando Herrera, Proprietor/Winemaker