Crisanto Castañeda and Natalia de Montiel are very passionate about the vine. For them, the cultivation of grapes, the processing of its juice and the quality of their wine is not just a job or a way to sustain themselves…it’s a passion, a lifestyle, the only way to breathe and feel. This is the story of two intense and complicated families, the Castañeda and the Montiel, their encounters, their enmity, their loves, their hates, and their intolerances, on the edge of the great passion they share: the vine.
Crisanto Castañeda came to Napa thirty years ago from his native Michoacán, without a cent. After many years of arduous work, he conquered the world: he has a loyal wife, Mercedes, four lovely children: Emilio, Aurora, Paloma and Leonardo. He has his splendid vineyards, but above all he owns a cellar of robust and intense wines.
Natalia Martinez de Montiel was born on the great vineyards of Napa and grew up picking grapes with her parents, Joaquin and Emilia Martinez, humble laborers that struggled and fought to give her a better future in this new land. Thanks to their efforts she was able to complete her education, graduating from college. She married Francisco (Paco) Montiel, an educated and good man who supported her on achieving her dreams of becoming a wine producer, and today she’s set on her plans for expansion. She has a wonderful and only child, Luis Montiel. Luis is married to the adorable Anita Carmona, and he graduated enologist like his father. Natalia also had to raise her husband’s first child, the problematic Juan José (Juanjo) Montiel.
Since Joaquin Martinez helped Crisanto buy his first land, both families have been friends for many years. Later, Crisanto lent money to the Montiels to open their small winery. But this harmonic relationship ends with the death of Emilio, Crisanto’s eldest son, in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of Juan José (Juanjo), Emilio’s best friend and Paco’s son.
From this family tragedy, a war begins between these two families and wineries. Driven by pain and rage over his loss, Crisanto files a lawsuit that aggravates Juan José’s sentence of unintentional homicide, which makes him serve some time in prison. A series of clashes will arise between Natalia and Crisanto, and therefore, among other members of both families… But amidst all the hatred, love lies beneath: Juanjo’s love for the already married Aurora, and Paco’s passionate love for Paloma, the Castañeda’s youngest daughter. This relationship exacerbates the continuous battles and traps Natalia and Crisanto inflict on each other.
And at the most culminating point of this hostility, there’s a murder that will put the two families on edge, as there were many who had motives to commit this crime. Besides the suspense created by this murder, each member of both families will have to deal with their own particular demons.
Juan José (Juanjo) Montiel will have to overcome his guilt and prove to the world and the woman he loves, that he is much more than the black sheep of the family. Aurora Castañeda will have to accept that she made the wrong decision when choosing her life partner; she’ll have to learn to be brave and fight against her abusive husband’s physical and psychological threats. Paloma Castañeda, in the spring of her life, and a much older Paco Montiel, will discover that love can take them by surprise, and lead them to new lives and new dreams. Luis and Anita Montiel, despite the great love they’ve lived since adolescence, will find themselves in a crisis of unusual and devastating consequences. Natalia will realize she has lost the best and most valuable moments of her life as she pursued her dream of excellence. Leonardo Castañeda, born a male in a traditional and male chauvinist family, will have to discover and proudly expose his true spirit, which goes beyond the gender with which he was born. As a mother and strong woman, Mercedes Castañeda will learn to make her voice be heard before her oppressive husband. And Crisanto will finally learn that it’s not worth winning the war against his enemies, owning more and better lands, and producing the best wines… if he has no one with whom he can open a bottle of wine and celebrate a new harvest.
This story is a constantly changing mural that tells the drama and passions of very real and special people, with deep roots, who have faced many obstacles; people as strong and intense as an aged Cabernet Sauvignon of Gran Reserva. On this mural there is neither good nor bad, only human beings with deep emotions and flaws, they fall and they rise… and have faith that the new harvest of love and hope will be the most abundant, and will give them the best of wines.
CRISANTO CASTAÑEDA – Antonio De La Vega
Married to Mercedes and the father of Emilio, Aurora, Paloma and Leonardo, Crisanto is the patriarch of the Castañeda family. Born in Michoacán, he moved to California in the early 80’s in search for a better life. He’s cheerful, expansive, charismatic, and a ladies man. A man of great complexity, he can be a loving father, tireless worker and sincere friend, but he can also be manipulative, deceitful and corrupt. Because of his competitive nature he can’t handle losing very well. He loves his vineyards intensely. The land, the grapes and his family mean everything to him. Despite having rubbed shoulders with people of the exquisite world of wine, he remains a provincial man, very Catholic and of traditional values. His notion of hierarchy and respect confused with authoritarianism prevents him from having an emotionally close relationship with his children, making him a controlling and disrespectful father, although loving and protective.
