Vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe

Vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe. Photo by Raul Vega.

The New World of Wine

Today, Baja California is incontestably the major wine region of Mexico.  Located northeast of Ensenada in the Mexican state of Baja California, the Valle de Guadalupe produces the majority of Mexican wine—more than 90% of Mexican wine, in fact, comes from this area.

Who would have thought that this inhospitable desert could be turned into farmland?  The colonizers of New Spain consumed wine as if it were an essential nutrient to their diet.  The wine of old Europe did not withstand the long voyage to the New World, and thus there was no option but to produce the wine here in Mexico.  The missionaries did the same thing, taking advantage of the pretext of “civilization” to exploit indigenous labor.  We are forever indebted to Ugarte, who was able to create the first vineyard from provisions he brought from Sonoma and the dam he built to water the plantation.  The birth of this New World wine occurred in 1703, at the Jesuita de San Javier Mission.

After the secularization of the missions in 1833 the vineyards were distributed among retired soldiers.  From this followed an interminable series of property-owners during which time certain vineyards were not properly cared for.  In 1907, a real development of viticulture began in the Valle de Guadalupe with the arrival of the Russian colonizers called Los Molocanes.

So far away, yet so similar

To study the composition of the soil, a special method of landscape mapping is used: The soil provides the support for the plant and the plant is a reflection of the soil.  Tell me which plants you see and I will tell you what kind of soil is under foot.

To observe the flora of the Valle de Guadalupe is to walk among oaks, pines, cedar, cacti, and thorny bushes.  The vegetation, the fragrance, and the climate…all is reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea, an area well known for its aptitude and potential for the production of wine vineyards.  Thus, one is not surprised to find quality vineyards in the Valle de Guadalupe.

At an altitude of 350 meters (1148 feet) that encompasses vastly varying topography, the Valle de Guadalupe is home to great diversity in the soil.  The land is sandy and sometimes rocky, with great variation in the surface.  On the ridges one encounters granite of brown and red clay while the valley is composed of silt-clay, which is much deeper and logically more fertile.  Running perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean, the valley enjoys a fresh ocean breeze that contributes to the climate.  This breeze is the result of the cold Californian Current which originates in Alaska and stretches the entire Pacific coast of the United States and Mexican California.

Some of the most popular wineries of the Valle de Guadalupe are Adobe de Guadalupe, Santo Tomas, Torres Alegre (Cru Garage), Casa de Piedra, Enzo (Sinergi-VT), Monte Xanic, Equua (Vineyards Malagon).