Tierra Luna Cellars is the culmination of the eventful life of astronaut and former Congressional candidate Jose Hernandez.
Born into a migrant farm working family from Mexico, Hernandez, who didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old, spent much of his childhood on what he calls the California circuit, traveling with his family from Mexico to California’s southern San Joaquin Valley each March, then working their way northward to the Stockton area by summer, picking strawberries, cucumbers, cherries, tomatoes and grapes along the way. In late November, they would return to Mexico spending Christmas and waiting for March to start the cycle all over again.
“Through all of this, my parents stayed strong and focused on their children’s education, which allowed me to dream of one day reaching the stars,” said Hernandez. “Determined to fulfill my dream, I obtained my undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering.”
Hernandez joined NASA in 2000 and was selected as part of the 19th class of the U.S. Astronauts in 2004. On Aug. 28, 2009, Hernandez, assigned to the STS-128 Space Shuttle Discovery mission as the flight engineer, realized his main dream of reaching for the stars by blasting off into space on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station.
Hernandez left NASA after 12 years of service and decided to come home and raise his family near his parents, who live in Lodi, and start the next chapter in his life.
“I was able to focus on and realize my next big dream, which was to one day own my own vineyard and produce my own wine,” said Hernandez
This is how Tierra Luna Cellars was born. Today, Hernandez along with the help of his father, Salvador, own and farm a small vineyard north of Lodi and produce their own line of wines. Hernandez’s view of the constellations from space inspired the naming scheme for his wines.
The winery has two red wines to offer, Stella Roja and Stella Z, and one white wine, Nova Stella.
Stella Roja utilizes a blend of various select grapes including Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah and Petite Sirah. The wine, aged in French Oak barrels, is a dark garnet color. The Merlot has a taste of Santa Rosa plum, currant, dried fruit and ripe cherry flavors and soft tannins on the finish. Stella Rosa is priced at $28.99.
Stella Z utilizes hand-picked select old vine Zinfandel grapes from the Lodi region. The wine grapes, sourced by a more than 60-year-old vineyard, begin its aging process in a combination of French Oak and American Oak barrels. They are then combined to form a unique flavor that features raspberry, dried cherry and pepper aromas. Stella Z is priced at $26.99.
Nova Stella utilizes premium Sauvignon grapes. Produced in 100 percent stainless steel, this Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and smooth. It features a pear blossom and melon bouquet and a lovely clean citrus finish on the palate. This unique flavor can only be achieved by combining the grapes grown in two distinct regions within the Northern California area. Nova Luna is priced at $24.99.
The winery also offers wine club options allowing individuals to get wine sent to them regularly for a monthly fee ranging from $71-$221. For more information about the winery visit tierralunacellars.com.