You know that feeling when you are drinking or eating something with no expectations then suddenly you exclaim, “Wow this is really good”. As you uncover more about how it came to be, a story unfolds and you are even more impressed. That is exactly how I felt when I came across Ojalá wine.
Not only was the wine exquisite but the story behind the creator enamored me.
When I met the creator behind the Ojalá brand, Ace Cruz, he shared the story of how the name originated. Teased with this detail, and as a professional storyteller, I had to know more. “But what about you?” I asked. Ace, quite the animated and passionate owner, suddenly turned quiet. He had not anticipated that I turn the spotlight on him. He was humble and more reserved in talking about himself. I had discovered yet another hidden gem within the national treasure that is Little Havana. His story is one that touches on the history of Cuban exiles, survival and forging ahead, fulfilling dreams in the land of opportunity and freedom, facing loss and starting over, and giving back to the community. Another wonderful story to share on my tours that reflects the spirit of Little Havana!
Ace Cruz, arrived in Miami via the Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980 at the tender age of one and was raised in Miami and still lives in the neighborhood, just blocks from where we met at Cuba Ocho on Calle Ocho (aka SW 8 street). He went to local schools, played Little League baseball on the Little Havana team but growing up in the 1980’s meant many neighborhoods were plagued with rough surroundings related to the cocaine wars which dominated Miami, just as the TV series Miami Vice depicts. Ace, raised mostly by the positive influence of his grandmother, was able to keep his head above water and out of trouble. He served in the Navy and later steered toward a career in financial investments and real estate. Starting with nothing he became quite successful and like many faced challenges that threatened his stability.
Ace Cruz speaks with passion about the story of Ojalá wine
Never one to give up, Ace uncovered an opportunity, a trend in wines. Many multi-generational wine families were creating high quality, crafted and sustainable wine that rivaled the big names in Napa Valley. Even better, they could produce high quality wine and at a lesser cost. What they lacked was a marketing outlet. They lacked an “Ace”. He literally knocked on doors and pitched the idea to help develop a brand and sell the wine across the nation.
What’s in a Name, Ojalá Wine
So one evening over a bottle of wine a group of friends gathered and started thinking of a name for the wine brand. Properly fueled by tannins and alcohol the creative process began. Unfortunately nothing was sticking or grabbing anyone’s attention. As the night was winding down, someone exclaimed a common expression in Spanish “Ojalá” in hopes a name would emerge. (Ojalá means “hopefully”). Then everyone exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s the name of the new wine!” Thus “Ojalá” was conceived.
Lack of Pretentiousness, A Wine for Everyday Wine Lover
A key point stressed by Ace and in all marketing material, is that Ojalá wines are specifically created for the everyday wine enthusiast at a reasonable price.
“We found that the wine drinking process was very intimidating for many people and we wanted them to enjoy the wine without the pretentiousness. Our attitude was ‘Do you like how the wine tastes?’ If so then that’s all you need to know! We make great wines for the everyday person.”
What is So Unique about Ojalá Wine
All grapes are selected from biodiverse wine regions in central California and pass a rigorous process from the start to final production–clean, natural and handcrafted for your enjoyment. Ojalá practices sustainable wine growing methods set forth by the Wine Institute.
“Sustainable wine making is the way of the future. It meets society’s needs without compromising the future. Ojalá Wines seeks a healthy environment”, says Ace.
Moreso, Ojalá Wine also gives back to the community. Ace, reminded of his upbringing, is passionate about children’s issues and supports any organization that provides opportunities for at risk youth with every bottle sale. This struck a chord with me personally as I was raised to always give back. A warm feeling indeed to give back and make a difference.
While not an avid fan of many Cabernet wines, I did fall in love with the Ojalá Cabernet Sauvignon with dark berry, jam flavors and toasty aroma. A definite winner when pairing with steak. The red wines are aged in American or French Oak. Now I am anxious to try the Chardonnay and White Zinfandel which are increasingly popular.
To learn more about each wine profile, which restaurant/bars in South Florida serve Ojalá wine, and where you can buy them for your personal consumption at home, please visit their website www.ojalawine.com.
Great news, you can have the wine delivered via Postmates.
Now one does not have to be a wine sob, to select and enjoy quality wine!
Written by Christine Michaels, founder of Little Havana Tours, Miami, FL