On Friday night I attended the kickoff party for the 22nd annual Fiestas de la Vendimia at the Riviera Casino in downtown Ensenada which runs from August 3rd through the 19th. Around 3,000 attendees sipped Mexican wines from the Valle de Guadalupe, sampled the finest Baja cuisine from various booths featuring star chefs, and loudly mingled under the Ensenada night's sky. Former presidente Felipe Calderon even came in for this one, to attend the official opening of the new Wine Museum, and to sip a few glasses of vino mexicano at the Muestra del Vino put on by Comite ProVino.
I was talking with an LA chef about the event and he replied, "Don't you think that's too many events, and just a little too much?" (the festival boasts 49 events in over 2 weeks). I've attended Vendimia events for the last 6 years, but going to the Muestra del Vino finally showed me what this festival is truly about. It's Coachella for Baja Californios, an all-out, no-holds-barred bacchanalia where Baja chefs, winemakers, and their supporters cook, eat, drink wine, and party 'til the dawn--restaurants stay open until five in the morning to keep the spirit of Vendimias alive. For the locals, Vendimias is far too short. Here's what you can expect if you're ready to imbibe, Baja California style.
|Muestra del Vino, Fiestas de la Vendima 2012|
Muestra del Vino
I received a promising map from ProVino listing all the wineries in colored zones around the casino, but all pragmatics float away like angel's share from a wine cask once you get to the first wine station. This is a party para pistear--there will be time to savor wines and get to know the producers at the individual events.
|Chef Drew Deckman at Muestra del Vino, Fiestas de la Vendimia 2012|
The food was provided by the who's who of Baja chefs: Drew Deckman of Deckman's en el Mogor, Chef Benito Molina's Manzanilla, Chef Javier Plascencia's new wine country restaurant Finca Altozano, Muelle Tres, Asao, Chef Diego Hernandez's Corazon de Tierra, Boules, and many more.
|Wines from Paralelo and Quatro Quatros, Fiestas de la Vendimia 2012|
There were 46 labels present at this wine drinking event, and I did my best to seek out wines I hadn't tried, but mostly I took in the sights. Baja Californios are decked out for these gatherings, where you will see a well-heeled crowd and an endless parade of beautiful young women at every Vendimia celebration.