Written By Caroline Aguiar, September 16, 2014
Seventeen years ago, when Raul and I began the guest ranch business, we thought our guests’ prime interest was horse back riding. Although today, this remains the main focus at La Bellota, we’re now discovering new avenues of interest such as art, wine, and horses, all of which are pleasant additions, and the perfect combination for further enjoyment at our ranch, and from the neighboring wine region; the Guadalupe Valley.
Within this past year, Raul and I have partnered up with Baja Rancho Art http://www.bajaranchoart.com/ directed by artist, Ellen Parry, as facilitator for their wine tours, and art workshops within the field of plein aire painting, sketching, and photography. Last weekend, we had the distinct pleasure of guiding a Baja Rancho Art group on a wine tour for two delightful days as we toured the Guadalupe Valley, rode horses, and dined on exquisite food.
On Saturday morning our tour began. Our first stop was at Tres Mujeres (Three Women) which lies on the west side of the Guadalupe Valley. Ivette, our gracious host, wine maker, and one of the Tres Mujeres welcomed us into her home, and winery, where we tasted exceptional wines such as Merlots, Grenaches, and her own special blends.
After leaving Tres Mujeres, we drove a short distance to Vinicola El Mogor, where we met owner, and wine producer, Natalia Badan. Fortunately, they were in the middle of pressing grapes, the old-fashioned way, so we were able to see how this most important process was done.
After a little tasting, we were invited downstairs to see her wine cellar which was a welcomed invitation since all underground wine cellars are kept extra cool. The group was thrilled because it was a very hot day, there was absolutely no hesitancy in getting us down there!
Natalia explained the process of fermentation, and storage of young wines. She pointed out a large selection of bottled wine that was going on four years in storage. She said it was just reaching its peak stage of perfection!
At one o’clock it was time for lunch. This is my personal favorite time of the entire day, so we headed over to Hacienda Guadalupe where owners, and wine makers Daniel Sanchez, and Gabriela Melchum met us with friendly smiles, as they showed us to our beautifully set table which was all ready, and waiting for us. I highly recommend Hacienda Guadalupe to anyone who enjoys Mexican Food with a touch of Mediterranean style. The entire group was absolutely delighted with their meal, and the friendly, attentive service.
After lunch there was one more winery on our list. We visited Vinicola Legado Sais, which is family owned and operated. This was an extra special visit for me because the family’s daughter, Damaris, is a school mate of our daughter, Christine who is also studying Business Administration, and Tourism.
I couldn’t resist their desert wine. Perhaps some would say its a girlie wine, but that’s okay. I always tell people, “You know what the best wine in the world is? The one YOU like.” So there it is. This particular wine was a white, and very sweet. It has a sweet name too, “Pasita” which means Little Grape. They also had a diverse assortment of reds which everyone seemed to enjoy.
Finally, after a day of wine tasting, and touring it was time to head back to La Bellota for some rest, and relaxation. Our cook Carmelita spent most of the day preparing her famous Chile Rellenos for the evening meal. This too, was absolutely delicious. So much good food! We ended the day with full tummies, pleasant reminders of the day’s events, and happy smiles.
On Sunday morning, Raul, and Gabriel had the horses saddled, and waiting for their riders shortly after breakfast. We took a relaxing ride through the canyon, and underneath the shady oak trees. Everyone enjoyed the experience. Some of our guests who had never ridden before expressed interest in riding more next time!
Sunday’s itinerary consisted of lunch at Vinos Fuentes, where Enologist, and owner, Miguel Fuentes, our most gracious, and gregarious host personally attended to our every need that would enhance our dining experience with them.
One of our guests loved their salsa so much, Miguel suddenly disappeared into the kitchen, and within 1o minutes he returned with a freshly made bottled salsa just for her, AND the recipe so she could make it at home. Now that’s what I call friendly service!
We left Vinos Fuentes, and headed to one more winery before going back to the border. We visited Monte Xanic which had a beautiful lake in front of it. I think the lakeside view was my favorite part, but all of our guests enjoyed their experience there.
Finally, with many sad faces it was time to head back to the border. As we drove along, we chatted about the weekend, and there was much expressed interest in a return weekend for more tasting, and touring of the Guadalupe Valley. The entire valley is home to over 83 wineries so it’s impossible to visit each one in two days, but it’s certainly possible to schedule more tours, and I believe with Baja Rancho Art, and Rancho La Bellota working in a team effort this is can be accomplished.
The idea is to bring people to Baja, so they can see for themselves, the beauty, tradition, and culture Mexico has to offer to everyone!
For more information on art workshops, and wine tours please visit Bajaranchoart.com for detailed scheduling information.