Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fiestas de la Vendimia 2009 (3/3)

Monday August 10th at 6:00 p.m is the second Monte Xanic “Sunset Concert.” They present works from classical repertoire, accompanied by fine cheeses and house wine in a beautiful valley setting!

Friday August 14th offers Jazz at EL Mogor winery at 5:30 p.m with house wines and Mediterranean empanadas.

Friday August 14th at 6:00 p.m. 18:00 Hrs Vinícola Viña de Liceaga, San Antonio de las Minas presents a variety of local cheeses, accompanied by house wine and music.

Friday August 14th at 6:00 p.m in Manzanilla Restaurant near the Ensenada harbor will present gourmet tapas matched with premium Viñas Pijoan wines. Popular event!

Saturday August 15th at 9:00 am is another “Winemakers Visits” held in most Valle de Guadalupe wineries where winemakers host visitors at their wineries to taste and describe their wines.

Saturday August 15th at 4:00 p.m is an event, NOT TO BE MISSED! You won’t need a bank loan to enjoy this wonderful Russian family. “Russian Memories” at Bibayoff Winery with Russian music, dancers, food and wines. All people are welcome!

Saturday August 15th at 6:00 p.m is the Malagon Family Celebration held near the village of Francisco Zarco. Horse show, live jazz and mariachi with authentic Mexican/American cuisine and large samples of all of their premium wines.

Saturday August 15th at 1 p.m come party “To the Sounds of Vinisterra” held at the winery featuring gourmet food, music along with some of Mexico’s best wine.

Sunday August 16th at 6:30 p.m is “Velada Italiana en Villa Montefiori” with Italian soirée at Villa Montefiori, opera music in the vineyard, italian cuisine (traditional italian food) wine tasting, music.

Tuesday March 18th at 6:00 p.m is my favorite event of the season! “la Noche de Cofradia en Ensenada” held this year on Tuesday August 18th at 6 p.m. This is the most reasonably priced event and exposes your palate to about 30 wineries and local culinary establishments. Held at the seaport terminal this competition matches wines with regional gourmet cuisine.

Thursday August 20th is the only FREE event held at the Park in Ejido El Porvenir at 4:00 p.m with music, local food and wine.

Friday August 21st at 7:00 p.m is a presentation of artisan wine, olive oils, and other handcrafted products. Held at the “La Escuelita” wine school in El Provenir.

Friday August 21st at 7:30 p.m is “Mexican Delights at Valmar Winery” in Ensenada. 19:30 Hrs. Deluxe dinner with a great variety of delicious Mexican dishes, paired with the best house wines, along with music and dancing.

Saturday August 22nd at 9:00 am is the final “Winemaker Visits” where winemakers host visitors at their wineries to taste and describe their wines.

Saturday August 22nd beginning at 2:00 p.m is the FAMOUS Santo Tomas Winery Street Fair with numerous artistic expressions, games, music, food and house wines.
19:00 Hrs.

Sunday August 23rd is the Grand Finale at 12:00 Noon with 18th annual “Paella Cooking Contest.” Held at Rancho San Gabriel, San Antonio de las Minas, Ensenada. A very popular (always sold out well in advance) country contest for cooking rice paella style, sampling of paella and wines, dancing and music.

Have fun, be safe, don’t drink and drive, hydrate during the events! It’s probably a great idea to get on the waiting list ASAP, as tickets sales are usually chaotic, confusing and presented at the last possible second before the events.

Steve Dryden is a wine, food and travel writer living in Valle de Guadalupe where he guides private and small group wine tours. He also books lodging and can be reached at: or

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fiestas de la Vendimia 2009 (2/3)

Here’s the main schedule of events for August 2009.

Friday August 7th at 7 p.m. is the 19th “Wine Experience” held at Centro Cívico y Cultural Riviera del Pacifico. This fun “opening event” is a presentation of the wines, labels and vintages of Baja California, music, food tasting and art.

Saturday August 8th at 9 am is XVII Concurso International “Ensenada Tierra del Vino wine competition held in the Hotel Coral y Marina. Professional judges select the best wines in the competition.

