Grower and Winemaker: Ulises Valdez

Ulises Valdez American Dream

Ulises Valdez is one of California’s most prestigious grape growers, though you wouldn’t know it by just speaking with him. Despite the enormity of his accomplishments, Valdez  carries himself with great humility. An emotional speaker who gesticulates emphatically, Valdez alternates between cracking jokes (often self-effacing) and tearing up during one of the many poignant moments of his remarkably moving tale. Though he praises his own dedication, Valdez seems almost surprised by his success, painting it more as a lucky strike than as what it clearly is—the deserved result of decades of relentless work and an irrepressible entrepreneurial prowess.

Ulises Valdez, Valdez Family Winery profile

Valdez Family Winery is the product of Ulises Valdez’s bold journey from a remote village in Michoacán, Mexico to Sonoma County, California. With hard work and passion for the vineyards, this is a true American-dream story.

Ulises was born into a large family of 8 brothers and sisters; at a very young age he began working to support his family. With not many opportunities in his village, he envisioned a better future by heading north, to the United States.

He began his journey to the U.S. in 1985. Without much luck at the first site, a persistent and optimistic 16 year old Ulises eventually found work up on Rockpile, in Cloverdale. His goal was simple; he would work hard and save enough money to help out his family.

The Immigration Reform and Control act of 1986 allowed Ulises to obtain legal residency and become a U.S. citizen. He seized the opportunity and co-started a vineyard management company. After a few years of saving up he bought out his partner. Ulises’s dedication and love for his work didn’t go unnoticed; He obtained a reputation for his impeccable work and gained many high profile clients such as Mark Aubert, JC Cellars, Paul Hobbs and Pahlmeyer. Valdez and Sons Vineyard MGMT now farms just over 1,000 acres.

Being the big dreamer that he is, Ulises wanted to launch a wine label to showcase his passion and love for the grapes he grows with a product of his own. In 2004 the first vintage of Valdez wine was released. He continued the label by opening a winery in 2010; three years later the Valdez tasting room opened in Healdsburg, California.

Valdez Family wines have received great reviews such as 90 point plus scores from The Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.

In May, 2010, the Russian River “Silver Eagle” Chardonnay was served to President Felipe Calderon of Mexico at a state dinner at the White House.

Through hard work and dedication the Valdez Family continues to live the American-dream.


2013 Valdez Zinfandel $29/bottle

A fresh wine with notes of licorice, black berries, and hints of cracked black pepper, with a long lingering finish. Fruit for this wine is sourced from 3 different Sonoma County AVAs Dry creek, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley.  


(sourced from and

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