MERCEDES PAREDES DE CASTAÑEDA – Gloria Peralta
Wife of Crisanto and mother to Emilio, Aurora, Paloma and Leonardo, Mercedes is a tolerant and serious woman. She comes from poverty and has earned everything through hard work and effort. She doesn’t have any major material ambitions, for her, Crisanto is God. She’s timid, conservative and a traditionalist. She lives for her family and centers all her energy around them, even though she doesn’t show her emotions. Only with her grandson, Mercedes unleashes the tenderness she doesn’t show anyone else. She likes everything that is useful, reusable and profitable.
EMILIO CASTAÑEDA – Daniel Elbitar
Eldest son of Mercedes and Crisanto and the boyfriend of Serena, Emilio is his father’s great hope because they are just like each other, both hardworking and ambitious. Emilio is a good son and brother, he’s Juan José’s best friend, and the pride of the family. He’s cheerful, generous, enthusiastic, studious and a brilliant enologist. He’s Serena Zambrano’s boyfriend and a promising wine cultivator. He dies in an accident and his tragic death will change the course of the story for all the characters.
AURORA CASTAÑEDA – Ana Belena
Daughter of Crisanto and Mercedes, Aurora is Roberto’s wife, Serena’s best friend and Juanjo’s lover. During her childhood and adolescence, Aurora’s rebellion caused her parents many headaches. She was insolent, defiant, frank and unwilling to give up her independence. She became Juan José’s girlfriend when they were teens; he was her fist love. With him, she discovered her sexuality, and lived through all the crazy things kids their age do. Later, she studied Oenology at the University of Davis and got a Master’s degree in Business Administration where she met Roberto, a handsome man, who conquered her with sweetness and with the promise to give her a model and tranquil life. The rebellious Aurora died the day Emilio closed his eyes forever. Now, she’s a peaceful married woman, with the perfect husband, a beautiful baby and a home where she insists harmony reigns. But her perfect life will begin to crumble as they realize that everything has been founded on lies: her husband isn’t perfect, nor has she stopped being who she really is, or forgotten Juan José Montiel.
PALOMA CASTAÑEDA – Josette Vidal
Crisanto and Mercedes’ youngest daughter, Jordan’s girlfriend and Paco’s lover, Paloma is a beautiful and rebellious young woman in her twenties, who adores her father, but hates his authoritarianism and stubbornness. In order to avoid the strict control he and her mother impose on her, Paloma opts to lie. She’s modern, free, self-confident, and she owns her body and her sexuality. She likes to transgress, she’s not afraid of conflict or adventure. She has a wild and careless appearance that doesn’t take away an ounce of her femininity or appeal. She perceives herself as an emotionally mature and advanced woman, but maturity, although she doesn’t know it, is something that still needs work on. At college, she encounters Paco Montiel, whom she knows since she was a child. Paloma, who always thought of him as a boring, conservative and snobbish man, becomes fascinated with his intelligence, his different views and his sensitivity. Deep down, Paco is the father she would’ve liked to have, a man capable of valuing her without judging her, of recognizing, exploiting and growing her creative streak and of enjoying all of her foolishness and craziness.
LEONARDO CASTAÑEDA – Hector Medina
He’s the youngest of the Castaño siblings and the only boy of the family after Emilio’s death. Crisanto has put his hopes in him to inherit their lands, their winery, their profession and their last name. Leonardo takes on this responsibility and is obliged to behave as his parents expect him to: as Emilio’s replica. Attractive and refined like his sisters, he makes an effort to show his masculinity. He outshines in his high school soccer team and has a relationship with Sofia, a classmate, for whom he feels sincere affection. He’s a good student, and has his place secured in Davis University. But this paragon of virtues has his true essence imprisoned, even though he doesn’t even know it yet. But due to an unexpected act, Leonardo begins to question his sexuality. His body will abandon him on his effort to act like a man. He’s truly tormented until he understands that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body and that he has a right to live and express himself as such. This assumption is a point of no return in his life, but in order to become and resemble the woman he is, he’ll have to fight a tough battle.