Saturday August 8th at 8:30 Hrs is a “Golf Tournament” at Real del Mar Golf Club sponsored by Hotel Calafia y Vinos Bibayoff. Happy golfers play “Four man scramble" with wine tasting at each hole, exquisite food sampling, followed by an award dinner with prizes, raffle & auction.

Saturday August 8th at 9:00 am is an informative and educational venue called “Winemakers Visits” held ay most regional wineries where winemakers host visitors at their wineries to taste and describe their wines. There are three of these events.

Saturday August 8th at 6:30 p.m is a “Gala Dinner” held at Vinícola Adobe Guadalupe featuring a formal dinner and wine auction for the rich and famous.

Sunday August 9th with an early start of 7:00 am, lucky guests can ride on horseback for 20K with wine tastings at wineries in the Guadalupe Valley and lunch.

Sunday August 9th at 1:30 p.m is the annual “Country Lunch” at Viña de Liceaga Winery, San Antonio de las Minas featuring baked lamb, house wine and live music.

Sunday August 9th at 6:00 p.m is the popular Monte Xanic “Sunset Concert.” They present works from classical repertoire, accompanied by fine cheeses and house wine in a beautiful valley setting!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mexican wine regions: Queretaro

Querétaro: One of Mexico’s most prosperous wine growing areas, Querétaro’s vineyards occupy altitudes around 6,500 feet. Sparkling wines make up the bulk of its output, but sauvignon blanc, St. Emilion, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir are also produced here.

This is the home of the Spanish vintner Freixenet’s Mexican operation. Freixenet is best-known for its dry sparkling wines (vinos espumosos, or “frothy wines”) in satiny black bottles, produced by the champenoise method of fermentation discovered by Dom Perignon in the 17th century. The winery also produces still wines, mostly red blends. Cavas Freixenet de Mexico, north of Tequisquiapan, offers guided tours, classes, concerts and festivals throughout the year.

The other major wine estate is Compania Vinicola Los Eucaliptos in Ezequiel Montes. Vinos Hidalgo La Madrilena is a local operation with wineries in the San Juan del Río region.

More information about this (an other) Mexican wineregion(s) here:

Fiestas de la Vendimia 2009 (1/3)

by Steve Dryden

Every summer the wineries of Baja California Norte pool their talents and wares to host an amazing series of wine, food, music and cultural events throughout the region. Most of these festivities take place in Ensenada or Valle de Guadalupe with a few events in other areas. You may need to get a bank loan to attend some of the events, but if you’re selective and practical you can enjoy some great wine, food and entertainment. The Vendimia 2009 takes place from August 7th and continues to August 23rd. Summer temperatures during these events usually hovers around 100 degrees F, so pace yourselves and hydrate with fresh water as needed. Due to the abundance of wine, it is suggested that you book lodging (ASAP) and spend the night near the location of the event. Hotel Plaza Fatima, Hacienda Guadalupe and Rancho Malagon B&B still have some rooms for the event season, if you act now.

Two of my favorites events include “Noche de Cofradia en Ensenada” held this year on Tuesday August 18th at 6 p.m. This is the most reasonably priced event and exposes your palate to about 30 wineries and local culinary establishments. Held at the seaport terminal this competition matches wines with regional gourmet cuisine. Another great day can be enjoyed Saturday August 15 at 6 p.m during the annual “Malagon Family Celebration” held near Francisco Zarco on a 500 acre ranch, vineyard, winery, B&B. This family orientated event includes a horse show, live jazz and mariachi, an abundance of authentic Mexican/American food, and large samples of all their wines. In addition, their B&B is available for lodging during many of the other events, if you book early!

To be continued ...

Drug War, Economy Hurting Tourism in Mexico's Wine Country -

Drug War, Economy Hurting Tourism in Mexico's Wine Country -

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A toast to Mexico's undiscovered wine country


One of the earliest casualties of the drug-related violence in northern Baja California has been its wine valleys, particularly the Guadalupe Valley, northeast of Ensenada, which has single-handedly put the country on the wine connoisseur's map and earned the moniker, "Mexico's Napa Valley." Monte Xanic, Santo Tomas and L.A. Cetto are among its best-known brands.

