A Father’s Dream and a Husband’s Promise

It began with Honorio Ramirez Mata‘s dream to someday own a winery. A Mexican immigrant, he was a lifelong vineyard worker in the Napa Valley, and he talked about his dream with his daughter, Miriam. He eventually became Cellar Master at Caymus Vineyards before he passed away in 1998, and it seemed his dream had died with him. But Miriam was determined. She did not know how she would do it, but somehow, her father would have his winery.

Enter Juan Puentes, just a year after Miriam’s father’s untimely passing. Once Juan knew of Miriam’s mission to fulfill her father’s dream, he was all in. Before they were married, he promised her that one day they would open her father’s winery.

Juan made good on his promise. He left his career and set out to learn all he could about the business of winemaking. He took jobs in cellars and worked custom crush—learning hands-on while studying winemaking at Napa Valley College.

Finally, in 2008, Honorio’s dream began to take shape. Sourcing fruit from vineyards they knew and trusted, Juan made 500 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon for the first vintage of HONRAMA – a tribute to Honorio Ramirez Mata.

Miriam hustled to balance marketing the brand, raising three small children, pouring wine at events around the valley, and telling the Honrama story while Juan worked behind the scenes honing his craft.

A few years later, the duo joined the Heirs Wine Collective “Heirs of My Dreams,” which provided them a tasting room in Sonoma, and it changed everything. “It was a blessing,” Miriam said, “The best thing we’ve done has been the tasting room.”

And then the pandemic struck, and they had to close the doors for almost two months. But the mandatory closure was not the first roadblock that Juan and Miriam had faced in their journey.

Their vineyard and residential property, Honrama Ranch, was purchased with them vision to have a winery and tasting room there one day. However, county ordinances on acreage have been a stumbling block. They are working with Saving the Family Farms, a Napa Valley advocacy group hoping to create an ordinance for Napa Valley’s smallest legacy producers to obtain a Micro-Winery use permit, but it has been an uphill battle.

Until then, their focus is on the tasting room. Luckily, traffic ticked up when things opened again, and folks from the city started road tripping to Sonoma for weekends. Enchanted by their story of honoring Honorio’s dream and building a legacy for their family, customers responded, and Honrama Cellars began to get real traction. Visitors started joining their wine club in droves, and Juan and Miriam saw their wine club membership soar 500 percent—from 30 to 150 in less than a year.

No longer a “Mom & Pop” operation, Honrama is now poised to soar, and they are adding employees so that Miriam can focus on marketing and strategy. Their next goal is to work with Saving the Family Farm to obtain the permits necessary to make wine at their Honrama Ranch—that will be the full culmination of Miriam’s father’s dream and her husband Juan’s promise.


Story By: Layne Randolph & Evan Roscoe