This is a heart-warming story and acknowledgement of a father lost too early. Miriam Puentes and her husband, Juan Jose Puentes, founded Honrama Cellars for a courageous man who sought to make a better life for himself and his family.
Miriam’s father, Honorio Ramirez-Mata came to the United States from Mexico as a young man with hope in his heart and a dream that his family would have opportunity for the future. Honorio and his father hired “coyotes”, who led them across the border and into the United States. This is where they would begin their new lives… in Lamont, California. They would be recognized by the government as Braceros, which in that day in age was considered to be a very important part of the agriculture industry in the United States. The Braceros converted the agricultural fields of America into the most productive on the planet between the period of 1942 and 1964.
Once Honorio had saved enough money, he sent for Miriam and her mother Esther Ramirez-Otero to come join him in California. There would soon be hope and new opportunities. Their future began to look much brighter.
Honorio and Esther, worked in the fields and saved money for a better tomorrow. Soon Ronald Reagan came to office as President of the United States and offered amnesty for all the Braceros. This was a huge breakthrough for her parents and other families who had also crossed over to start a new life in the United States. This meant that now, they would all be treated and paid equally for their hard work in the fields for the agriculture industry.
A very loyal and hard worker, Honorio eventually worked his way out of the fields and into the cellar as foreman for Caymus Vineyards, and the family moved and settled just north of St. Helena. Over the years working as Cellar Foreman, Miriam’s father was taught how to make his own wine by the owners of the vineyard. He began making his own wine and chose Miriam, his oldest daughter to work in his wine tasting room. Then, sadly her father past away leaving behind so many unfulfilled plans and dreams for the future. After Honorio’s death, the Wagners at Caymus stepped up and helped Miriam’s family, ultimately supporting her through college. There, Miriam took wine and business marketing classes, which she uses today handling her own winery’s sales and marketing duties.
“Honorio, my father was the most important man in my life and he meant the world to me. He taught me that the sky is the limit. I respected him so much for the heart and soul he put into his work that I decided to honor him and his dream by continuing the family business of making our own wine.” – Miriam Puentes
Miriam met her husband Juan before he knew anything about wine. He was then working at SBC Telecom in the Sacramento area when Miriam convinced him to make a lifestyle change.
Miriam created a new resume for Juan and eventually he was hired by a company specializing in mobile filtration systems for wineries. He quickly learned the industry, nurtured connections and relationships with winemakers and was exposed to many vineyard sites throughout Napa – where they now source fruit for their Honrama Cellars portfolio. He started to learn more about winemaking and took classes at Napa College. Today, Juan is the winemaker at Honrama Cellars.
Miriam and her husband Juan Jose opened Honrama Cellars on February 14, 2011. The name was created in honor of Honorio and combines the first two letters of his full name, Honorio Ramirez-Mata, Hon-ra-ma.
He always wanted a ranch for his horses, she dreamed about owning a vineyard.
In 2017 Juan and Miriam purchased 7 acres of land on the far western edge of North Kelly Road. With the help of their family and good friends they created Rancho Honrama, where Juan keeps his horses, pigs, a bull, chickens and goats. This is their space to gather with friends and family and build their community. The Puentes honor and celebrate their heritage and culture, here they host private events as well as events through Asociacion de Charros. In February of 2020, less than 1000 vines of Pinot Noir were planted on the property.
Honrama Cellars only produces about 1500 cases of wine each year. Their wines are solely available through their wine club and for the locals/visitors at the shared tasting space at Heirs of My Dreams (22985 Burndale Road), owned by Armando Ceja, the younger brother of Pedro Ceja who co-founded Ceja Vineyards. In this space Miriam and Juan also use the custom crush facility to make their wine.
“The journey of every wine begins in the vineyard, with the grape. The beauty of every wine is crafted from the souls and hands of those who tend the vineyards, pick the grapes, and cultivate the nectar. Just as every family is crafted from the souls and hands of those who recognize opportunity, take risks, work from dawn to dusk, and share their wisdom”. ~The Puentes Family
Learn more the touching story of a daughter’s love and respect for her father on our blog, The Daily Flight.