Rooted in Family: Wine and Stories from Mexican-American Winemakers

Join us for two special events celebrating Latino family winemakers in May 2017

About | After Hours | Winemakers’ Dinner | Wine in our Exhibitions | Past Programs


The history of viticulture and winemaking in California cannot be told without recognizing the significant contributions of Mexican and Mexican American workers. From the vast vineyards that blanket the state to the wineries that dot the landscape, it is people of Mexican heritage who have been essential to the planting, nurturing, and harvesting of California’s wine grapes for generations. In recent decades, many have also become successful winemakers and winery owners as well.

In 2017 the museum will focus on Latinos in the California wine industry, bringing together individuals and families to share stories of working, creating communities, and building businesses in wine country. These are stories that have deep roots in Mexico and involve journeys to the United States, largely in the 1950s and ’60s, to answer the critical need for agricultural labor. While wrapped in challenges and struggles, these stories also reveal how maintaining strong communities and seizing opportunities have led to realized dreams.

At their core, these family-owned wineries cherish and celebrate their Mexican heritage, and a sense of their shared tradition and history has made for extraordinary collaborations across vineyards and wineries. The Sonoma, Napa, and Lake County districts now bear multiple Latino winemaking estates, many run by second-, third-, and fourth-generation Mexican Americans. Each winery has made a significant contribution to the legacy of American winemaking, but has also served to demonstrate the richness and complexity of Mexican heritage, and the culture and cuisine that pair beautifully with their wines.



Monday, May 15
9:00 p.m.
Tickets include food and drink

Online ticket sales are now closed but you can still purchase tickets at the door for $40.00! Cash only, please. 

Join us on Monday, May 15 for a lively American History (After Hours) that will explore the wine and stories from five acclaimed Latino winemakers from California. The evening will start with a panel discussion featuring members of these family-owned wineries and open to an interactive reception with tastings from participating wineries. Participating wineries include:

  • Gustavo Wine
  • Ceja Vineyards
  • Mi Sueño Winery
  • Maldonado Vineyards
  • Robledo Family Winery



Tuesday, May 16
9:30 p.m.

If you are interested in purchasing tickets or a table for the Winemakers' Dinner, please contact Kari Fantasia at 202-633-3302 or
Since 1996 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has conducted extensive research into both the history of the bracero program and the history of winemaking in 20th-century America, collecting objects and archival materials and conducting interviews with winemakers across California and in other regions of the country. What has kept this project relevant is our awareness that wine history connects to many stories and experiences in American history: immigration and migration, business and entrepreneurship, economic and labor history, innovation and technology, and the California food revolution. The Latino families participating in this project have shared their expertise and stories with us, and while doing so have welcomed us into their communities and homes.

In recognition of their extraordinary winemaking contributions to American wine history, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History invites members of five of California’s leading Latino winemaking families to join us for the 2017 Winemakers’ Dinner. On May 16 they will share their wines, their stories, and their pride in the deep family roots that have grown their businesses and their winemaking legacies.

Participants for the 2017 Winemakers Dinner:

  • Gustavo Brambila, Owner & winemaker, Gustavo Wine
  • Amelia Morán Ceja, President & Owner, Ceja Vineyards
  • Rolando Herrera, Proprietor & Winemaker, Mi Sueño Winery
  • Hugo Maldonado, Owner & Winemaker, Maldonado Vineyards
  • Lazaro Robledo, Tasting Room Manager, Robledo Family Winery



On view in FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
First Floor, East

View the exhibition website

This exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores the big changes in food production, distribution, and consumption since 1950 and considers how new technologies and innovations, influential people, and broad shifts in social and cultural life contributed to the transformations in how and what we eat. One section of the exhibition-- Wine for the Table--looks at the reimagining of American wine and winemaking in the second half of the 20th century, when a community of California dreamers sparked a revolution in a bottle that changed the world of wine.



American History (After Hours): The Judgment of Paris and American Wine
Monday, May 16 • 6:30 – 9:00 pm  • $40

An evening of wine tasting, food, and dynamic conversation! On May 16 we hosted a conversation about the legacy of the Paris Tasting and American wine history from the people who were there, tested wine tasting skills and celebrated the 40th anniversary of this moment in history with an interactive reception. Participants for the evening included:

  • Steven Spurrier – The organizer of the 1976 Judgment of Paris.
  • George Taber – The only journalist to cover the tasting and author of The Judgment of Paris.
  • Warren Winiarski – The winemaker of the winning 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
  • Bo Barrett – The current owner of Chateau Montelena and son of the late Jim Barrett who owned Chateau Montelena at the time of the Judgment of Paris.
  • Violet Grgich – The daughter and co-proprietor of Mike Grgich, the winemaker of the winning 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and founder of the winery, Grgich Hills.
  • Ted Baseler – The CEO of Ste. Michelle Estates and CEO of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

Watch the discussion from this historic event here.


2016 Winemakers' Dinner: The 40th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris
Tuesday, May 17 • 6:30 – 9:30 pm

In 1996, on the 20th anniversary of this historic event, the Museum collected bottles of the winning vintages and launched a major research project on American winemaking. For the 40th anniversary, the Museum brought together an extraordinary group of people with connections to the Judgment of Paris for an unforgettable evening of food, wine, and history.

The Winemakers’ Dinner is a fundraiser for the Museum’s American Food and Wine History Project. This event in 2016 featured the following winemakers who shared their wines, their own stories, and their thoughts on the legacy of the Paris Tasting: 

  • Bo Barrett
    CEO, Chateau Montelena Winery
    Son of the late Jim Barrett, former owner, Chateau Montelena Winery
  • Heidi Barrett
    Winemaker, Owner, La Sirena
  • Ted Baseler
    President & CEO, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
  • Violet Grgich
    Co-Proprietor, VP of Sales and Marketing, Grgich Hills Estate
    Daughter of Miljenko "Mike" Grgich, winemaker, Winning 1973 Chardonnay
  • Warren Winiarski
    Winemaker, Winning 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Founder, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars