Travel to Mexico not for tequila, but for wine!
When we think of wine production, it’s easy to conjure up images of sun-kissed vineyards in the north of Italy or south of France, but there are several well-kept secrets every wine enthusiast or casual admirer should visit—Mexico sitting at the top of that list.
Mexico has grown its own grapes and created some incredible wines ever since the 16th century when the Spanish arrived. With them they brought succulent grapes from Spain, mixing them with the spicier, native grapes of Mexico. Today, Mexico produces wines on par with—or better than—some of the world’s best.
While you can import a wine, there really is no better way to enjoy the taste of a fruity red or a zestful white than to visit the wineries where they have been produced, sometimes for centuries. So when in Mexico, where should you go to experience local hospitality, see the magic of winemaking happen, and, of course, sample a glass or three along the way? Here’s TaZa‘s list of the best wineries to visit when in Mexico.
Guadalupe Valley – Home of Mexico’s Finest Wines
Since the 18th century, most of Mexico’s wines have come from Baja California. While some great bottles can be found in La Laguna and other areas, it is Baja that produces wines most readily accepted by the palates of European and American wine enthusiasts. Baja’s cool climate results in wines that are much subtler than the spicy flavors common in warmer regions of Mexico.
More specifically, it is in Baja’s Guadalupe Valley that you will find many of Mexico’s best wines, and hence plenty of great vineyards and wineries worth a visit. A staggering 90% of all Mexican wines come from the valley, making it possible for a wine enthusiast to have a fantastic adventure exploring numerous vineyards.
Let’s now take a look at 5 of the best wineries in Guadalupe Valley.
Vinos Pijoan: Intimate and Enchanting
If you’re on a tour of the region, this little gem is the perfect start to your journey. Unlike some of the other wineries in Guadalupe, Vinos Pijoan is small, but don’t let that fool you – it produces some incredible wines.
Located just 70 miles south of the Mexico-US border and a 30 minute drive from the city of Ensenada (a great place to begin your wine journey), you’ll find seven exquisite wines produced at Vinos Pijoan. Much like you will find in northern California, Vinos Pijoan makes Chenin Blanc combined with Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel and Viognier grapes to create a light, aromatic white wine in the form of Sil. You will also find some excellent Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Paulinha, a fruity, young wine that combines Merlot and Zinfandel.
What sets Vinos Pijoan apart from many of the surrounding wineries is the dedication invested in producing subtle tones, tastes and bouquets perfect to enjoy with a meal. This winery may only have a small, humble tasting room, but it is in such intimate settings that one often discovers the best wines.
Vena Cava: Something a Little Eccentric!
The Vena Cava Winery produces some excellent wines, but the design and quirky appearance are what make it a must-visit. The upturned hulls of two large boats make the roof of the main Vena Cava building creating a unique visual style for the winery. This style is something anyone fond of interesting aesthetics should experience firsthand.
The concept behind the Vena Cava’s winemaking is simple: the best wines are made from the best grapes. However, this doesn’t mean the best grapes have to create the most overpowering flavors; Vena Cava wines are subtle in taste and perfect to complement a meal rather than to overwhelm taste buds.
Vena Cava’s tasty Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aged for twelve months in oak barrels to produce a complex body and distinct taste of rich berries. If you’re looking for a stronger, fruity kick, try their unique blend of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon.
When eating seafood, Vena Cava’s Tempranillo works best. Follow that up with a rich, chocolate dessert and a bottle of Reserva.
The winery welcomes visitors and a tasting session can be booked for as little as $9 per person.
Vinos Tres Valles: An Ecological Treat
Vinos Tres Valles is the perfect place for you to experience a rustic, natural setting and local wines. As the name suggests, Vinos Tres Valles (translation: Three Valleys Wine) grows and harvests its grapes from three nearby valleys to produce young and powerful wines perfect for every season. Promoting natural winemaking techniques and a love for the local environment, Vinos Tres Valles has a unique identity. As stated on their website, Vinos Tres Valles winery is based on “honesty, simplicity and respect of the natural ambiance”. Just 20 kilometres from Ensenada, this winery is sure to impress even the most experienced wine connoisseur.
Vinos Tres Valles produces five wines: four red and one white. Their oldest wine may be quite young in wine years, but Kojaa 2010 is barrel-aged for 10 months to create a robust flavor with a long finish. Three years later, Vinos Tres Valles created their signature white wine: Jala 2013. Jala is the perfect blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and French Colombard, and although it has an evident grapefruit bouquet, it is much subtler than one might expect.
Guided visits are available for those who book ahead of time.
Vinisterra: Friendly, Welcoming Wines and Hosts
If you’re looking for a place that prides itself on taking care of its guests, then look no further than Vinisterra. Great hospitality is no doubt a part of the complete experience, but it would be nothing without great wine. Luckily, Vinisterra has that as well.
Maintaining classic winemaking techniques, Vinisterra handpicks all the grapes used in the production of their 2,000 or so cases of wine a year. They have three main wine types: Domino, Pedregal, and Macouzet.
The Vinisterra Domino wines come in red, rose and white, all fruity, fun and perfect for parties or intimate gatherings. Macouzet wines are either a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot mix or a Tempranillo. Out of all the wines on offer by Vinisterra, these are the most representative of the land the grapes are grown in. For the finest of wines, try the Pedregal wine; one that has earned Vinisterra a premium reputation in a small amount of time.
Tastings are open to the public from 11A.M. until 5P.M. on the weekends. If you visit during the week, you will have to make an appointment.
Monte Xanic: A Real Find
In 2014, Monte Xanic, one of the largest wine makers in the Baja region, opened its new winery offering everything a wine lover could want and more. Less cozy and more mass-market, nonetheless Monte Xanic has managed to maintain a friendly feel to its winery while offering visitors an insightful glimpse into the making of some of Mexico’s most popular wines.
Take a guied tour around the vineyards and visit the tasting room to take in not only the amazing wine, but also the beautiful view. Learn how the grapes are harvested and fermented before you gain access to the awe-inspiring wine cellar. Here you will see an impressive private collection of all the different vintages Monte Xanic has produced throughout the years. Enjoy a glass of wine and take in the breathtaking landscape.
Monte Xanic produces over 50,000 cases of wine every year. All of these are from their Gran Ricardo, Monte Xanic, Calixa, and Ediciones Limtadas lines. From buttery to crisp wines, you’ll find it all in their collection of 14 distinct wines.
Visiting the Monte Xanic winery is a phenomenal experience, but it is popular so you should try and book in advance to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
Mexico has Much to Offer
This list will help you plan a fantastic wine vacation in beautiful Mexico.
Think we missed any? There is a great selection of wineries available in Mexico, and we’d love to hear your must-visit wineries in Mexico. Please leave your experiences and comments below.