I normally don’t do blogs on areas other than Puerto Peñasco, but over several years of doing this, I get asked a lot by tourists who winter here, what can I do to see Mexico. Many of the Rv’ers love wine and have never heard of the Valle de Guadalupe’s Wine Country. So we decided to take an adventure and headed over to see what it looks like.
On May 17th we left Puerto Peñasco and headed over by ourselves and without a map! If you don’t get off the toll roads it is anywhere from a 5 1/2 – 6 hour drive. It is 3 1/2 hours to Mexicali and the rest of the trip takes you over La Rumorosa (which is windy step climb) it resembles Highway 8 between El Centro and the Tecate turn off. This part of the road is called 2D and it is not for the faint of heart or people that have a fear of heights. As the driver, you can’t enjoy looking around as the bus lines use it and they do fly. Seeing the vineyards, makes the trip worth it. Once you arrive in Tecate, you take Mexico 3 towards Ensenada which will take you through the Valle de Guadalupe. It is indeed beautiful to see all the green vineyards and the stunning wineries up on the hillsides.
Our first stop was to meet our friend and winemaker Iker Turcott (KRUGER VINEYARDS) who also has a cute little sandwich shop (La Doble T) next to the winery and he has some great gourmet sandwiches. He prepared a couple of the sandwiches, while we relaxed with a glass of Chardonnay and checked out the winery. He is doing an outstanding job with his new Chardonnay and also does some wonderful reds. We had time for one more winery before checking into Quinta Estrella B & B, so Iker suggested RETORNO Vinicola. The young man in the tasting room was very knowledgeable and helpful. They were in the process of doing some labeling and it was all by hand. Here we purchased a bottle of red called Palabra. Nice wines at reasonable prices. Most of the small wineries that we went to, do under 2,000 cases and we prefer them to the large wineries. However, we did find a couple of the large ones that were a treat. We checked into Quinta Estrella and were greeted by the hostess Patricia (Beba) Sanchez Dias. After we unpacked we sat outside with our purchase from RETORNO and some cheese and sausage. The evenings and mornings were cool and foggy but the daytime was beautiful. Beba’s husband Benito joined us that evening and we learned a lot about the area. He is Director General of Abulones Cultivados in Ensenada. It is there that they farm raise Abalone. We learned that an Abalone grows at the rate of 1″ per year. No wonder they are so expensive! It was at this winery we ran into a couple from Sonoyta which is the crossing most people use to enter Mexico and he is an architect. She invited us to stop by and say hi when we pass through.
Day 2 of our adventure began with a wonderful breakfast with fresh fruit, pastries from Ensenada, eggs any way we liked and coffee. Our first stop was a small winery close to the B & B called Rancho Velasco. When we arrived , we learned that Sr. Velasco had been hospitalized but the winemaker Acessio Bellafiore, took us down to the winery. It is located in what appeared to once be a basement to the very old Misiones de California and was constructed of thick Adobe walls that had been plastered over. As we sampled the wines we talked about the area and he explained he had come from Italy a few years ago and was also making some of his own wines there. We purchased 3 bottles of Misiones de California Vino Tinto Blend. He graciously poured one of his wines out of the barrel and even though it had only been in the barrel about 8 months you could tell how good it is going to be.
Our next stop was VINISTERRA that started in 2002. The young man in the tasting room, Omar, was very pleasant and knowledgeable about his product. Here we ran into a Canadian fella with a small group, who had been to Puerto Peñasco and was telling them how beautiful it was there. Ironically the Canadian had taken a wine making class with the girl friend of Iker Turcott and they are splitting a barrel … small world. After doing the tasting, we decided to sit on the patio and enjoy a bottle of Domino Rosado, while taking in the vineyards and winery. We purchased both Domino Rosado and Domino Blanco as the warm summer will soon be upon us, making us not drink our favorite reds. Here again the white wines and Rose’s of the Valle De Guadalupe have come along way and although we are red wine drinkers, really enjoyed the weather, wine and cheese and crackers. Next stop was TRES VALLES, a 1/2 mile down the road (as the crow flies). Here were met again by a nice young man in the tasting room, who knew his wines and also knew Rocky Point. We tasted all of their wines and purchased 2 bottles of a red blend called Jada Rosada and Jada Blanco. My husband and I have spent many years wine tasting in Paso Robles and Lodi, California and if there is one thing we finally learned is that you split tasting or by the end of the day they all taste good. We did the same in the Valle as it is especially important when you are not familiar with an area.
Please see Part 2 to learn about the rest of our mini wine vacation. I hope you enjoy this and the photos. It was amazing to see at one winery the tiny fruit had just begun and 5 miles down the road they were about the size of peas.
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