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Photo Feature by Luis Enrique Gonzalez Muñoz

HAVANA TIMES — It was after 6 in the evening when, after a short wait, I finally had a chance to meet with Orestes. He is a tough-looking, former Ministry of the Interior Official who showed himself very affable on hearing the idea I put to him.

Orestes is the founder of the El Canal winery. He tells me he has Spanish roots, since his grandfather was from the Canary Islands, and that he was the one who taught him most of the things he knows about wine-making. He has been producing wine independently for only three years, though he has belonged to the Winemakers Association of Centro Habana (“La Giraldilla”) for more than ten.

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He was born and raised in the notoriously low-income neighborhood of El Canal in the municipality of Cerro, El Canal. The opportunity to do something for this community following his retirement is what gave birth to his establishment.

The founder of the El Canal Winery insists that the establishment belongs to the entire community. Born in the neighborhood, he is moved by a deep sense of belonging. Now, there is no shortage of locals who come to taste his homemade vermouth, the best wine he makes, according to a regular there. The winery also offers wines made from other plants, such as watercress, mar pacifico flowers and others.

Orestes is a permaculturalist and also a member of the Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation and the Bahia Project.

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5 thoughts on “A Winery in El Canal, Havana

  • Very impressive wine story! I should come to your home for tasting wine!

  • These articles are patronizing.

  • Oh those poor little Cubans. Whatever they do, no matter how poorly done should be applauded because well…they’re Cubans? Well, guess what? As the father of two Cuban-American boys, I have a different perspective. I expect excellence no matter the circumstance. I don’t give them a free pass because they are Cuban. If you know any Cubans, and it sounds like you don’t, you would know that Cubans don’t want your pathetic sympathy. They want a fair opportunity to compete, that’s all. There is an accepted international standard for wine, no matter where it’s from. What this man produces gives that standard a bad name. So does Ripple and dozens of other cheap retail wines? They sell thousands of bottles of that stuff and they don’t cry about the criticism. Neither should you. By the way, read my posts regarding the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and Cuban cigars. Very positive.

  • Just wondering after years of enduring your contrarian ripostes, are your glasses tinted black, par hasard?
    This guy is making a valiant effort to better his and his fellow El Canal compatriots’ condition and you pull another black cat out of the bag!. Ever consider getting a life?
    I have yet to hear a positive response from you. Your condition in Wonderland must be less than envious.
    Change “glasses”! or…..focus your attention on say the SOA graduates or Wall Street bid for increased deregulations.

  • Wine? More like what we used to call Rotgut. Oh well, some pony-tailed turista in a Che t-shirt will buy it and say it’s better than Cabernet Sauvignon he drinks at home.

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