Scientist Turned Winemaker: Freddy Rojas Thómas Shakes Up Cuban Wine Scene
With a background rooted in pharmaceutical chemistry, Freddy Rojas Thómas, a scientist at the Instituto Finlay de Vacunas, has pivoted his scientific acumen to an unexpected terrain—winemaking. And in a mere span of four months, he has produced high-quality wines that have not only sparked intrigue but also qualified to compete in the V Festival Nacional de Vinicultores de Cuba, scheduled for February 2024 in Cienfuegos.
From Medicine to Winemaking
Driven by a passion for the exquisite and ancient beverage, Rojas Thómas embarked on his winemaking journey in September. His curiosity and desire to create something distinct from his daily work in medicine led him to explore this craft, much to his own surprise. Three of his wines were selected during a special tasting event in Havana, affirming his winemaking capabilities.
Experimenting with Fermentation
Rojas Thómas harnessed his scientific knowledge to craft his wines through a careful fermentation process. His collection includes a grape wine that captivated the jury’s palate, and a coconut wine that left an indelible impression despite not clinching a prize. The process involved utilizing both natural and artificial yeasts, embracing the unpredictability of fermentation to create unique flavors.
Beyond Traditional Wine Varieties
Pushing the boundaries of traditional winemaking, Rojas Thómas has also experimented with various fruits like orange, lemon, mandarin, Chinese plum, banana, and sugarcane. From about 20 fermenters, he has managed to produce 20 to 23 bottles of wine, each bearing his unique touch. While his winemaking venture is still budding and not yet ready for extensive production and commercialization, the scientist-turned-winemaker acknowledges that there’s still a wealth of knowledge to explore and master in this craft.
As Rojas Thómas continues his winemaking journey, his story serves as a testament to the power of passion and the limitless possibilities when science and creativity intersect.