Mind you, we have heard from legions of oenophiles who have made tasting trips in the past year without encountering any of the types of problems currently grabbing headlines, but with Baja Norte officially outside the comfort zone, this might be just the time to sample Mexico's undiscovered wine regions.

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Looking for an old Mexican wine "Vina veinticinco"


I was wondering if you could help me locate an old bottle of wine that was made in Mexico named "vina veinticinco"? This is my mother's favorite bottle of wine, but it has been many years since she has been able to locate the wine. If you could provide me with any information that may lead me to purchasing a few bottles it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much,
Juan Carlos

No Mexican wines in neighbouring United States ?


I work for Robert Whitley, who in addition to being a wine writer and publisher of acts as Director for several international wine competitions. During the recent San Diego competition (March 21;, I noticed that no wines from Mexico were entered. From all over the US, and from Europe, South Africa, Chile, Australian, even Korea, but none from our neighbor Mexico.

We are now working on the Critics Challenge competition, which will be held on May 23 and 24. The website is What makes it unique is all the judges are professional wine writers and reviewers. This might be a great way for Mexican wineries to expose their wines to these writers, as well as to the public through the medals they would win. Results of the competition will also be posted on

Could you please pass on information about the competition to wineries you feel might benefit, or suggest ways in which I might do that? I would appreciate any assistance. It just seems a shame that the fact that fine wine is being made in Mexico is completely unknown to most wine lovers in the U.S.

Thanks in advance for any help,

Felicia Forbes

Competition Coordinator and Assistant to Director Robert Whitley
Critics Challenge International Wine Competition

May 23 and 24, 2009

Entry forms and fees:
1034 W. Quince Street ,
San Diego , CA 92103

Or fax to 619-294-4878,
Or email to

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ensenada's newest wine tasting room (3/3)

The “Green Room” includes one queen size bed, private bathroom and balcony with a sitting area offering a majestic view of the mountain range. The “Blue Room” includes two full size beds with one private bathroom and balcony with sitting area featuring a view of the mountain range. Many guests rent the entire complex to host family, friends and clients. The ranch reflects the traditional values cherished by the Malagon family and showcases their respect for nature, conservation, preservation of the land and the Baja California ranch lifestyle. And, somehow their wines seem to capture that same essence via the expression of the old vine roots that are deeply woven into the native soil of the valley, transforming mature fruit into rich, complex wine that speaks volumes about the strength and determination of the abandoned vines, who waited patiently for decades for someone to discover their palate pleasing treasures.

Rancho Malagon or Viñedos Malagon is a “hidden jewel” located in the village of Francisco Zarco in Valle de Guadalupe. This family owned 400 acre ranch, vineyards, winery, bed and breakfast gets a gold medal for hospitality, first class service, romantic ambiance, hidden location, and for creating fantastic wine. Until recently this amazing private estate has been “a little known haven” for selected friends and members of the Malagon family whose relatives have owned the property for several generations. One would never have guessed that such a special ranch exists behind the village of Francisco Zarco where lucky guests experience a stunning setting with valley and mountain views, an abundance of natural beauty, blessed with wealth of peace and tranquility. The ranch was originally a Russian homestead established in the early 1900’s by Molokan settlers. In 2000 Jose Luis Malagon purchased the ranch from relatives with the vision of creating premium wine crafted from old vine Grenache grapes planted over fifty years ago on his property. Over the years, with the help of his wife, children and friends they’ve have created the perfect Baja California retreat.

Next time you’re in downtown Ensenada, stop by and sample wines from two premium wineries of Baja California Norte. The tasting room will be featuring guest wineries each month as well as hosting special events. Guests from the cruise ships who purchase a case of wine will be offered free transportation to the port, and local residents can use their free taxi shuttle if they live within five miles of the tasting room. This summer Roganto wines will be available for tasting and purchase at the Rancho Malagon tasting room in Valle De Guadalupe, and Malagon will be hosting another unique food and wine event this summer during Fiestas de la Vendimia in August.

