As promised, this will be my final blog post regarding our Baja adventure. Our last two days, traveling back to Tecate, where we crossed the border, included two of the most interesting and unique wine experiences I have ever encountered.
On February 23, we traveled from San Quintin to Santo Tomas, where the RVers camped right at the Santo Tomas Winery, and Bill and I bunked in a local hotel. Our wine tasting began with a trip through the actual vines in a wagon being pulled by a John Deere tractor. As we traveled, our guide, Freddy, shared the history of the vineyard and explained the wines we were going to sample. Along the way, we stopped at several points, within the vines, and tasted several wines – a Chardonnay Reserve, a Merlot, a Tempranillo, and a Barbera.
Bodegas de Santo Tomas is the oldest winery in Baja and the second oldest in all of Mexico, having been founded in 1888. Upon returning to our starting point, we were invited into their “cava,” a beautiful stone cave that originally functioned as an indoor swimming pool for the Santo Tomas family and employees. After watching a short video about the winery, we all took a place around the circumference of the cave with two glasses of wine in front of us, preparing for our “sensory wine tasting.”
Freddy turned the lights off and talked us through a breathing exercise, sharing the journey of each contributing grape. This was accompanied by dimming red and blue lights, as our guide instructed us to smell and then taste each glass and finally to combine them into one. Although Freddy spoke English, he did not have a strong grasp of the language, which took away somewhat from the overall effect. Also, a microphone – or teacher voice – would’ve enhanced the total experience. It was, however, a very unique approach, and the wine was very good.
Following the tour, we were able to purchase wine – which of course we did – to bring with us back to the States!
The following day our destination was back to the Guadalupe Valley to experience another vineyard. Bill and I were able to stay at Terra de Valle B and B, where we began our Baja adventure, so we were happy campers.
We had some time to kill before our scheduled wine tasting, so Bill and I found an interesting spot, tried a new wine and beer, and shared a marlin and cheese quesadilla! We also stopped into a recommended cheese store, Los Globos, where you could taste any cheese you’d like as well as purchase fresh bread, spreads, olive oil, and wine.
Our Sunday winery was Domecq and our guide was the very articulate and humorous Miguel. We began in the tasting room, where we sampled and learned about 4 different wines, again one white and three reds. I venture to say that these were even better than the ones we sampled at Santo Tomas. Following the tasting, Miguel guided us down to an amazing “cava” that they had just opened last year as a museum. The building alone was remarkable, but what they have done with it was unbelievable! This, too, was quite sensory, as not only did we learn about the history of the vineyard, but we also experienced various scents of different wines as well as completing what I would call a “texture simulation.”
The cellar currently holds 22,000 bottles of wine in addition to what they continue to produce in their plant. Domecq is the second largest producing vineyard in Baja next to L.A. Cetto, which was our next scheduled stop. The underground “cava” has also been developed to provide a larger space for special events such as weddings, parties and business meetings. It also includes smaller, private drinking rooms, along with a magnificent handmade tasting table.
Again we ended our experience here purchasing wine – remembering that you can indeed bring wine back to the US for “personal use” and not for resale – Not a problem!
The Domecq experience lasted longer than we thought, so by the time we got to L.A. Cetto, it was closed for the day. We had actually imbibed L.A. Cetto all month – when we weren’t drinking tequila – so we were anxious to purchase a few bottles, but hopefully we can find it in NJ!
As I mentioned, Bill and I completed our month-long vacation in a wonderful B and B, Terra del Valle – and we couldn’t have found ourselves in a more appropriately named room – Tequila 2!
Heading back to the border (a.k.a. reality) with our newfound friends the morning of February 25, we bid “adios amigos,” promised to keep in touch, only had to wait 20 minutes at the border (admiring the wall), and then we all went our separate ways!
We would highly recommend Baja Winters to anyone looking for a Baja adventure! They also offer shorter trips just focusing on wine and whales for those of you who can’t commit to an entire month! And as our wagonmasters, John and Becky, say… May the dust of Baja stick to your toes and keep calling you back!
Stay Calm and Travel On…