A Barrel of Inspiration: Felipe Hernandez

RANCHO LA ZACA, Calif.-Hey, want to start your Saturday off with a barrel of inspiration? Okay may I brag? Wine is beauty, harmony and joy, right? So it has a place in this blog, if only once in a while, and this is one of those whiles. A stupendous fellow named Felipe Hernandez manages the vineyard–and many other things–here at the ranch in Los Olivos where I am lucky to live part time. He also manages vineyards of some of our Santa Ynez Valley neighbors, including the well-known Koehler vineyard and winery just down the road.

Oak Savanna Vineyard
The Oak Savanna Vineyard in summer at Rancho La Zaca
Felipe Hernandez
Felipe Hernandez

Felipe is also a winemaker, the only Mexican vintner in state, if not the country. His label is called Feliz Noche, “happy night.” But perhaps most importantly Felipe is a great American success story, and I am privileged to call him friend. A migrant worker from Jalisco, Mexico, who came to California some 40 years ago, Felipe today is known in the Valley as Don Felipe. Don, which is Spanish for He’s The Man, is a salutation of authority and respect and not bestowed lightly. By all means click on this link and read his extraordinary story as recently told by Jeff Wing in the Mr. Picky Food & Wine Aficionado. Enjoy….And if you want to enjoy Felipe’s wine, you can order from his website, or better yet join his wine club, via his website.

Vineyard in autumn
The Oak Savanna vineyard in autumn. So glad I got this picture before Santa Ana blew off all the leaves.