Steve Dryden is a wine, food and travel writer who lives in Mexico’s wine country where he guides private and small group wine tours. He can be reached at: or

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ensenada's newest wine tasting room (2/3)

Nathan Malagon of Viñedos Malagon Winery near Francisco Zarco in Valle de Guadalupe is the new partner of the Roganto-Malagon Tasting Room. According to Nathan, “both Roganto and I wanted to provide visitors and local wine lovers in Ensenada an opportunity to explore our wines. Due to the fact that our wineries are located in remote areas, we’ve teamed up to bring our wines directly to wine consumers with our winery pricing. In addition, by May 1st, we plan to be open on Friday and Saturday night until midnight, so on weekends we’ll transform into a wine bar and lounge.” Renowned Orange County Peruvian Chef Ennio will be offering his famous Peruvian-Italian-Mexican fusion entrees on Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 5 p.m. Currently the tasting room offers FREE paella on Wednesdays with the purchase of a glass of wine, and cheese cake topped Malagon’s lemoncetto at $3 per slice ~ everyday.

Ennio Rocca has been a leading Chef in the Laguna Beach and Newport Beach area for over twenty-five years. He’s originally from Peru and is in the process of transitioning from Laguna to become a contributor to Ensenada’s “culinary renaissance.” He’s well known for his style of cooking that combines a blend of Peru, Italy and Mexico cuisine, seasoning and flavors into culinary delights that pair well with premium wines.

Viñedos Malagon is known for growing quality “old vine Grenache.” In fact, one of their three premium wines won a gold this year in the 16th International Wine Competition in Ensenada and their 2006 Reserva received 92 points from Wine Spectator magazine. One of the first winemakers in Valle de Guadalupe to explore the old vine Grenache grapes at Rancho Malagon was Jose Luis Durant, Chilean oenologist, then the winemaker for Pedro Domecq.

I suggest that you don’t drive this route at night or when highly intoxicated, as it is a narrow, winding, one lane route, often occupied by slow-moving trucks. Here in San Antonio de las Minas the wine country begins and extends along Highway 3 for about fourteen miles. Scattered about the valley and foothills are about twenty-five wineries, several restaurants with great food, specialty shops, art galleries, gourmet coffee and lodging. And, you’ll find wonderful people!

At this point I’m going to share with readers my favorite and most popular day tour to the wine country. Some of the wineries are “user friendly” while others don’t focus on tasting room sales or hospitality. Some of the wineries sell out their inventory each season, market their wines to commercial distributors and could care less if you visit their wineries or sample their wine. I’m going to save you time and frustration by sending you to my friends ~ who love sharing their wines and hospitality. You’ll meet some great folks! You need to know that all valley restaurants and food establishments are closed by 6 p.m. This tour does focus on the region of San Antonio de las Minas and you’ll have to double back some, but this is an easy tour for newcomers as well as experts. If you are an early bird (9 am) Casa Vieja opens at 9 am, and you can adjust your tour as needed.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ensenada's newest wine tasting room (1/3)

As of April 1, 2009 Roganto and Malagon wineries have formed a partnership with their wine tasting room and wine bar in the Adobe Shopping Mall on First Street in Ensenada. This cozy wine outlet is located inside a modern shopping plaza originally designed for the cruise ship guests who walk along Lopez Mateos (First) with an additional side entrance at #69 Gastelum. Adobe Shopping Plaza is centered between Ruiz and Gastelum at #490 First and features thirty foot tall entrances and ceilings, modern sculptures, artwork, custom jewelry, and specialty gift items. The wine tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 p.m - providing guests and local wine lovers an opportunity to purchase wine from two of Mexico’s top wineries at winery prices with no middleman interference.

Roganto Wine or Vides y Vinos Californianos S.P.R. de R.L is considered by experts to be one of the top wineries in Mexico. Their 2005 Tempranillo has been awarded top reviews by international wine experts and judges. Currently only about 100 cases of the wine are available for purchase by the taste, glass or bottle from the new wine tasting room. This 2005 Tempranillo was aged in a combination of various new oak barrels for ten months and is a prime example of a top quality Mexican wine. In addition, wine lovers can purchase the 2005 blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon or the superb 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. About 80 cases of the Temp/Cab blend (aged in new oak for twenty-two months) remain with only and 100 cases of the Cabernet (twenty-two months in new French oak) available by the taste, glass or bottle.