ROBERTO QUIROGA – Santiago Ramundo
Aurora’s husband and Santiago’s dad, Roberto is the agronomist of the Montiels’ vineyard. He met and fell in love with Aurora when they both studied for their Master’s in Business Administration. He’s very handsome, always impeccable, tidy, detail oriented, methodical and organized, a complete opposite to Juan José. Seemingly pleasant and polite, sympathetic and empathetic, he’s the ideal man every mother wishes her daughter marry. He knows how to make himself indispensable and inspires confidence; he’s always willing to help others. Roberto is attentive and helpful, and everything about him proclaims generosity, success and healthy ambition. He truly loves Aurora and doesn’t feel attraction for any other woman, but he gets lost in jealousy. The need to control his wife is the projection of his own insecurities and low self-esteem, although he would never admit that to himself, nor show that to others. Roberto is a man of many complexes; trauma, selfish and envious, capable of corrupting anyone in order to achieve his objectives.
FRANCISCO (PACO) MONTIEL – Miguel De Miguel
Paco is Natalia’s husband and the father of Juan José and Luis. He’s a Spanish Oenologist that arrived in Napa Valley many years ago. He’s an Oenology professor of great prestige. He’s an attractive and cultured man, intelligent, comprehensive, and progressive. He has artistic sensitivity and great emotional intellect. He forms a magnificent couple with Natalia, with whom he shares his passion for their profession and with whom he has a relationship based on open and sincere dialogue. His best friend’s unexpected death and the relationship he establishes with Paloma, a source of vitality, joy and energy, will lead him to break his structures and rethink his life.
NATALIA MARTÍNEZ DE MONTIEL – Carolina Gomez
Natalia is Paco Montiel’s wife and Luis’ mother. She grew up in the vineyards, picking grapes with her parents. She graduated from college with honors. She’s always been a self-confident woman, liberal, modern, elegant, fine, energetic, and a workaholic. She’s focused, impatient, a perfectionist, stubborn as a mule and competitive. She has an overwhelming personality; she tends to overestimate herself and doesn’t know how to delegate. Natalia considers herself a happy and fulfilled woman. She loves, admires and trusts her husband fully. Natalia tends to overprotect her son Luis, because he’s a diabetic. With Juan José – Paco’s first son – she has an ambivalent relationship, but his personality clashes with hers. Natalia loves him and will do everything possible to help him channel his life. Crisanto’s retaliation for the accident caused by Juan José is about to put an end to her dreams. Unable to accept the loss and give up, she will obsessively wrap herself up in work and her marriage will begin to deteriorate without her even realizing it.
JUAN JOSÉ MONTIEL – Lambda García
Paco’s first son, who was born in Spain, is a product of a summer romance his father had in Ibiza. Juan José spent his early childhood in Ibiza where drugs like heroin ended up destroying his mother. When he was seven years old, Juan José arrived to the United States with a father he had just met, to form part of a family in a country of unfamiliar people, languages and customs. He was a problematic child and adolescent, irreverent, contentious, and indomitable. He was making his father and new family pay for his father’s abandonment. It was Joaquin Martinez, Natalia’s father, who first succeeded in breaking Juan José’s barrier; when he took him to the vineyards and made him discover his passion for the grapes and wine. The result is a very special and deep bond that ties Juan José and Joaquin, the vineyards and winery. Then he developed a brotherly love for Luis, his half-brother, whom he cares for and protects since they were kids, and the affection towards his father, Paco, whom he forgave for his abandonment after many years. Towards Natalia, Juan José always felt affection and gratitude, although they tend to clash due to their personalities. Juan José is deeply emotional and loyal to his affections. He’s creative and chaotic. He can be violent on occasions. Juan José has always been in love with Aurora, but is aware he lost her the same day Emilio died as a result of an accident caused by his carelessness. Juan José will discover that his abundant energy can also turn against him when he punishes himself for the guilt he drags, and enters a self-destructive spiral from which he will come out to assume his responsibilities and forgive himself.
