I’ve said it a few times, and I’ll say it again. As a SoCal resident, the Valle de Guadalupe winegrowing region in Baja California, Mexico is THE most exciting thing happening on the West Coast in wine. Where else can you go and enjoy the Mexican flavor and hospitality that we all love BUT with the added bonus of a wine country backdrop? I’ll give you a hint. NOWHERE!
This past summer I had two new Valle de Guadalupe experiences, including a bachelorette party in the region as a wine pairing luncheon in Los Angeles. Both were lovely! The wine area in VdG is called the “Ruta del Vino” and the region has Jewish, Russian, and Spanish roots.
At the LA Wine Writers luncheon, our guest speaker was Stacie Hunt, who knows the region inside and out. She is a longtime VdG supporter and has been enjoying and touting their wines for many years…..before it was cool!
Ten years ago in VdG there were only 15 bonded wineries, and they didn’t talk much to each other. Now there are dozens of wineries and a much more collaborative spirit. Investment and experimentation reigns. The region does not have one grape to hang their hat on, and like most New World wine regions, there is little to no regulation, so it’s a bit like the Wild West……you can decide what to plant, when to pick, etc.
Water is one of the biggest problems in the Valle, as drought prevails in the area. Because of this, irrigation is needed, and drip irrigation is frequently used. You might think that Mexico is too hot to grow grapes….not the case! There is frequently a 20-25 degree difference from day to night (called diurnal range). Plus, the area has nighttime breezes and morning fog, both of which help move (hot) air out and allow the grapes to breathe!
So how do you know you are drinking a VdG wine. Some say there is a distinct rockiness, minerality, and salinity to their wines. Both white and red. Have you tried wines from VdG? Do you agree with this? Would love to start a convo!
Below are the fantastic pairings we enjoyed at the LA Wine Writers VdG luncheon at the (always fabulous) Napa Valley Grille.
Poached Bosc Pear with Burrata and Endive
Cavas Maciel Venus Rosa of Merlot Valle de Guadalupe
Family famers. New to wine (only 10 yrs). Bright red cherry and cranberry. Phenolics on the palate (which I generally get from VdG). Good acid. Nice primary fruit follow through on the palate.
Diver Scallop Crudo with Cucumber Brunoises, Blood Orange Reduction
Monte Xanic 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Valle de Guadalupe
A German family. A distinct SB (unlike any other). Bracing acid, white flower (elderflower), green fruit, and stone fruit.
Seared Cumin Crusted Seabass, Coconut Cauliflower Puree
El Cielo 2015 Chardonnay Valle de Guadalupe
A typical, oaked Chardonnay. Could be from anywhere. I have tried El Cielo wines three times and have not found anything to make me stand up and pay attention.
Vinos Lechuza 2016 Chardonnay Valle de Guadalupe
Vinos Lechuza is the polar opposite. I have had their wines a few times and am always BLOWN AWAY. In my opinion, they are the most quality producer in the Valley. A well-rounded wine with good textural mouthfeel (from battonage and malo). Moderate acid with some creamy/yogurt notes. Green fruits (apple and pear) moving into more tropical notes of pineapple and lychee.
Pasta Arrabbiata with Pecorino Romano
Viñedos de la Reina 2015 Sangiovese Valle de San Vicente
A really nice rustic nose. Who doesn’t love a good rustic nose? Dark cherry notes with some floral (violets) and black pepper.
Santa Maria Grilled Tri-Tip with Chimichurri, Spring Farmers Vegetables, Tri Tip Jus
Vena Cava 2016 Tempranillo Valle de Guadalupe
Smells a bit like Spain. Bright, yet ripe red fruit plus spice.