Wineries within Ensenada City Limits
Bodegas De Santo Tomas
Baja’s oldest winery
with Restaurant & Café, Cultural Center, & Gourmet Shop. Daily tours and
wine tasting at 11am, 1pm & 3pm. Av. Miramar #666, Ensenada.
Free tours and wine
tasting by appointment. Calle Ambar #810 & Riveroll, Ensenada.
Wineries outside Ensenada City Limits
Free tours and wine
tasting Mon-Fri 10am-2pm, Sat. 10am-noon; Large groups by appointment.
Located in Francisco Zarco, Valle de Guadalupe, just off Highway 3 to
One of Mexico’s oldest
Wine Makers. Guided Tours & tasting, sales of Wines & Brandies. Mon-Fri
10am-4pm, Sat. 10am-1:30pm. Located in Valle de Guadalupe at Km. 73 on
Highway 3 to Tecate.
Free tours & tasting of
Wines, Coolers, Brandy, & Tequila; lunch and picnic area. Open daily
10am-4pm. Located in Valle de Guadalupe at Km. 73.5 on Highway 3 to Tecate.
Tours and wine tasting
by appointment. At Rancho El Mogor at Km. 86.5 on Highway 3 to Tecate.
Wines - Wine tasting and tours by appointment. Located in Francisco Zarco,
Valle de Guadalupe, just off Highway 3 to Tecate.
Viña de Liceaga
Wine tasting and tours
Sat. 1pm by appointment. At Km. 93 on Highway 3 to Tecate.
Mexico offers blends and single varietal wines. The medium
and lower tiers, especially bulk wines, may have residual sugar, and the
Mexican taste for "smoothness" often means low acidity and moderate
tannins. The newer-styled wines are usually dry or off dry and can be more
balanced – or occasionally, quite tannic. These, especially Chardonnay,
Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon are sometimes lightly aged in oak.
The predominant reds are European classics such as
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Malbec and Carignan,
in addition to a few California favorites like Petite Sirah, Zinfandel,
and Ruby Cabernet. Newer varieties include the Italian Sangiovese,
Montepulciano, Aglianico and the Spanish Tempranillo.
The main white
varieties are the popular Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Riesling,
Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. The brandy grapes Trebbiano, Colombard, and
the Spanish Palomino are also used for table wines. Sparkling wines,
usually sweet, are made with Chardonnay and Muscat grapes.
Mexican labels are
simple, giving brand, producer, and vintage. Varietal types are often
indicated, but this is optional. The best wines, “reservas” or "reservas
privadas" are more likely to be made with modern and traditional
winemaking techniques in a dry modern style that emphasizes fruit.
brief History of Baja Wine
The wine industry got its
start in Mexico in 1524, when the governor of New Spain conquistador
Hernando Cortéz ordered every Spaniard with a land grant from the crown to
plant 1,000 grape vines for every 100 Indians in his employ, every year
for five years. Perhaps the Cortéz edict to the colonists succeeded too
well, and early settlers were judged too enthusiastic about the product.
In any event, the Spanish crown abruptly forbade the production of local
wines in 1699, dooming early Mexican vineyards and forcing the colonials
to purchase the Spanish wines of the day or go without. Catholic
missionaries in need of sacramental wines did cultivate vines, however,
despite the viceroys' determined interference.
In 1705, Jesuits
brought wine to the peninsula when Padre Juan Ugarte planted the first
grapes at the San Ignacio Mission. In the 1790s, Franciscan priests
discovered the fertile Valle Santo Tomás as they were traveling north.
In 1834, Dominican priests founded the "Mision de
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte" - this was the last mission
established in the Californias and the one that functioned the least
amount of time. When the Mexican government in 1888 secularized the
Missions, the Santo Tomás Vineyards were reassigned to private ownership
and the Bodegas de Santo Tomás was established. In the early 1900s,
Russian refugees settled in the Guadalupe Valley between Ensenada and
Tecate, bringing with them prize wine grape cuttings from Europe.
valley retains the abbreviated name "Valle de Guadalupe," and today,
Guadalupe Valley produces
percent of Mexico's wines, many winning international recognition.