The Roganto winery is technically a boutique winery in size and production, but he wines are actually artisan in quality. Their state-of-the-art winery facility is a real hidden treasure of Ensenada located behind a well drilling and commercial pump business - just a few miles south of downtown on Reforma Ave. Two wine enthusiasts, Rogelio Sanchez and Antonio Luis Escalante have teamed up to create the remarkable Roganto wines. One of their newest premium wines is an incredible 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not a traditional herbal and grassy tasting wine typical of this varietal, but an elegant wine with tropical fruit, guava, pineapple and pear on the nose, refreshing, crisp, well balanced and delicious. The production was limited to 550 cases, fermentation in stainless steel tanks _ with no oak barrel aging. These two dedicated local winemakers also create two distinct Chardonnay wines, one with stainless steel fermentation and no oak barrel aging ($22) and another excellent Chardonnay aged in new French oak for twenty-two months which will be featured soon in the new tasting room.

To be continued soon ...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wine and food: Mexican wines

Hey guys, sorry for getting back so late with another wine blog. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the wine tasting of some of northern Mexico’s wines. I found a couple excellent choices. A chenin blanc, and a petit syrah.The first being a Chenin Blanc is from the winery of Santo Tomas. A refreshing wine with citrus notes, a refreshing bouquet, and pale wheat in colour. The taste is refreshing on the palate, and posesses a delightful finish. This wine would be great pared with Coquilles St. Jacques, any light white fish.

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Wines of Mexico Fest, in Vancouver (Canada)

I've been intrigued by Mexican wines ever since I travelled to Mexico City last May. I haven't tasted very many -- only two in fact: this tasty Chenin Columbard from Monte Xanic, and a delicious Viognier from Bodega de Santo Tomas. I had the Viognier at fabulous La Hacienda de Los Morales, an 18th Century mansion in tony Polanco.

Since then I've been dying to explore more Mexican wines. So imagine my disappointment -- I have to miss the Wines of Mexico Fest. The fest is this Thursday, April 2 at the Metropolitan Hotel. Tickets are $35 through and can be purchased through the website.

Mexican wines are practically unknown in Canada, but the Fest will no doubt include some very rare, interesting, quality wines. Don't miss this opportunity to taste where barely any Canadian has tasted before!!


Mexican Wine: Adventures in Wine Tasting

It was quite a challenge to find some nice Mexican wines while I was in Mazatlan, but it can be done. It does take a bit of work and you will probably taste a few incredibly bad wines. You have to approach it as an adventure in wine tasting but you are probably on vacation and should be open to new experiences.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Wines of Mexico Fest

The 2009 Wines of Mexico Fest will take place on Thursday, April 2 2009 at the Metropolitan Hotel. The tasting will give Vancouverites an opportunity to try some of the best wines from our sunny southern neighbour. Tickets are only $35 through

Mexico has been producing wine for more than five centuries. In recent years the quality of Mexican wines has attracted international attention, and Mexico has won medals in many prestigious international competitions including the Challenge International de Vin, California’s Orange County Fair, and the Selections Mondiales. The Wines of Mexico Fest in Vancouver will showcase wines from select Mexican wineries, including Monte Xanic, Bodegas de Santo Tomas, and L.A. Cetto.

The Monte Xanic winery prides itself on being a pioneer in winemaking process and technology. It is located in Mexico’s most prestigious winemaking region, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California. The winery’s methods produce premium and ultra-premium wines that perfectly express the terroir of this exquisite area.

Bodegas de Santo Tomas, founded in 1888, has been producing wine longer than any other winery currently operating in Mexico. The first vines in the Santo Thomas Valley were planted by Dominican missionaries who settled the Baja area around 1697. Bodegas de Santo Tomas is well-known on the international stage for its high-quality wines.

L.A. Cetto winery, located in the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California, currently exports to over 25 countries. With 75 years of winemaking tradition behind them, they are one of the largest wineries in Mexico and have won a total of 132 international awards for their wines.