Making our way out of the Baja, we were in for one last unexpected treat from Mexico, Baja Wine Country!!!
Words taken from my daily journals, with some enhancements…..here or there.
Mision Santa Maria Hotel San Quintin: In the very large and very empty dining room, reminds me of something..but what?? I’m enjoying a homemade Mexican breakfast and hot Earl Grey tea while jotting in my journal.
I woke up this morning and just laid there til I fell back asleep. I welcomed the lazy morning. We have been driving for the past four, five, six???? days straight. I can’t remember. This beach front hotel is awesome, great friendly people and I bet its jamming when its not off season. The emptiness gave a bit of a creepy feeling. I kept looking over my shoulder for either a kid speeding down on his big wheel or twin girls in matching dresses or maybe even the faint sounds of a typewriter. The warm staff, full of smiles, brought my thoughts back to the present.
The beach is like mini sand dunes. I took advantage of our last time at the Pacific and did a walking meditation along the shore line. Afterwards, I collected the last bit of sea treasures and captured a few more on film. My hunger got the best of me and I headed back to the hotel. Waiting for my breakfast, I’m presented with a tasty treat. Fresh made corn tortillas. Inhaling the warm goodness, I watch the woman make more by hand. It’s so second nature to her, she doesn’t even look at her hands as she rolls then pats them out. It’s rhythmic. After stuffing my face, I walk over to the tortilla making pro and drop 20 pesos in her tip jar along with a “muy bueno, gracias señora” and head back to the room to take another nap.
Close up of the beach sand dunes in San Quintin, Baja California
Rancho Sordo Mudo RV Park (fees are a donation and funds go to support the school for the dear across the road): Snuggled in bed, peaking my head out of my blanket to see the beginning of the day. It’s chilling, making me dig deeper into my blanket but the thoughts of wine tasting makes me jump me to my feet!
It’s a rainy day. The RV windows are open and it smells exactly like New Zealand. I can’t put my nose on it but I think it’s these pine trees. I’m in heaven, but almost tortured by it. Is New Zealand calling me??? If so, what is it saying???
Last night we had a fancy fun meal and bottle of wine at Hacienda Guadalupe. Bone marrow, beef ribs, and finished with pink peppercorn ice cream. We shared a blend bottle of their Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, and Merlot and with views that won’t stop!! It was fabulous! What a way to kick off wine country.
Bone Marrow, Beef Ribs, and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream!
We stared tasting wine at 10am at Castillo Ferrer. A young vineyard with a great Syrah. The vineyards were just waking up to another overcast, rainy, cool day. Christian welcomed us. As we tasted five different wines (for 250 pesos) Christian told us about the area, how he grow up here and his big plans to open his own place with his young wife and girls. This 25 year old filled the tasting room with warmth and ambition. Before we left, he made a list of other little and good vineyards to check out from over 250 vineyards in the area.
Wine bottle stocked and ready to rock, bikes to wine all over, and the vines growing strong under the
Next stop, Casa Magoni. Fransicso greased and helped us with these wines. There was a bit more depth and elegance to these wines. I really enjoyed them. Alice ordered a local cheese plate that came with Magoni’s own olive oil, which tasted very earthy and alive with flavor. I could have drank it! Not because I’d had a lot of wine but because it was that good, or at least I told myself that. After a purchase of olive oil and a bottle of Nebbiolo (the grape that the valley is known for), Alice and I took a nap in the RV. Or maybe passed out from all the morning wine, not sure, and does it matter?? An hour later we emerged, waived to Fransisco and headed down the road.
Cool Magoni sign and the bottle of wine I HAD to take home!!!!
We found a few more vineyards but nothing that was really amazing until we decided to end the day at a place Fransisco (from Casa Magoni) frequents because of the wine and the food truck, Adobe Guadalupe!!!!!!!!
The food truck working hard to make magic and enjoying the most delicious El Jarid red wine at Adobe Guadalupe. And what a landscape!! This is Heaven!!
The drive up to the vineyard was covered in vines and horses in the pastures. Metal horse sculptures lined the path to the tasting room and the food truck. There was a very old school authentic mexican feel to this place but with a bit of a modern twist. We had had enough of tastings so instead of going to the tasting room we decided to sit outside near the food truck. We each had a glass El Jardin red wine, Tempranillo and Merlot blend, which was bold, oaky, and juicy. For food, we order the amazingly delicious roasted potatoes in olive oil, garlic, and paprika that Fransisco recommended. We also had sautéed mushrooms and shrimp with garlic. This was my fav food and wine in the Baja wine country, hands down. Well….so far.
Our last day in the Baja, and in wine country, started a bit later than the others. The first stop of the day was to Torres Alegre Winery. Another suggestion by Fransisco. I opted out of the tasting and just had a glass of Del Viko, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Zinfandel. The wine was nice, fresh, light. Nice wine to start the morning off. This was another young vineyard but was fun and modern. Feeling the bite of hunger hit, we asked for suggestions for lunch. Finca Altozano had fresh local food for a good price, sounds perfect.
Another view from the Torres Alegre tasting room along with my delicious wine for breakfast and the fun steps up to the tasting room.
I thought that the food and wine can never get better in the Baja, but it did. Well, maybe not better just different or unique but always amazing. I was shocked at how dialed in everything was in the Valley. Finca Altozano wasn’t any different. This place had a little boutique hotel, a restaurant, food truck, gift shop, ice cream shop, coffee shop, goats, sheep, open air space for parties or a festival, all on the same property.
We once again ordered the Montepulicano, Sangiovese blend by LA Cetta, which was another bold, full bodied wine with a bit of oak and a bit of jam (and only $95 pesos or less than $5 a glass!!!). I ordered beef cheek tacos with corn tortillas and pickled onions along with roasted corn on the cob with butter, chipotle, lime and parmesan cheese. The open air restaurant felt like home with a number of dogs wondering around. They come with the place and add to it. Sipping my wine, looking out at the vast mountains and fields of vines I took in the last day in Mexico.
Diving into the corn, it was perfectly crisp and spicy. I pretty much devoured them in 2 seconds flat! But I took my time savoring the meaty, flavorfully fatty and tender beef cheek tacos. The pickled onions brought tradition to the meal and the tartness pulled the flavors of the fat. The food, added comfort to my sorrowing heart. AHHHHHH! Can I just stay here, pllllleeeeeaaaaasssseeee!
Finca Altozano’s roasted corn (before and after) and Beef cheek tacos! Delicioso!
Canelo enjoying a sun bath and having nothing to do with becoming a super model and the front of the Finca Altozano menu showing their love for the canine. I can totally relate!
It’s not really goodbye
The clouds and rain have come back in. Large bits of fog weave throughout the mountains and granite boulders of the country side. The smell of the pines with the fresh rain, transport me once again to New Zealand. I’m confused on where I was. No matter, I dread leaving. I feel at home in the foreign and unknown. But it’s time to head. I spent a quick bit of time walking around the campsite, saying goodbye to the neighbors dogs, the caretakers horse, and the land. “It’s not really goodbye,” I told myself and the others, “It’s see ya later.” I jumped into the driver seat and for the last time, we took to the roads of Mexico until we crossed the boarder back into the States.