The best part about Bed & Barrel at Stonehouse Cellars is people. Our wine is great, our beds are comfortable, our view is stunning, but it’s our people that are unforgettable. Take a moment today to read about Daniel’s journey, and how an aspiring art teacher became a cellar master.
Daniel was born in Mexico and came to the United States when he was eight years old because his parents wanted to give him a better life. He started second grade in Kelseyville and spoke no English on his first day of school. “It was really hard,” he said, “but you have to go to school whether or not you know English.” He adapted to the foreign environment by making friends who were bilingual and asking them to translate. “Sometimes kids made fun of me but I knew if I didn’t succeed in school, I would go back and work in the fields and my parents wanted more for me.”
Daniel’s dad would practice English phrases with him like, “Okay,” and “excuse me.” As a family, they watched English movies to learn the language and culture. He worked in the pear sheds every summer with his parents and slowly adjusted to a new life in America.
Determined to succeed despite the language barrier, Daniel earned As and Bs. He found a creative outlet in sketching people in pencil and even submitted his work to the Lake County Fair. Art knows no language and Daniel set his sights on becoming an art teacher. He graduated from Kelseyville High School and began his coursework at Yuba Community College. But the college environment wasn’t a good fit for him. “I wanted to work,” he said. “I like having a job to do.”
He began clerking at a grocery store and worked his way up to manager while also working in the vineyards as a farm worker. He didn’t know it at the time, but that vineyard work was the hands-on experience that would lead him down a whole new and limitless career path.
Daniel’s “big break” came one day when Pope Valley Winery offered him the chance to work in the cellars. Suddenly, he was seeing a whole new perspective to wine. “I learned the science of making wine,” he said. “I loved taking what I learned about wine science in the cellar and then implementing it by getting dirty in the vineyard.” Wine became a perfect mix of everything Daniel loves: art, expression, and hard work.
When he was 21, Daniel became a dad and his world shifted once again. “It’s hard becoming a dad when you’re so young because it’s a big responsibility and your life changes,” Daniel said. Much like his own parents, Daniel is not afraid to sacrifice for his kids. “I am a family guy; I’d rather spend time with my kids than do anything else.” He now has four children, ages 5, 6, 9 and 11. His friends at Stonehouse Cellars know he loves being a dad because we watch him juggle all the demands of being a parent while wearing a constant smile. “I watched my dad go back and forth to Mexico throughout my childhood. I’m grateful that I get to be with my kids so I don’t take any time with them for granted,” Daniel said. “Being a family man defines me.”
As the Cellar Master at Stonehouse Cellars, Daniel puts in a motion of lifetime of self-teaching and hard work. He carefully watches and interprets the wine as the flavors develop. He documents how the wines evolve depending on the grape, oak, and maturation. His favorite part of the job might be the experience of tasting wine straight from the barrel. “Most wineries charge people a lot of money to get to know wine from the barrel. But here I get to give our guests a new experience with wine and they see the process, not just the final product in the bottle.”
When you come to Bed & Barrel at Stonehouse Cellars, Daniel will show you around the cellar and share what’s in the works. You’ll be captivated by his happy, easy nature and engaged by his passion for developing wine.
He may not have become an art teacher, but in our opinion, Daniel is making the best kind of art. From vine to bottle, this family man is the artist of Stonehouse Cellars.