Wines from Northern Baja’s Guadalupe Valley
by Marcus Salvemini
A love for wine brings the Mexican culture to life in ways we’ve seldom seen. The vision behind the wine making culture that has evolved in a valley just 10 miles east of Ensenada, came from Hugo D’Acosta, who, about 20 years ago, began teaching many grape farmers in this unique region how to make wine, rather than sell their grapes to a large wine producer or on fruit stands.
No more than fifteen minutes drive from the center of Ensenada, and one hour from the US-Tijuana border, the Bed & Breakfasts that some of these boutique wineries have spawned are unbelievably special in their own ways. Once you take the time to go into the valley and explore the various wineries, restaurants, and other unique places such as the Wine School and Wine Museum, you are likely to want to come back for more.
It was these attractions that drew my friends and me to visit the valley and dine at some of the best restaurants in the area. I have a group of friends that come down here to the Baja to surf, but after surfing blows out around noon, we go exploring around the area looking for local food and good wine. The Guadalupe Valley, as we discovered, has plenty of everything and then some… and now we’re regulars.
This story got a jump-start after I had discovered these wineries and fell in love with the wines and the valley overall. I contacted one my closest friends, Youssef Benjeloun, in San Diego, who for the past 24 years had been importing “boutique wines” into the US from his home country, Morocco. Having introduced the first Moroccan wines and some of the best Lebanese and French wines into the U.S. over the past 24 years, Youssef began to develop a plan to establish an “importing relationship” with the best producers in the Guadalupe Valley.
“There are over 100 wineries”, says Youssef. These wineries benefited from the latest technology in wine production over the past 10 years and some of the best winemakers in the world are serving as consultants.
Tours are also available to the best Wineries as well as to the Wine Museum and the Wine School with plenty of stops at the wonderful restaurants for lunch and dinner. The tours include a one-night stay at a Bed and Breakfast, and run from Saturday morning to Sunday evening with pick-up at the border if requested.
Wine prices range from $12 to $50+, and with plenty of variety so that you are bound to find something to fall in love with. B&B prices vary from $125 to $275 a night, with lot’s of options to choose from.
Wine varieties include all the usual suspects like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Grenache, to name but a few.
“It’s finally the culmination of many years of work and wine making talent that has allowed this to grow so rapidly”, says Hugo D’Acosta, the man who many consider the “Robert Mondavi” of the Guadalupe Valley. “We are looking forward to sharing the fruits of this unique valley with the wine lovers in America”.
After a year of tasting and carefully selecting the best wines, a full selection will be widely available in California. For questions and to learn where you can find these wines, go to www.Volubilis2000.com.