Hernandez picked grapes as a child.
He has now returned to work in a vineyard.
And like everything else in his life, the sky is the limit for Jose’s latest endeavor.
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Maybe Hernandez’s last mission was written in the stars.
The farm’s gravitational pull was too strong for the former NASA astronaut to ignore.
“The circle is complete now,” he says.
The grapes, which are hand-picked from head-erect vines, were being sold to Korbel when Hernandez first bought the property four years ago.
But now he crushes the harvest and sells the wine under the Tierra Luna Cellars label. The name translates to “earth-moon”.
“This is the first year we’ve actually bottled wine,” he says.
Jose Hernandez now owns a 20 acre vineyard outside of Lodi, California.
He calls agricultural work therapeutic, although he probably didn’t feel that way as a child.
Jose’s 84-year-old father Salvador is still with him every step of the way.
Spending more time with his father makes him special. And they don’t work for someone else.
“This time it’s very different. I am very happy to work on our own cultures, ”says Salvador Hernandez.
Dad was able to teach José how to produce a good harvest.
Now they are eager to share the wine they have produced.
“These first bottles are the most special because you will never have a first set of bottles,” says Jose.
Jose’s grapes were mashed with a harvest from Lake County and made into a Sauvignon Blanc.
He enjoys working in his vineyard.
As a child, when Jose was dirty and sweaty after working in the fields, his father would tell him that this was your future – unless you went to school.
Hernandez has set his sights on space.
“I took him seriously, you know. When he was around ten, when he told me he wanted to become an astronaut, I told him yes, why not,” says Salvador.
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In 2009, Jose Hernandez flew into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The 14-day mission included a stop at the International Space Station.
One of the reasons he left NASA and returned to Stockton was that he and his wife and especially the children could spend more time with their grandparents and loved ones.
“For me, these are moments so precious at this point in his life that now I’m not going to regret it and say I should have spent more time with him in his later years because I do,” Jose said.
The 58-year-old Hernandez also works as an engineering consultant and motivational speaker.
Reinventing himself is something Jose has always done.
It was rejected 11 times by NASA before finally being accepted.
“It’s probably a pretty good story to tell over a glass of wine,” he says now.
If you are interested in trying Jose’s wine, Click here.
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