Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Trip Start Apr 11, 2010
40Trip End May 20, 2010
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The Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico's answer to Napa, the only significant wine producing region in a nation of mostly beer and tequila drinkers
My first stop was L.A. Cetto, one of the valley's larger wineries. The winery was founded by Italian immigrants to Tijuana whose name it still bears but is now part of the Spanish Friexenet corporate empire. Taking the half hour winery tour entitles you to a fairly extensive free tasting of the line of wines, most of which are quite affordable and surprisingly good, especially their Petite Syrah.
A short stretch farther down the same dirt road is Casa de Dona Lope, an all-organic artisanal food shop with wine tastings and plenty of free samples. I felt guilty about trying to make lunch out of the freebies so ordered a Pizza Mexicana, one topped with locally produced olives, onions, chorizo, and queso de cabra.
I did most of my wine shopping for Cabo at L.A.
Perhaps my most unique tasting experience was at family-owned Vina de Liceaga at the southern end of the valley near the town of San Antonio de Las Minas. Vina de Liceaga is best known for its long-oak-aged Merlots, which I must say were quite yummy. However, Liceaga also makes several grappas which were part of a tasting flight. To me grappa, a distillation of the must of pits and skins left over after the juice is pressed out of the grapes, has always all just been firewater that's about as flavorsome as kerosene. Liceaga's sweet Moscato grape grappa, though, is full of fruity floral aromas that cut the harshness. Ummmm, peach.....no, hyacinth...... This could be a really pleasant digestif!
Part of the Valle de Guadalupe was settled by a breakaway Russian Christian sect known as Molokans. Most of the valley's Molokans dispersed in 1938 when the Mexican government seized foreign-owned lands, but a few remnants of the community remain. One of those is Vinos Bibayoff, a farm owned by Russian-Mexicans that makes and sells some wine, runs a small restaurant, and operates a one-room museum of Molokan Russian culture and history in the valley. They also allow camping on their farm and the Bibayoff's place became my home for the night, along with all the oranges I'd care to pick.