Celebrating the Wealth of the Land: Vintage Wine in Valle de Guadalupe

Susana Cabrera

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada

August has arrived and the sun shines in Valle de Guadalupe to reveal the different shades of green and purple that come from the vineyards of this intriguing land. It is a moment of celebration for the winemakers of the region who anxiously wait to harvest their grapes, which they have cultivated with so much effort, a practice almost as legendary as the advent of humankind.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaIt is unknown when or where the cultivation of grapes began. But from the moment men discovered how to ferment the juice of this fruit, possibly by accident, creating what we now know as wine, a transcendental bond between the blossoming of humankind and this plant was created.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaAncestral civilizations, such as the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Babylonians considered both grapes and wine to be of great importance to their culture. Wine was not only used for commerce and their own consumption, but also during their festivities, and at times, as a tribute to their deities. The Greeks also gave this elixir a divine value, and made Dionysus their wine god. The Romans continued this belief and worshipped Bacchus as their wine god and guardian of agriculture, holding great feasts in his honor.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaThis relation between wine and celebration has been around for centuries. In Spain, during the 17th century, the gratitude of towns, whose economies depended on a profitable wine harvest, overflowed with songs and street parties as an expression of respect to this event that fuses the bounty of the land with the laborious, hard work of man.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada Currently this tradition is known as a ''Vintage Celebration'' and has spread to regions where the terrain and climate favor the industry. Thus, as a prodigy of nature, to the northwest of Ensenada, Baja California, the Valley of Guadalupe appears with its warm ground that extends inland approximately 19 miles, perpendicular to the Pacific. The area receives the coolness of the ocean breeze, which sustains optimal conditions to develop the cultivation of rich, flavorful grapes.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaThe history of wine in Valle de Guadalupe began in 1830 with the arrival of the Dominican friars, who needed wine to use at mass, and so planted the Spanish species of vitis vinifera. In 1888, Santo Tomas Bodega opened as the first wine cellar and store in Ensenada.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaFrom that moment on the production of wine slowly became the most important industry in the region, that has produced typical stocks such as Barber, Mission and Palomino, as well as more sophisticated grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Colombard, Merlot and Syrah.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaNowadays, Valle de Guadalupe has vineyards which are now highly regarded on an international level, especially L. A. Cetto, Pedro Domecq House, Bibayoff Wine and Chateau Camou. They have modernized their facilities and their production procedures creating only the highest quality wines.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaThis achievement requires a prolonged process that comes to fruition at the vintage, which is the time to harvest the grapes. Each year for over a decade this event has been a fun-filled fiesta in Valle de Guadalupe for friends, clients and press, all to celebrate the production and enjoyment of wine.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaDuring the harvest, the streets of Valle de Guadalupe and the Wine Route, which includes places such as San Antonio de las Minas, Valle de las Palmas, Valle de Santo Tomas, San Vicente Ferrera and the city of Ensenada, are filled with celebrations that can range from a simple mass to bless the harvest, exquisite banquets, parades, golf tournaments and bullfights, to interesting conferences on enology and, of course, the ever-essential fireworks display. The wine producers even organize grape stomping contests, placing the freshly picked fruit in a large container to be crushed by the feet of eager participants.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaThe wine tasting events of the region present an excellent opportunity to acquire a good general knowledge about fine wine, and the possibility to develop your senses to appreciate the visual, aromatic and taste qualities that differentiate them, determining the quality.

The art exhibitions in the museums, galleries and libraries that have wine as the central subject, recreate the notion that winemaking is an art. Their main purpose is to invite spectators to reflect on the permanence and relevance of wine in society, which has endured for centuries.

Grape Harvest in Valle de Guadalupe, EnsenadaWithin the beautiful surrounding areas of Valle de Guadalupe there is adventure to enjoy on a guided visit through these fertile lands. Discover the diverse flora and fauna of the region, as well as the history, rich in the cultural inheritance of its inhabitants.

In order to remember that the vintage celebrations in Valle de Guadalupe are proudly Mexican, events are organized featuring mariachis and concerts by nationally renowned singers. The vintage in Valle de Guadalupe and in the surrounding areas, present a whole host of different ways in which to experience wine and its creation, allowing you to fully appreciate this age-old product from this rich land, created by the persistence of man.