I’m the only American. And the only blonde in the winemaking course I just started at Hugo D’Acosta’s famed school, la Estación de Oficios, affectionately known as “la escuelita.” I inadvertently moved two blocks away from the school when I found my little rental house in April during my four day reconnaissance trip here to the Valle de Guadalupe in North Baja California. I had targeted this region because I knew I wanted to work in wine. I knew I wanted to live in Latin America. And I knew I wanted to be close to my mother and father who are both getting on in age and live in CA and AZ, respectively. I adore Mediterranean climates and was thrilled to discover a wine region just over the border!
I moved here in May and began serious studies of the local wine industry by way of attending as many wine tastings as I could manage per week. Aiii, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! Though the wineries are concentrated within a 14 mile stretch, it is no easy feat getting to all of them. Many are found on dusty, deeply rutted dirt roads that are a bit off the beaten path, and signage is haphazard at best. “Desgustación” (tasting) which sounds like a sneeze to me, began to roll off my tongue with ease as I diligently sought out the most remote bodegas and eagerly expanded my palate. I took vigorous tasting notes and filled my little wine journal with all sorts of trivia I learned from the winemakers and their staff. The wine pours are altogether demasiado generous and I’m not one to spit if I’ve got something tasty on my tongue, therefore it is quite unproductive to visit more than two wineries a day unless you just want to get sauced. I am all of five feet tall and absolutely will not divulge my weight but suffice to say that I simply cannot write coherent, well-informed notes past two wineries/day. Hence: well … I’ve had to visit a few wineries more than once ;))) Expanding my palate, getting a feel for the terroir of the region (or terruno in Spanish), filling out my tasting notes and chatting amiably with the winemakers has become a passion! Too bad it doesn’t fill my coffers with coinage! Nevertheless, I have learned (and am continuing to learn) a great deal about the varietals and their expression in this bewitching region, which will serve me in my new vocation.
The loosely strung-together ideas I had about getting “involved” in wine began to take shape as I rubbed shoulders with winemakers from a handful of countries who have landed precisely here to create their evocative nectars ….. Mexican, yes. Spicy? Inevitably so. Voluptuous? Robust? Darling readers and devoted fans of Bacchus, if you have not yet indulged in Mexican artisanal wine (yes I hear the question marks going off in your brains simultaneously) please make an effort. You won’t find it on the shelves of Albertson’s or Total Wine. A few visionary chefs, such as Rick Bayless of Frontera fame are putting these wines on their lists. Otherwise, you’ll just have to hazard the lackadaisical border crossing and come for a visit. Be advised: you may fall in love. Just don’t fall in your cups.