This weekend on the way back from Thanksgiving in Punta Banda, we took a trip up Baja Highway 3, from Ensenada to Tecate.
It was a last minute decision, to go to Tecate rather then up the coast back to Tijuana, but it payed off when we realized we were on the Ruta Del Vino, the highway that goes through the Valle de Guadalupe and past plenty of great wineries.
The first we stopped at was Casa Veija. At first we weren’t sure if it was a winery or someone’s house. We spotted this truck and stopped for a picture:
We were greeted by two friendly dogs and a smiling man. The winery was young, only two years old, only producing one of their own wines, but it was rustic and friendly. The man pouring the wine was born in the house sixty-some-odd years ago, and recently came back to open a winery. We tasted some wine and ended up buying some. There was no label on the bottle, just a peice of masking tape with a name and year.
We stopped at another winery, the name of which slips my mind, it was big, clean, fancy and sterile compared to the first. They had more wines and more pretention. The wine wasn’t bad but we left empty handed.
Driving down the road was like a trip back in time, it felt like what southern California should look like. We stopped at Laja just to check it out. They do fixed price meals, four or seven course I think. We asked about vegetarian meals and he said they could cook vegetarian any night. A little pricey for vegetables but good to know they are willing.
Back on the road we stopped at our last winery, L.A. Cetto, the biggest, most crowded and developed of the three. It was a nice place, with families picnicking outside and plenty of wine tasting inside. After a short wait we started tasting. They didn’t have a straight Malbec, but did have Marques Del Valle, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend which was the first I asked to try. In the end it was my favorite. The guy pouring our tastes was really friendly, chatting with us for quite a while. At one point he brought out pictures of himself body boarding in Southern Mexico.
We tasted about 10 different wines, as well as delicious cheese and some of the best olive oil I’ve ever had and were good and tipsy by the end. Thanks to his generous pours we bought a case of wine and a gallon of that delicious olive oil.
The rest of the drive was even more beautiful, driving into the foothills toward Tecate as the sun was setting, casting a beautiful golden hue on the rocks.
Later, while talking to a friend about the olive oil, she mentioned this piece in the New Yorker about counterfeit Italian olive oil, yet another reason to buy local.