Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bodega del Sur Winery Owner creates Carmesi, a Special Wine in the Fight Against Domestic Violence - Calaveras County, Sierra Foothills, California

Back when Evelyn and Victor Reyes-Umana bought a winery in Calaveras County, there was not much focus in the U.S. wine business on growing and using Spanish grape varietals.  It was a risk in many ways to give the winery a Hispanic name, and decide to produce wines that reflected the deep, rich flavors of wines generally produced in Chile, Argentina and Spain. 

Evelyn Reyes-Umana
Today this is a successful woman-owned business and Bodega del Sur wines have secured their place in the California wine scene.  These good wines with a Latin flair are produced in their own winery, located on the site of a former gold mining camp near San Andreas in the Sierra Foothills.  The full range of flavorful wines is available for sampling in their Hispanic-themed tasting room in downtown Murphys.

Victor and Evelyn shared a dream of owning a winery and Evelyn put her heart and soul into making the dream come true.  Natives of El Salvador, they moved to California with college degrees that served them well in Silicon Valley – Victor as an electrical engineer, and Evelyn as a dedicated teacher of Spanish and special education at a school in San Mateo.  After some years, they found a vacation home in Arnold, close to the wine region of Calaveras County.   In 2007, opportunity arose to buy five acres in Mountain Ranch in Calaveras County. 

Most of the effort of this family venture fell to Evelyn as Victor continued his Silicon Valley career.  “For the first few years, the work of opening a tasting room, designing labels, managing a legally-regulated inventory, and building the brand was hard,” said Evelyn. “But I saw an opportunity to do good things for the community as part of this business, and that’s when I created the Carmesi wine.”  It’s a blend that Bodega del Sur only produces when they can set aside separate lots of special grapes that meld together to make something unique that is rich in taste and deep in color.

Carmesi is a Spanish word that means “crimson, bright red, somewhat darkened with blue; purple.”  It’s a word Evelyn had heard in music and read in poetry as a young girl in El Salvador.  And, it’s the word she chose to use for Bodega del Sur’s red blend that honored the memories of two important women in her life who persevered and built strong families against difficult odds – her mother, Maria Trinidad Aguilar de Alas, and her mother-in-law, Maria Alicia Umana

Each vintage of Carmesi wine continues to honor brave women who, as Evelyn says, “inspire and make an impression on all of us.”  The image of the woman on the label changes with each vintage and Bodega del Sur fans look forward to the story of that woman.  The 2015 Carmesi release, sixth in the series, honored Evelyn’s grandmother, Maria Marcial Melendez de Aguilar.  What does not change is the do-good aspect of this wine.  For each bottle sold, the winery makes a contribution to The Resource Connection of Calaveras County, which provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Bodega del Sur Winery
Tasting Room
457 South Algiers St.
Murphys, CA 95247

Winery and Vineyard (not open to the public)
7501 Sheep Ranch Road
Mountain Ranch, CA 95246
Inside the Tasting Room:
Wines with a Latin Flair...

The Tasting Room in downtown Murphys is open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

The winery makes a total of 1,000 cases each year.  The ten different wines use locally-sourced grapes that include the varietals Albarino, Tempranillo, Malbec, Tannat, Sangiovese, Merlot, Marsanne, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.


    You can read more about this winery and enjoy a recipe that pairs well with Bodega del Sur's Carmesi red blend in the soon-to-be-published book, Wineries of the Sierra Foothills.   
      Sign up to get an alert when it's published via a simple process at the book's website,   There will be loads of ongoing features on Sierra Foothills wineries, and notification of book-signing events near you.

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