LUIS MONTIEL – Gabriel Rossi
Luis is a good young man. He’s the pride of the Montiel family and of his mother. He’s an Oenologist like his father, a devoted and studious son, a loving brother and loving husband. He’s had to deal with diabetes since he was a young boy. Being a sickly child, Natalia cared for him but her overprotection made him into a dependent and insecure adult. He married Anita Barrios, a beautiful woman, cheerful and voluptuous, whom he loves deeply. Luis is a loyal, cooperative husband who tries to please his wife in every way he can. He’s timid and with low self-esteem but very supportive. He doesn’t take well being treated as if he were sick, but the conflicts exhaust him easily, which is why he prefers to avoid the fights and drama in general. He hates chaos and surprises and prefers careful planning in both work and his personal life. He’s quiet and timid, tender and passionate in intimacy.
ANITA BARRIOS DE MONTIEL – Stefany Oliveira
Anita was born in a peasant village in the state of Guerrero and immigrated to United States with her parents when she was a teenager. She met Luis in middle school, fell in love with him and made him the center of her life. She’s of low intellectual level. Possessive, envious, proud, stubborn, uninhibited, cheerful, extroverted and scandalous, she never goes unnoticed. She has the voluptuous and perfect figure of a model. She is Catholic, conservative and superficial, but kind. She’s the secretary in the Montiel winery and although Natalia is her main reference, her mother-in-law makes her tense with her constant criticisms and demands. Her biggest desire is to give children to Luis, and although he has fertility problems, she doesn’t plan on giving up until she becomes pregnant.
JOAQUÍN MARTÍNEZ – Ruben Morales
Natalia’s father, and owner of the first vineyards which founded the Montiel winery, Joaquin arrived to Napa in the mid-sixties with his wife through the Mexican Farm Labor Program. He was an activist of the likes of Cesar Chavez. From Michoacán, like Crisanto, Joaquin met him when he arrived in Napa in the 80s, alone and disoriented. After Emilio’s death, Joaquin delegated the responsibility for the cultivation of the vineyards to Natalia. He feels very proud of his daughters’ achievements. He gets along very well with Paco and loves his grandson Luis very much, but he can’t deny his fondness for his grandson Juan José, whom he adopted since he came to the valley. Joaquin is self-sufficient. He likes young people and cannot stand whining old people. He’s demanding and critical, has political consciousness and is an advocate of equality.
DIMAS ZAMBRANO – Francisco Porras
Dimas arrived to the United States on the train of death, refugee from a country at war; he hides a dark past of which he doesn’t speak. He became widowed in a tragic way, Serena and Rafael, who were still breastfeeding, were homeless until Mercedes brought them to Napa where she helped raise them as if they were her own children. Dimas is quiet, reserved and a horrible drinker. He has a friendship with Crisanto and a loyalty which surpasses the gratitude and devotion he feels for Mercedes, his children’s godmother. His house is close to the Castañedas’ house, on their property. He’s conservative, of traditional values but is atheist. He’s an authoritarian father who adores his children but his emotional issues that prevent him from demonstrating his affection.
SERENA ZAMBRANO – Laura Chimaras
She’s Dimas’ eldest daughter. She’s attractive and sexy, cheerful, full of life, and very honest. She’s adventurous, brave and challenging. She was brought up as Aurora’s sister and best friend. She suffers immensely when she loses Emilio, but she’ll know how to get up and move forward without bitterness or feelings of revenge. She’s intelligent, intuitive, warm, a good friend, unconditional with her affections, understanding and respectful, but like her father, she’s tough when it comes to showing emotions. She has a great capacity to give and see things from everyone else’s perspective, but also expects people to do the same. She’s protective of her privacy and is self-sufficient; she doesn’t allow anyone to interfere with her life, much less to decide for her. She has a strong character and will respond if provoked.
RAFAEL ZAMBRANO – Gabriel Lopez
Rafael is one year older than Leonardo, but is in his same class after being suspended for a year. Rafa is more than a friend to Leonardo; he’s more like a brother. He’s athletic, attractive and the leader of his group; he also has a group of admirers. He’s not a good student; he’s immature and very naïve, he’s about to win a full college scholarship for being his high school’s star soccer player. Rafael is almost Leonardo’s shadow and there are all kinds of interdependencies between them. Leonardo admires him, he has fun with him and he seconds him on practically everything until Rafael radicalizes and becomes a homophobe.
