A Story of Romance, Politics and Wine
Traditionally, in Mexico, the town squares resembled Spanish styled plazas. At night, all the boys walked in one direction around the town square while the girls, seeming not to notice the boys, walked in the opposite direction. That is where my mother first caught my father’s eye. He handed her a flower as she passed by as was the traditional way to initiate courtship. He would go to her parents’ house and sit outside and talk through an open window. There were strict rules as she wasn’t allowed to do this until she finished the after dinner chores.
In the late 40’s, a cousin, who married an English sailor based in San Francisco,invited my parents to move in. My grandfather had moved to Utah in the 1890’s although they retuned to Mexico some years later. After nearly 20 years though, my grandfather moved back to Mexico to farm. However, Dad involved himself in small town politics and was eventually elected Mayor. Unfortunately, unlike our current political system, when his views were no longer agreed upon by a faction of the town my parents quickly moved back to America fearing their lives. My father first worked at Chesterfield Cigarettes but eventually found his way back to San Francisco and worked in exports, for Schlage Lock Company.
As a result of my fathers run in with politics, I was fortunate to grow up in San Francisco. During college there, a Spanish/Basque friend introduced me to the joys of Napa Valley wines. We would often make a day trip to visit the Napa Valley and taste wine at Beaulieu, Beringer and Heitz (at that time Heitz Cabernet sold for $3.00/bottle) I remembered being blinded by the beauty of the valley and the romance of the small wine industry. At that time, I made a promise to someday own land in the Napa Valley.
Soon, another beauty caught my eye, this time it wasn’t a piece of land, but a young woman, in a memorable blue coat. We first met at a wedding, but that was hardly the place to initiate courtship as we both were with other dates. I then noticed Maria at church on several occasions, and worked up the courage to follow her out the door after one Sunday’s sermon. I walked and talked with her along the way to her house only to get a door shut in my face. Undaunted I spent three more months of initiating conversation before finally we became friends. Six months after, I proposed and, I received my answer, “yes”! Of this experience and the pursuit of having my own vineyard, I have to say, that neither this courtship nor getting into the wine business are for the feint at heart. Never give up on the pursuit of an impossible dreams!
– Manny Frias
Manuel and Maria have five children David, Manny Jr., Fernando, Joseph, and Lucinda. Currently Fernando and Manny Jr. are assisting in the day to day operations.
Todd Heth : Winemaker 2004
Bruce Devlin : Winemaker 2000 – 2003
Greg Graham: Winemaker 1993 – 1999
1991 -1992 Custom Crush at Merryvale Vineyards