As most of you know by now, we believe that wine offers adventure. Every time you open a bottle of wine, it’s like you are traveling to another place (a terroir), another time (a vintage) and another culture (local wine traditions). Bottles of wine have brought us to some farflung places, like the mountains of Corsica, the volcanoes of the Canary Islands, and deep into central Asia.
Sometimes we forget that adventure lurks in our own backyard. So today we will take a road trip down to Guadalupe.
The Valle de Guadalupe, in Baja, has all the potential for a great wine region. The weather is a bit like what you’d find in many part of the Mediterranean where famous wines have long been produced, such as Italy, Southern France or Spain. For now, the region still has a pioneering feel – people are experiment, figuring out what grows well. But we’re talking about lots of people: already there are 180 producers estimated in the region!
The region benefits a bit from the “Beaujolais” effect. Young, dynamic producers can’t afford land in Burgundy, so they head to Beaujolais instead. Beaujolais has benefited enormously, becoming a hotbed of natural wine innovation in recent decades. Similarly, young dynamic producers from around here can’t afford land in California: many of them head to Guadalupe instead.
And sure enough, we are starting to see innovative natural wine emerge. The star, for now, is Vinos Pijoan. The family behind it has been making wines in the region since 2002. Silvana Pijoan grew up in this family, and after a career as a dancer, studied wine and then decided to make natural wines on the family estate.
As is often the case when we enjoy our adventures in nearby realms, we notice many similarities. There is Zinfandel grown here, for example – and the vines are 50 years old! But you also come across things that we don’t often do in California, such as a blend of Tempranillo with Rhone grapes Grenache and Syrah. Why not? Each wine region develops its own personality based on local conditions and cultures, and that’s what makes wine exploration so much fun.
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