The Valle de Guadalupe was hotter than ever this summer, especially in the month of August during the annual Vendimia (run by Provino), or wine harvest festival. This is one part of Baja that isn't sweating the lack of U.S. tourists at all, because you simply couldn't get a room the entire month--everything is booked--I drove around to 4 hotels in Ensenada the first weekend of the Vendimia before finding a room for one night--with hourly rates!. A woman at my table attending Corazon de Tierra's G-8 dinner had to get a room all the way back at La Fonda in La Mision, 30 minutes away, down a dark winding country highway.
Chilangos, tapatios, regios and the local elite loaded with cash and an appetite for all things Baja--not to mention THE best chefs in Mexico--are pouring into Mexico's premier wine country to throw dollars in the air like rock stars, snatching up any and every event--no questions asked. Anybody got tickets for...sorry, it's sold out! 3 weeks and 41 events later, we are stuffed, glowing, hungover, and have had to toss a few wine stained shirts and blouses. Next year will be even bigger, so, here's what happened while you[tourists] were away.
|Laura and Maribel Villareal at EMEVE|
The Vendimias has three main types of events: gala dinners at wineries, grand tasting events, and chef dinners with wine pairings. All the Baja chefs are involved in these dinners, as are the top chefs in Mexico. Many of the events are hallmarks of the Vendimias, like the paella contest, the Noche de Cofradia, and Jazz en el Mogor.
For fresas, it's the big disco party at L.A. Cetto for tacos, Earth Wind and Fire on the DJ console, and enough wine to make a pair of cuates argue until both have been properly splashed with red wine. "Ai wey, no mames!"
Your best bet is the chef dinners and winery events, preferably, a winery that you like, and could drink it all night long, because you will--this is a party, really.
|EMEVE winery, Vendimias 2012|
EMEVE throws a relaxing affair at their beautiful estate surrounded by their vineyards and warm hospitality from Laura Villareal (winery manager), and her French-trained chef sister, Maribel Villareal--wine are made by enologist Reynaldo Rodriguez, who has an affinity for malbec.
|Las Nubes, 2012|
At Las Nubes you can expect a gala event in every sense of the word, with every detail attended by winemaker Victor Segura at perhaps one of the most charming wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe. The wines are excellent, and Chef Javier Plascencia is usually in the kitchen tent pairing his unique brand of Baja cuisine with Segura' s kuiiy(Savignon blanc and Chardonnay), Jaak (rose), and Cumulus ( grenache, tempranillo, and carignan).