Valle de Guadalupe: Get A Taste of Baja Peninsula Wine Country
Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Barossa. Is it time to add Baja to the mix of wine destinations? You'll find Mexico's premier winegrowing region, Valle de Guadalupe, in the norther part of Baja California near Ensenada, about a two hour drive from San Diego. One of the aspects of the wine culture in the Valle de Guadalupe that makes it notable is that the rules, or rather lack thereof, surrounding the region encourage creativity and experimentation. As Eileen Gregory, Proprietor of Grupo La Villa del Valle (which includes Vena Cava winery), explains, "We have no governance and thus have the freedom to experiment with everything to do with grape growing and winemaking. The only limitations are those created by the environment itself. It is totally cutting edge and maverick style here in the Guadalupe Valley. We are all pioneers."
But perhaps you are living on the East Coast and it's not just a quick trip in the car down to Baja California? Fear not, as you can experience a taste (and a sip) of the Valle de Guadalupe at Baja Meets New York. This festival takes place over the course of five days beginning on February 26th. I asked Founding Editor-at-Large of The Latin Kitchen Marie Elena Martinez, the reason behind her launch of this event:
"When you mention Mexican wine to most Americans, you receive a puzzled look in return. Mexican wine? My answer is YES! YES! YES! But it's hard to translate that to people without being able to offer a sampling. So, I'm bringing Baja here to do it.
Having spent time in the incredible Valle de Guadalupe region of Baja California, I can't help but want to share my experiences there with other wine and food lovers. There are incredible varietals -- many of which are already familiar to American palates: Cabernets, Chardonnays, Syrahs, Tempranillos -- being made in Valle, and I see the evolution of Mexican wine following the path of Argentine and Chilean wines. Add to that, there are wonderful chefs opening restaurants on the winery grounds, and pairing the foods of the region w/the wines. To think that this part of the wine world is being overlooked is baffling to me. It felt natural to create a stage on which Baja wines and cuisine could find a bigger voice.
Moreover, I think what's happening in Baja is indicative of what we're going to see happening in New York in terms of Mexican cuisine. Mexican food is already being redefined by chefs like Alex Stupak and Danny Mena, and will continue to evolve as Enrique Olvera’s forthcoming restaurant opens later this year. I want to contribute to the changing dialogue about the Mexican food landscape here in New York."
Have you had wines from Valle de Guadalupe or visited the area? What's your take?