Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Spring Wine Tour for 2009 (3/4)

Baja Wine Country News
by Steve Dryden

For those who missed their morning cup of coffee, you can still “wake-up” with their potent distilled Grappa. called Aqua de Vid. ViƱa de Liceaga. But, don’t try driving, dancing or walking after a sip or two! Grappa is a distilled spirit without color made from black grape pomage, fermented, gently pressed from several wine varieties, and aged for three years in new American oak. Their Grappa creates a powerful clear beverage that will awaken even the most laid back individuals.

Now return to Highway 3 and turn left, back towards Ensenada, drive 1/2 mile and turn right into the drive way of Casa Vieja Wine Bar and gift shop. This new addition to the Baja California wine culture is a cozy and remarkable business hosted by an American/Mexican family with deep roots in the valley. Here everyone is fun, entertaining, speaks English, Spanish and are user-friendly. This historical adobe home, olive orchard, “old vine” vineyard and ranch was established in the early 1850’s.

Today, their relaxing and tranquil ranch features a wine bar, art and crafts gallery, picnic area and restrooms. Several artisan (homemade) wines from the region are offered by the glass or bottle. The atmosphere is a country setting where individuals and families can relax and enjoy the natural surroundings with friendly and hospitable hosts. According to the owners, Humberto and Colleen Toscano, “we wanted to create an environment where guests can feel at home, relax, walk around the ranch, vineyard and orchard, reunite with family, friends, nature, and enjoy the country life in San Antonio de las Minas.” La Casa Vieja is open daily (except Monday) from 9 am until sunset.

Now if you’re ready for the best lunch in the valley, leave Casa Vieja, turn right, drive 1/2 mile back towards Ensenada and the Los Globos creamery, then turn left at the large Corona Beer sign in San Antonio. This is the only paved road there (Av. Jauarz) follow it towards the hills, and turn left at the third stop sign where you’ll see a sign/arrow for La Hacienda Restaurant. Follow this bumpy dirt road for 500 yards, across the river and make the first right into their driveway. Here you’ll find outdoor dining among a retail plant nursery with a nice selection of fresh seafood, traditional Mexican cuisine, offered with good service and a reasonable price. They have a dynamic brunch and lunch buffet on Sundays!

After lunch, drive back up the dirt road to the stop sign and make a left. Go to the fist stop sign, go straight, pass the school and turn left when the pavement ends and turns into a dirt road. Follow it to the first stop sign, turn right for 100 yards and enter Vinisterra Winery. You’ll be amazed with the wine! Open Weds - Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Hosted by knowledgeable winery staff who provide hospitality and excellent samples of wine. Their newly released Macouzet 2005 Tempranillo is an outstanding wine aged 40 percent in new American oak with almost two years bottle aging. Dark ruby color with aromas of black cherry, vanilla and a hint of oak. Flavors of black stone fruit mix with good mid-mouth mild tannins, good acidity with a balanced finish. Good quality wine, a bargain at under $30. per bottle.

To be continued ...

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