Deb Rock guarantees she has never eaten a dish without a chile pepper, much like her grandfather, who bit into a fresh jalapeño at every meal. She also believes she may be the only Latina in the United States producing her own line of hot sauce. Her brand, Sonoma Hot Sauce, has been on the local market for six years.
Rock says she grew up dreaming of having the opportunity to harvest her own food. Her parents were originally farmers from Nuevo León, Mexico. After coming to the U.S., they became a military family, and Rock spent some of her childhood at military bases in Louisiana, where the famous Tabasco sauce was created. “It was on every table,” she says.
After arriving in Sonoma County in 2013, Rock enrolled in an entrepreneur program at Santa Rosa Junior College and developed her plan for Sonoma Hot Sauce. Her recipe is organic and vegan, and has just a few simple ingredients: peppers, salt, garlic, and vinegar — no water added. “I use a blend of peppers, everything from sweet to a medium hot. It’s not a super-hot hot sauce, but it’s not moderate. It’s hot sauce!”
Rock says the high-quality peppers she grows outside Rohnert Park have improved the recipe. She’s even experimenting with her own pepper hybrids, after noticing her peppers would cross-pollinate in the field. “Because of the closeness to the ocean, we have this slow maturation of the peppers, just like the local wine grapes,” she said. “Moving here improved the flavor of my hot sauce dramatically because of the Mediterranean climate and the incredible soil that this farm has.”