Monday, February 23, 2009

Vinifera (2/2)


Juan Carlos informs me, “after I arrived here I visualized a place where all the wine of Baja California Norte could be presented, displayed and promoted. I want to design activities so my clients can understand all the work and processes that go into creating a bottle of wine.” He also wants to teach people about the realities and difficulties that face winemakers in Mexico. “In Mexico we have prohibitively high taxes on each bottle of wine, serious water quality issues, poor distribution of wine nationality and internationally, and a lack of unity and cooperation among members of the wine industry. These issues need to be addressed so our wine can arrive on the international stage and get the credit and recognition they deserve.” In addition he believes that wine drinking and wine tasting should be a fun and relaxed activity. He remarks, “In Mexico City wine consumption is more of social fad and very pretentious rather than a real exploration of wine. Here in Baja California wine drinkers are more relaxed, casual and into learning about the art of crafting wine. People in this region are exploring the world of wine and are developing a more sophisticated palate, a deeper of understanding of wine in relationship to the diversity of varietals, and the connection between land, weather, style and barrel aging. It’s an exciting time in Mexico’s emerging wine industry and wine culture and I’m happy to be a part of this new phenomena.”

Vinifera is open every day from 11 am to midnight, except on Sundays and Mondays. when they close at 10 p.m. Their kitchen features a small “tapas” menu with selections of local artisan cheeses, ham, olives, bread and olive oils ranging in prices from $5-7 usd. Wine is sold by the glass with fifteen selections available each month from $5-$8-$10 usd. In addition, they sell over 180 wines in the bottle from the wineries and winemakers of Baja California Norte ranging in price from $5 usd to $200 usd. On Friday nights wine enthusiasts are blessed with live jazz and other regional music presentations. Tuesday nights one can experience an international wine tasting event with six weeks of the same varietal for $200 pesos. Or on Thursday nights you can enjoy wine and wine-related movies. Vinifera attracts a good crowd with an international mix of people of all ages and backgrounds. If you’re lucky enough to catch Juan Carlos with a “free minute” he’ll be glad to share his passion and love for Mexican wines with you. He’s busy now, but at least he’s not spending his life stuck in the maze and confusion of traffic in Mexico City, and now he’s doing what he loves to do right here in Ensenada.

Steve Dryden is a wine, food and travel writer living in Mexico’s premier wine country where he guides individual and small group wine tours and books lodging. He can be reached at: sbdryden@hotmail.com.

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