Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Valle de Guadalupe 2013

Living across the border in San Diego you constantly here about the wine region of Mexico, Valle de Guadalupe. Over the years it has grown with many new vintners, hotels, restaurants and has become quite the thing to do on weekends. For me it was more of the opposite. I had grown up spending much of my time down there as my family use to own one of the big wineries of the region. After it was sold, we no longer felt the desire to go and see the slow downfall of my grandfathers dream. 
Los Vinos de mi Abuelo

Corcholatas y Tecate :)
The day had come, with family friends visiting from Spain that we had to face what was down there. At least for me. We started with our first stop wanting to try the famous mariscos of La Guerrerense. Stomach growling and enthusiasm depleted when we realized she is closed on Tuesdays! Just our luck. We were thinking of getting back in to the car but then Sofia remembered that down the street there was another "cart" that she had tried and liked. El Guero, there since 1981, so it must be good. We look around and all the restaurants were empty. Not this one, he had a crowd surrounding him. If they like it, then we must like it too.
Tostada de Ceviche with their Special blend which was every shell animal you can think of. Clams the size of my hands being cut open and cleaned right in front of you. Over 10 people working the cart like a culinary symphony. Oh yeah, these were good. 

Happy and full we go to Valle de Guadalupe. Beautiful day with a beautiful drive, coasting the Pacific Ocean. Passing the shrimp and tuna fishing boats. So crazy to see how one border changes the whole dynamic of the coast. 

We arrive to Domecq, which was my childhood stomping ground. The guard at the door tells us they are closed to the public as they are remodeling and wont be open for another year. He gives us a list of suggestions for other wineries and my hopes were shattered. I don't do they name dropping but this time I had to. I ask for my grandfathers old secretary and ask him to call her up and tell them it was me. Open Sesame :):)

Walking though the hallways, the nostalgia set in of me playing through the vineyards, stomping on the grapes during the vendimias, hiding in the kitchens...the list goes on. I see Esperanza's face and nothing had changed. Big hug of memories and in the end I don't know who came out happier. The offices were empty, the old busy days of phones and people working like little ant farms was no longer. As we are about to leave she asks us if we would like a tour as the enologist could take us. Yes please. Honestly I had the knot in my throat to think I was going to see a new reality that I didn't like.

Bottling my Non Label "09 Gem
We walk in and Alberto spoke like any tour I have ever been on did. As we walk through and try their Chardonnay, which I was impressed with, we slowly start telling him the stories of what was. The stories of the family that made this company so great and made it the home of many. A lot of the new technologies were present. The new juice extractors, the vats, the cooling systems. Very 2013.

Then we make it to the actual cellar where we all agreed, till this day this is the prettiest cellar of all of Valle de Guadalupe. The "cave" with my grandfathers table, all the vintage wine presses from the 1700s, wine carts for the barrels. These things have no price and to us, they will never be Just Things.
Vintage Wine Press

Memory Lane
Our Enologist is now intrigued with more of our stories and starts giving us His "babies" to try. First the Magnum Reserva. Great wine and very indicative of Mexican Terroir. Then he brings out the big guns. A wine that isn't even on the market, that he has been formulating the past 14 years he has been there. We line up to the vat, he opens the spout and out comes the ruby gold. Yum Yum. The nose was so complex I almost didn't want to drink it.
 "The type of wine that invites the second glass." So lets have a second one. Then he gave us a gift with no price. 2 bottles, unlabeled, straight from the vat. Perfect present for my others upcoming birthday. ( coolest part is that I got to fill them :)
Our 30 minute peak into the past turned into 2 hours and filled with moments I will cherish forever. 
Big hugs and time to leave. WE were filled with so much emotion, the thought of visiting another winery we though would stump our previous good fortune.

Adobe Guadalupe, a boutique winery started my Mr  and Mrs Miller who we had met a couple of years back. They had a dream with out a destination. Giovanni told the story after some sad moments in life, they started their life here in Valle de Guadalupe. His passion was wine, her passion was horses and here they worked together to make their passions come to life. As Giovanni explained the horses, I again here my grandfathers name." Mrs Miller breeds the Aztec horse that was started by don Antonio Ariza..."gulp again. I had to tell him proudly that I was his granddaughter and like old friends, the stories came out pouring like the wine. He had not been there long but he knew much about my family as his whole family had once worked for my Opa. In different parts of the productions and as he says," When you drink a glass of wine, you don't realize all the hands that it took to make it come together." So for him as for us, Wine was made by his family too. The Millers were another great family and unfortunate with the late passing of Mr Ron Miller we hope that Tru has the strength, which we know she does, to continue the legacy of her husband and of her own. Vinos and Aztecas.

They sky is turning pink and our 3 pm lunch reservations at one of the best restaurants of all Mexico, had turned to almost 6 pm. We keep calling to push back the time and the chef patiently tells us not to worry. They only harvest the food once we arrive. Um wow. Totally deserving of their Best Hotel Restaurant award from Travel and Leisure.
Oysters and Agua Mala
As they bring us warm rosemary bread, they offer us the 2 hour tasting menu and we trustfully say Claro que si. After all the wine tasting we needed to freshen our palette with a cold one so we tried the local new IPA brew from Agua Mala ( must try). AS the courses came in one by one we felt obnoxious for taking pictures of each and everyone but it couldn't be helped. I mean, I actually ate the oysters! And they were delish! Tomato Salad over goat cheese puree, delicate fish with baby carrot green leaves, crispy pheasant with baby beets. Culinary Masterpiece by Diego Hernandez

What a day. So many new things founded on so much history makes me excited for what is to come...and this is only the beginning.

Walking the Culinary Garden