SHERIFF SUSAN ACOSTA – Dad Dager
Mike Gonzalez’s wife and Natalia’s close friend, Susan is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and comes from a humble background, but was born in Napa. She’s chubby, of medium height but with a slim and friendly face. She’s very feminine, always impeccably dressed and made up; she’s a loving mother and loyal wife. Due to her gentle manners and warm voice, anyone would say that she’s a simple housewife, when in fact she’s a highly intelligent and wise woman of the law. A relentless criminal investigator, she is able to subdue the worst offenders, which has earned her the position as County Sheriff. Susan was Natalia’s classmate since elementary school; she’s one of her best friends. Mike, her husband, has also become Paco’s unconditional friend. Both couples tend to spend time together on weekends when Susan doesn’t have to work; they share never-ending conversations and meals paired with wines.
MIKE GONZÁLEZ – Federico Diaz
He’s Paco’s best friend, and Sheriff Susan Acosta’s husband. He’s a Latino immigrant. He’s a retired reporter, a man of words, well informed and cultured. He shares with Paco the same interests in food, music, good movies and wine. He collaborates with the association for Mexican-American wine producers, and is the one who comes up with the idea to publish stories of the lives of Mexican wine producers in Napa. Since Susan works from sunrise to sunset, and generally does overtime, he’s in charge of all the domestic affairs and is said to be an excellent stay at home husband. He practices sports and lives a healthy and peaceful life.
ERNESTO MERCHAN – Roberto Plantier
He’s Susan’s efficient assistant in the county Police Headquarters.
JORDAN GIMENEZ – Aneudy Lara
Born in California to Dominican parents, Jordan and his parents live in San Diego and are professionals in the Spanish television industry. Plastic artist, sculptor, photographer, graphic designer, Jordan has the talent for everything intangible and un-payable. He’s a dreamer. He’s neither attached to the material, nor he ambitions to have a fortune. He lives in a motorhome that he can park anywhere so that he can maintain his freedom. He’s a noble guy, 100% vegan, spiritually connected to nature and cosmic energy, and practices transcendental meditation. He’s very much in love with Paloma, whom he supports unconditionally, and with whom he has an open and free relationship, or at least that’s what he says.
SOFÍA MORRISON PEREIRA – Liz Dieppa
She was born from an American father and Mexican mother. Sofia’s a sweet girl, sensitive, noble and loving. Emotionally immature, she’s still attached to the romantic idea of love and relationships. For her, Leo is her lucky prince charming, perfect, almost divine. Leonardo’s trans-sexuality plunges her into a state of confusion of feelings and emotions she’s unable to share with anyone as she feels shame and pain. The fear of being signaled by everyone haunts her with insecurity and sadness. The sincere affection she has for Leonardo leads her to seek additional information, and she ends up being an important source of support for him in his process of assuming his true identity.
KIMBERLY FIGUEROA – Johanna Cure
She’s a lovely and very sexy woman, about 30 years old and very mature. She’s free and with no strings attached. She’s Doris’ friend and a very successful tour operator in the region. She has a torrid romance with Crisanto.
DORIS ANDERSON – Maki Soler
Doris is American, from California, but lived many years in Latin America. She speaks perfect Spanish, adores Latin music and Latin culture and is passionate about tango. She’s divorced, beautiful, thin and athletic, and owns a Dance and Pilates studio where she gives tango classes, pole dancing classes, yoga, and Pilates. To improve her finances and secure her retirement money, she sells marijuana and other drugs to a limited clientele. Doris is good friends with Juan José, Serena and Aurora. Juan José will seek support from her in one of his worst moments. Doris will open her doors to him; she will feed him, listen to him and get him in her bed, but will also be her dangerous companion when Juan José descends to hell.
IVAN (A) “EL SENTADO” – Carlos Santos
Ivan is one of the inmates that will give Juanjo a hard time in jail. He ends up a paralytic because of a revenge plot by Juanjo.
SARA – Alba Roversi
She is Roberto and Aurora’s neighbor when they move to their home in Calistoga. She was left by her ex-husband and is currently taking care of her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer. Behind her façade of a good and selfless neighbor hides a woman who is very envious of everything Aurora is and has. Sara will fall victim to Roberto’s manipulation. He will sense Sara’s complexes and bitterness and use them to his advantage. Sara will end up falling in love with Roberto, becoming his unconditional accomplice and slave of all his whims.
DR. PORTILLO – Fernando Pacanins
He is a couple’s therapist, who also works with the community in reinserting former inmates into society. On one side, he will see Juanjo, but also Roberto and Aurora.