As I write this blog, I am heartbroken about last year’s wildfires that have damaged many of the beautiful wineries in Napa Valley. I hope that it will return to its glory soon, so we can all go back and enjoy their quality wines.
Guadalupe Valley Mexico’s Wine Country
This article is about the wine country in the Guadalupe Valley of Baja California. My sister wanted to tour the wineries and asked me to join her. I agreed although I’m not a wine drinker. It was during the holiday season and I thought that it would a great Christmas gift to her.
The concierge at the resort arranged the tours and my sister came with a recent article about the Guadalupe wineries from the San Diego magazine in hand.
There were several she had selected, but the tour included three pre-selected wineries, not on her list. Our guide was very kind and gracious, in that, he told her to select one from her list and he would add it to the tour.
It was a cloudy and misty morning when the car arrived. We were fortunate in that we were the only ones taking the tour; so, we had ample opportunity to talk with our driver as he drove on the 90-minute drive to Guadalupe Valley.
Our trip to Guadalupe Valley was one of the most beautiful scenery of ocean, homes, people, horses, carriages, and so much more. I was intrigued with these huge rocks on their mountains. There were homes on top of the mountains. I wondered if they got to their home via helicopter since I could not see any roads.
The driver made a turn onto unpaved paths. The wineries there may still use horse and buggy as they transport their precious cargo. These roads are not good for cars, very bumpy.
1) We learned there are over 100 wineries in Baja California and most are in the Guadalupe Valley. Some of the wineries are well renowned and sold in the United States, but most are still small wineries when compared with the Napa wineries.
2) Many of the wineries are family owned. We met the owners and their children who gave us a tour of the wineries and the tasting.
3) Vinos Artesanales Don Victor Manuel – This was our first winery and it did not disappoint. The entrance with two lions and potted plants did not give us any idea of what we would find inside.
There was a fountain at the Jardin Colonial, a restaurant (closed in the morning), and hundreds of potted plants. They had a store where they sold Mexican tapenades. We purchased several and used them as flavoring for several meals during our stay in Rosarito. We went to the tasting area where there was a variety of Don Victor Manuel’s cream (cremas) for us to taste. It was a good way to start our tasting since it was early in the morning. There was a variety of cremas, nuez, melon, cafe con chocolate and many other flavors. We did find them to be sweet and I thought you could mix it with a fruit to create a different type of drink. Such as using the cafe con chocolate in your coffee as a creamer.
Another idea I had, the fresas con crema to put on top of strawberries and vanilla ice cream; I think it would be a nice desert. For my sister, this was mainly infused liquors with fruits and other flavorings. She wasn’t comfortable having such sweet liquors early in the morning.
As we left Vinos Artesanales, we were excited to visit the other wineries. When we left, we saw the vineyards. It was their winter and the vines were rejuvenating themselves.
4) We arrived at L.A. Cetto for their wine and wine producing tour. It was very different from the previous location. The tasting was inside a large building where there was a Christmas tree made with wine bottles. What a great idea! There were artifacts of wine making in the tasting room.
Our guide took us outside we encountered the past and the future of wine making. We saw many of the old equipment which had been used in the past at this winery. Then, we saw the modern equipment used for the wine making there now.
“Lucy, you’re fired”. They had a large sorting machine and this is where the grapes are separated. We entered a large room where the barrels were stacked. We learned about the amount of time each wine stays in the barrels. There were two types of barrels–one was dark red like a mahogany color and the other is light like a pine barrel. To be honest, I’m not sure what types of wood they were, but the colors looked like the ones I described.
As we crossed from one building to another, I spotted a cross on top of a wired canopy. We learned that there is a mass with the entire staff when the season begins for another great year. This is to ensure a great harvest and fine wine.
We also saw several artifacts from the period when Luis Agustin began his business. I hope that one day, they will put these into a museum for visitors to learn more about this winery. Their website, LA Cetto has a beautiful video of their vineyards and the countryside of Guadalupe Valley.
We returned to the tasting area where we began to taste several of their wines. Our host told us what to look for and whether the wine was for the back of the throat or other parts of our mouths. I did learn quite a bit about drinking/tasting wines here. Which prepared us for the next vineyard. A 10+ experience in my book. To top it off, we spotted an incredibly huge tree at the winery, absolutely beautiful.
5) The third wine company we visited, unfortunately we cannot recall its name. Unlike the first two where we were we saw the grape vines. At this location, the tasting was on a main street and the winery was at another location. They did the tasting here and they not only sold wines, but delicious breads and olive oil and a lot of other things. This was also the only location that offered us breads with flavorful spreads. They were very good and our host gave us a great deal of information on the different wines they produce. We truly enjoyed their wines and my sister bought 3 bottles. I bought the bread for our Christmas dinner.
Perhaps one of our followers has been here and can tell us the winery.
6) Decantos Wineries was our piece de resistance of our trip. This was the one chosen by my sister from the San Diego Magazine. It was a stunning building up in the mountains. Our host was the owner’s son.. He took time from his duties to give us a tour of the winery. They had a glass table on top of a large carved tree trunk. It reminded us of a table one of our brother built over 30 years ago.
We went to the overlook to see great views of the mountains. There was this one mountain that shone as though it was covered in gold, because of the way the sun hit it. Absolutely gorgeous.
Met Alejandro Granados gave us background information on his family’s vineyards and took us downstairs. Their wine making equipment is under the tasting and store area. We went into the area and it was very modern. They are also creating wines differently from the other wineries. They had these huge unusual barrels where their wines will mature.
They are combining 21st century technology with old world wine making techniques. As we walked the area, he explained the process they use. They also had stacks of barrels where the wine begins its transformation. After a period of time, it gets transferred to the 21st century barrels. He was very informative and we then proceeded to tasting their wines. They were scrumptious and my sister bought more wine (remember I don’t usually drink wine and I need to fly back to New York).
7) Our tour included going to Puerto Nuevo, one of the best-known restaurants and a must eat destination. We had Mexican lobster, yellow rice and refried beans. It was a great way to end our day. Afterwards, our guide took us back and I must admit, it was one of the best experiences we have ever had on a tour. Even my sister, who had gone to Napa Valley, said that she enjoyed this tour much more. The wines and the information on wine was worth the price of our package.
The other thing that we both enjoyed was the view as we traveled from Rosarito to Guadalupe Valley. The mountains, the scenery, the ocean all made you smile at the beauty of this country.
So, if you are in the Baja California vicinity, take a short jaunt to Guadalupe Valley, for the more than 100 wineries where you can taste the award-winning wines. A definite must for those new to wine drinking and to wine connoisseurs.
Tell us your experience at Guadalupe Valley wineries.