Mexican president visits Sonoma Winery

February 13, 2008 7:04:18 PM PST
As part of his Northern California tour, Mexican president Felipe Calderon also visited a Sonoma county winery.

It's a facility owned by a native of his hometown in Mexico -- the Robledo Winery.

It's the first time any Mexican president has ever come to the Sonoma region, home to many migrant workers.

"It's a dream my father always had to receive recognition from where he came from," said Vanessa Robledo from the Robledo Family Winery.

Her father, Reynaldo Robledo came from Michoacan, the same Mexican state as Calderon.

He arrived in 1968 working in the fields. He opened his own winery in 1997 -- the first for a Mexican immigrant. Now there are several others like Rafael Rios, making an impact in the valley.

"A few years ago you would have heard one or two names, but there are more of us now and people notice," said Rafael Rios from the Rios Winery.

Still the largest Latino presence is in the fields. The regional director of the United Farmworkers of America says president Calderon should have been meeting with the laborers to talk about immigration issues.

"He needs to find what is the way, what is the point, what is the major issue and the major issues is in the immigrant community," said Casimiro Alvarez from the United Farmworkers of America.

Carlos Felix is consul general of Mexico based in San Francisco. He says immigration reform is a top issue.

"This is not only a labor issue, it comprises a lot of human situations of a lot of people. For the benefit and sake of both communities, we need to resolve it," said Consul General of Mexico Carlos Felix.

There was a small group of protestors outside the winery, including farm workers who blame Calderon and the Mexican government for people crossing the border.

"His government has created the conditions for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer," said farm worker Pablo Riviera.

ABC7 News did not get an opportunity to talk to Mexican President Felipe Calderon. He was surrounded by a lot of security so quickly after this visit.

The next stop for President Calderon during his visit to the U.S. is Los Angeles.