The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2013

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Page 145 of 149

OFF THE BEATEN PATH Merlot from Mexico BAJA WINE SHEDS ITS TACO SHELL story and photos by Michael Cervin B eer and tequila are emblematic of Mexico. But Baja's wine region is getting respect with high scores from the American wine press and a new breed of winemakers dedicated to premium wine production. Now, if it can just get the government off its back and find water. The majority of wine production is located in the Guadalupe Valley, about 30 minutes east of Ensenada, which makes 90 percent of all wine in Mexico. The official wine route, Ruta del Vino, supports growing infrastructure of wine tourism including lodging and terrific restaurants such as the highly-regarded Laja, and the new Finca Altozano. Ten years ago it was a different story. Wine production was dominated by the larger wineries like L. A. Cetto, and Santo Tomás, which started grape growing in 1888. Smaller wineries were content Victor Segura of Las Nubes. selling cheap jug wine to the Mexican market. Now, Hacienda La Lomita, Adobe Guadalupe, Las Nubes, and Villa Montefiori are just four of more than 70 wineries dedicated to crafting exceptional wine. "Americans have a very negative opinion of Mexican wine," says Don Miller, owner of Adobe Guadalupe, the only American-owned winery in Baja. "But our renaissance is world-class. The Guadalupe Valley is like Napa to the Mexicans," he says. My recent visit showed a surge in quality and winemaking techniques, surpassing my visit just two years ago. "Right now it's about good wine at the right price, not $100 bottles," says Victor Segura, co-owner of Las Nubes. "Yes, there is a market for high-priced wine, but the value market is bigger," he says. Very few Americans Adobe Guadalupe is one of more than 70 wineries in Baja California. 144  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2013 TP0713_100-148.indd 144 6/24/13 6:05 PM

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