From Mexico to Napa: the story of Roberto Juarez

From Mexico to Napa: the story of Roberto Juarez

Roberto Juarez Roberto Juarez has eyes that smile. He’s well-liked, with an infectious laugh that comes often. At 38, he’s a husband, a father and a vineyard manager who came to Napa as a young immigrant and built for himself what many others have also come here for. A better life. Today, Napa is his home.

For a long time though, it didn’t feel that way. A wall of words kept him from understanding his adopted home and it from understanding him.

There’s little left of that wall for him now, and speaking on a recent summer afternoon, he wields English with poise, rarely grasping for the right words through our interview as he tells me his story, his second language reaching to meet my first and only.

He’s born into a large family in Guanajuato, Mexico, where it’s hot and dry most of the year. A rainy season lasts from June to September and from November to April it’s windy, with gusts that often change direction.

His town is small, home to maybe 5,000 people. His family, like most, work in the fields, growing corn, sorghum and tomatoes. Growing up, he goes with his father to a lake used for irrigation and fishing, one a little smaller than Lake Berryessa. They catch tilapia.

He has a vegetable garden and there are fruit-bearing cacti. He meets a girl in school named Adriana. One day they’ll marry. Every Sunday, his friends and family go to the park downtown.

As soon as he can, he starts helping […]

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