In the middle of an international immigration discussion, it is important to highlight the positive outcomes. Human beings cross borders for many reasons, but the benefits are undeniable. Let’s take, for instance, the Napa Valley: our own backyard flourishes from a number of international influences.
In the wine industry, we are lucky to have expertise from as far as Russia — like the late Andrew Tchelistcheff — Croatia, France, Italy, Chile, and, of course, Mexico, to name a few places or origin.
The following is a short list of wines that celebrate migration and diversity in the form of bottled art.
We cannot speak about the Napa Valley without starting with the Italian winemaking tradition brought by the Mondavi family; from Charles Krug to Robert Mondavi Winery, there is plenty to enjoy. A couple personal favorites are Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena($18) chipper and citrus-driven excellent for everyday drinking wine.
From Robert Mondavi Winery, as much as I enjoy the reds, my all-time favorite is the I Block Fume Blanc from the To Kalon Vineyard ($90). It is a life-changing wine with a rich complexity and balanced acid worth the money every time.
In the red department, Continuum Napa Valley ($250) offers a muscular and intriguing hillside wine from Napa’s east hills, and Fourth Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($160) a layered confluence of jam, toast and espresso.
The talent from the Mexican community is undeniable; any where we look around wine country, we find excellent crafted wines. Ceja Vineyards, a well-established brand produces a Carneros Pinot Noir ($52) full of dark berries, incense and hibiscus.
Frias Family Vineyard Lady of the Dead Red Blend Napa Valley ($55) composed of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon plus sprinkles of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot offers a juicy attack with hints of baking spice, cinnamon and a blackberry finish.
Llamas Family Wines makes a killer Cabernet Sauvignon from the legendary Stagecoach Vineyard ($150) with a rich proposition of dark ripe fruits, tobacco and vanilla — a Cab drinker’s dream.
Another major influencer is the Renteria Family. The Tres Perlas Pinot Noir from the Brown Ranch in Carneros ($105) delivers a feminine yet powerful example with dried roses, forest floor and long finish.
Mike Grgich from Croatia co-founded the celebrated Grgich Hills Winery, which has a deep history creating iconic wines, one of my go-tos is their Napa Valley Zinfandel ($32) mission plum, wild strawberries with a black tea tone, fruity and elegant.
From French influence, you cannot miss Teeter-Totter Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($59) a fresh and balanced spice rack with a dose of raspberries and plum by lively Frenchman Benoit Touquette.
Also French-influenced Azur Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford Napa Valley ($25) made by Julien Fayard, crisp and mineral wine full of acid and lime zest. Melka CJ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($75) from a hillside source full of purple flowers, pencil shavings and a rich creamy texture artfully made by celebrated winemaker Philippe Melka.
One more example of a voluptuous and overdelivering Cabernet Sauvignon is Alpha Omega Beckstoffer To Kalon Napa Valley ($175) made by a Swiss man. Jean Hoefliger approaches winemaking with an unorthodox style that delivers an intoxicating and memorable wine.
Haechi Cellars, founded by Korean Sung Jin Park, produces a seductive Napa Valley Merlot under the Moon Phase label ($81).
Dana Estates crafts a collection of exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon from three different vineyard sites also with Korean roots.
From our northern neighbor, Canada Signorello Vineyards “Seta” Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc Blend with richness, crime brûlée and Meyer lemon ($40).
Started by a Persian immigrant, Darioush Winery is responsible one of a beautifully balanced Napa Valley Viognier($48) lychee, almond, lime zest and white flowers dominate the senses.
From South America, we are very lucky to have the Argentinian influence of Palmaz Vineyards, out of their lineup, I enjoy their Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon ($145) the most. I find it highly aromatic and leaning toward fresh roses, toasted caramel and cocoa.
Also an Argentinian, Delia Viader delivers lush and generous wines like her Napa Valley Syrah ($60), round, chewy and full of dried and cooked red and blue fruits, purple flowers and a black pepper dash.
We cannot talk about the Napa Valley wine scene without mentioning Agustin Huneeus, responsible for many brands, but his Quintessa Rutherford Red Blend ($175) holds a special place in my heart — dusty cherries, tobacco leaf, juicy mid palate and an ever so elegant finish.
The examples are countless, and this in Napa Valley alone, the richness and value immigrants bring to our country affects us positively in so many ways. Cheers to diversity and welcoming our neighbors!