Chef Mei was shivering. Her crimson shawl and slim white sweater were not enough to keep the Ensenada December chill off. Truly she had been a tad over-optimistic when she dressed for this blustery day. We are in Mexico where one expects sunshine and heat, wide-brimmed sombreros and spicy salsa. Yet it was cold and rainy and we were all chilled to the bone. Chef John Ash, Chef Mei Ibach, Liz Lynch and myself had embarked on a wine tasting tour of my beloved Valle de Guadalupe and were charmed by the rustic elegance of Tres Mujeres’ artisanal wines and the passionate innovations of Vinícola Torres Alegre. We’d braved some impressively rutted dirt roads, chattering and giggling all along, taking a few detours due to lack of signage and a lively dialogue that stole my attention. It was time to refuel (our personal engines, not the car) so off we went to our next destination, Corazón de Tierra. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt looking for this jewel of a restaurant. But the prize is well worth the hunt.
I adore giving tours of the wine valley where I live and work and introducing people to the distinctive wines from this region. So when my friend, Liz, from Punta Banda facebooked me and said she had some special friends visiting and wanted to take them winetasting, my mind started working immediately. We could take them here here and there! Or there there and here! Oh my, there are so many interesting wineries with AMAZING wines, it is hard to choose … Impossible to fit into one day. We could go rustic or we could go ultra sophisticated. We could stay on paved roads or really go off the beaten path. We could stick to a neighborhood or try to hit one in each mini-region of the valley. Some wineries have four or five wines– or dozens! — and a variety of tastings. Some wineries have only one or two wines (not to be overlooked!) Some wineries have very approachable, friendly winemakers and others not so much. When I discovered that Liz’s guests are both chefs, and world-renowned chefs at that, my challenge became even more discriminating.