The wine trails of France’s Alsace region, California’s Napa Valley, and Argentina’s Mendoza province are known the world over, but a lesser-known wine region is now stepping into the spotlight on the world stage: Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley.
Mexico is a country better known for its cuisine and tequila than its wine but Guadalupe Valley, located along Route 3 in the Mexican state of Baja California – the finger of the land which separates the Gulf of California from the Pacific Ocean – is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in North America.
The perfect combination of soil, altitude, and variations in temperature ensure that grapes thrive in Guadalupe Valley, where hot daytime temperatures are balanced by cooler evenings. This allows the tannins of red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec to become more concentrated and in turn produces red wines which are full-bodied and of a higher alcohol content.
Temperature variations also favour the concentration of aromas in the valley’s white wines, with early harvested Sauvignon Blanc and oak-free Chardonnay among the standout choices.
Wineries in the region celebrate by organising wine tastings and tours, live music and dancing, artistic exhibitions, and food fairs. The festival is capped off with a paella cook-off competition, held in the shade of the oak trees at Viña de Liceaga winery.
Most wineries can be found down dirt roads leading off Route 3 and the oldest in the region, Bodegas de Santo Tomás, has been producing wine since 1888. All you need is a map of the wine route and you can start planning your tastings.
Not only well-known for its vino, Guadalupe Valley also boasts a thriving culinary scene. One of its restaurants, Corazon De Tierra, is leading the charge and in 2013 found itself at number 30 on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.