We love wine. We love sake'.
We love the taste of it, the smell of it, the memories it evokes. We love the complexities and the simplicities of it. We love how it evolves, how it continues to be a living entity far after it is stuck in a bottle. How it quickly seduces you and goes from something you celebrate with to the reason for a celebration.
We love talking to others about wine and sake', hearing about what they get from it. We love seeing those "Aha!" moments on someone's face when they start to fathom out the tastes and the smells in a sip that finally get them beyond the idea that this is just grape juice or rice water.
When we would go out to wineries and breweries in all parts of California and Oregon, we looked for the small, little places where there was still a chance that you’d get to meet the owner/winemaker/brewer and talk to them about their processes, their successes and failures, their start in making their product. We loved seeing their passion for what they did despite the hard work these families undertook to do what they loved. And nothing was better than seeing the pleasure they got when you took a sip and it made you close your eyes and smile.
We loved sharing that same passion for these liquid mistress' with family, friends and strangers alike. Ultimately, we loved both wine and sake' so much we decided to try making it ourselves.
While that was ambitious and a little crazy in retrospect, there was a tradition of "Gypsy Wine" in the Esquibel family and we relied on the teachings of a man with a rustic understanding of that process to get us going - my father, Joe. He said, "Let it do what it does," and we did.
Our story of wine starts way before being here in Lake Elsinore. It started in the California Central Valley with my dad and his brothers in the 1950’s and 60’s trying to build better lives for their families. It starts when a group of brothers pool their wages together to move each one of them from picking grapes in the fields to driving their own trucks that hauled the grapes from the fields to the large commercial wineries. Every summer there was homemade wine being made from some of the grapes that would “fall” off those trucks. My memories of that wine are not particularly positive: it was cloudy, it was strong and it was not all that tasty. But, because of that tradition and the celebrations where those jugs of wine would be brought out for all to enjoy, wine always has and always will mean family.
Sake' making started in our kitchen in about 2011 after we decided to open the winery. We wanted to understand this unique process that was a hybrid between beer and wine making. We loved the history and tradition of sake' but we also saw an opportunity to make it ourselves in more casual and eclectic manner, maybe adding in natural flavors that could bring in the novice sake' drinker and educate them about sake' beyond the warmed, ceramic carafes of very marginal product they would get in a sushi restaurant. And, of course, all with the most natural and rustic approach as possible, just as we did with the wine.
Today, we are here in Lake Elsinore making wine primarily because Jim convinced me that we could do this. He convinced me that we could make wine our way and that others would enjoy our product as much as we did even though our rustic approach was rebellious. He was persistently enthusiastic about all aspects of this, even the early mornings driving out to pick grapes in late summer heat. He persisted and I eventually became as enthusiastic. It also is how we came up with the name. La Rebelde means The Rebel. We knew we were not following the usual path of the large commercial wine producers, especially here in Southern California, but we were okay with that. When it came time to brand our sake', well of course we knew that craft sake' in the US is just incredibly rebellious!
So, today we are a family owned, small-lot, craft winery and kura doing our production in the facility we pour at with as little human or chemical intervention as possible. We do our best to make our products accessible to all as we feel that really good wine and sake' does not have to be really expensive if the emphasis is on product and not on the packaging or the location of a tasting room.
As of May, 2015 all of our wines are now vegan certified by veganaction.org, a group recognized by Consumer Reports. We continue to make our wines and sake' without added sulfites, without animal product fining agents or filters, without synthetic additives to change taste, color or clarity. We are the only winery in Southern California producing all their wines in this manner. This is not a trend for us nor are we going along with a fad; we have never made our wine any other way. This is what we know, this is the only way we know how to do it.
We hope you will join us in our tasting room and become friends of The Rebel.
La Rebelde Winery & Sake' Kura