Wednesday, January 09, 2013

My Biased Guide To Mexican Wine Country

Explanation and disclaimer: this is written at the very beginning of 2012, and is current to that time. Be advised that things can change rapidly around these parts.
Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe compose what I think is the premier wine country destination for Southern Californians, but finding an initial handhold in the area can be a little tricky: much of the best stuff is hard to get to and requires a little upfront knowledge. The flip side of this coin is that the region is small and the people are very familial, so it’s easy to personally meet a lot of the people driving the gastronomy and culture.
The Origin Story
First, a little background. The Valle de Guadalupe and surrounding areas are one of the oldest wine growing regions in California. However, its current era is considered to have started in the late 80′s, when winemaker Hugo D’Acosta came to Santo Tomas winery with a program to develop the region via wine, food and culture. He brought chef Benito Molina from Mexico City to helm Santo Tomas’ restaurant in downtown Ensenada, and Hugo’s brother, architect Alejandro D’Acosta, designed the new Santo Tomas winery faciltiy south of town.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Wines Down Mexico Way

In both the Northern and Southern hemispheres the area from 30° and 50° latitude is generally held to represent the outer limits for winegrowing; to the north (in the Northern hemisphere) the growing season becomes too short and cold, while the more equatorial climate is generally too tropical. Most of Mexico lies south of the 30th parallel, but when Cortés defeated the Aztecs in 1521 he and his conquistadors exhausted their supply of wine in celebration, he wasn’t about to let this geographical detail end the party – so one of his first acts was to encourage the planting of vineyards in the land that was soon to be named New Spain. By 1524 he had put in place a law which required every recipient ofVineyards at Casa Madero
a land grant to plant 1,000 vine shoots each year until they reached 5,000 vines. The Catholic Church was also active as it needed wine for the sacraments, and it was they who introduced the Mission grape to Mexico. This varietal grew with only minimal tending and adapted well to the hot, dry environment. It was also widely planted in what is now California, and made appearances in Chile and Argentina where it became known as País and Criolla, respectively. By the end of the 16th century the oldest surviving winery in the New World had been established, operating today as Casa Madero, in the Parras Valley.

By Jim Clark

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Source: Star Chefs

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Mexican Wine Revolution

Cross the border from San Diego and you’re in Baja California, Mexico, home to a historic wine region that’s reinventing itself via boutique wines, top-flight restaurants and attractive lodging options.

One hundred years ago, Francisco Madero, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata led the Mexican Revolution. Today, Mexico is going through a different sort of upheaval, a wine revolution in which small producers largely concentrated in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley are charging ahead with the declaration, “Viva El Vino!”
The major force in this movement, the most significant evolution in Mexican wine since Spaniards first planted vineyards at the Santo Tomás Mission in 1791, has been Hugo D’Acosta. An internationally trained winemaker who came to Baja from mainland Mexico in the late 1980s to work at the large Santo Tomás winery, D’Acosta soon began to explore side projects in the Guadalupe Valley, including his family’s winery, Casa de Piedra.

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Source: Wine Enthusiast