Ensenada Wineries – Beautiful Properties and Great Tasting Wine

Ensenada, Mexico vineyards

Esenada vineyard in the Guadalupe Valley

Ensenada, Mexico vineyards

Grapes hung from an arbor just overhead

L.A. Cetto Winery

L.A. Cetto Winery

L.A. Cetto Winery

Pretty paths wander through the grounds.

L.A. Cetto Winery moonshine tanks used during Prohibition

These huge tanks were used to make "moonshine"

sherry during Prohibition.

L.A. Cetto winery

Grapes travel this corkscrew.

Steel tanks for aging wines

Steel tanks for aging wines.

Oak barrels age the more select varieties.

Oak barrels age the more select varieties.

L.A. Cetto Winery has won over 130 international awards

Gilberto pours wine after our tour.

L.A. Cetto Winery L.A. Cetto Winery outdoor picnic areas

Lots of gracious places for a picnic.

L.A. Cetto Winery outdoor picnic areas

We chose a secluded nook.

Dona Lupe vineyard tasting room Dona Lupe vineyard tasting room

Jams, jellies and honeys accompany wine at Doña

Lupe's tasting room.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery gatehouse

The gatehouse.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery

Adobe Guadalupe Winery statue of Pegasus


Adobe Guadalupe Winery.

A welcoming property...

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B

...with gracious views outside.

Wine tasting at Adobe Guadalupe Winery

Minerva tells us Adobe Guadalupe's poignant


Adobe Guadalupe Winery features wines named for archangels Adobe Guadalupe Winery features wines named for archangels

Kerubiel, Serafiel, Miguel, Gabriel

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B arched hallways

Arched indoor hallways..

Adobe Guadalupe Winery open and airy living room

A lovely living room.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B arched hallways

Arched outdoor hallways.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B courtyard and fountain

A fountain filled courtyard.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B arched hallways Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B courtyard and fountain Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B courtyard and fountain

Adobe Guadalupe's courtyard.

Adobe Guadalupe Winery and B&B has a swimming poopl

A great spot to rest for a moment...

Ensenada's Wineries

Mid-July, 2010 - One of the charms of northern Baja California, and quite

different than the dusty, speedy, beerfest of the Baja 500, is a visit to the

delightful wine country.  The Guadalupe Valley is about two-thirds the size

of Napa Valley in California, and has the same climate as southern

France, making it an ideal location for wine making.  We had driven

through these pretty vineyard landscapes several times when we drove

up to the border crossing at Tecate, and we had sampled wines at two

tasting rooms in Ensenada, however we had not yet visited any wineries.

During our stay in

Ensenada, the fog

of "June Gloom"

had spread its

chilly, grey misery

well into July, and we were tired of waking up to damp, dark skies and

living under their scowls all day.  Knowing that the sun was shining and

summer was happily swinging away just a few miles inland, we piled

into a car with friends for a day tour of Ensenada's wine region along

"La Ruta del Vino," the wine route.

During grape growing season, the Guadalupe Valley is a

desert landscape that gets cooled by breezes from the

same misty spring and summer fog that had engulfed us at

the coast.  It is an ideal climate for grapes if not always for

people's moods.  This valley, along with the famed valleys in

California, is so perfect for grape growing that, after first

encouraging the development of New World wine

production, Spain ultimately banned it all together in 1699 to

avoid competition.

Visiting the scenic L.A. Cetto winery, our tour guide Gilberto explained

that wine making really got established in this area at the turn of the

last century when Russian Molokan immigrants settled the region.

Tracing their roots to a Christian sect that rejected the Russian

Orthodox Church in the 1500's, these faithful Slavs insisted upon

eating dairy products during official Church fasting days, earning them

the label "Molokans" (milk drinkers).  In 1904 a few hundred of them

left Russia, bringing wine grape saplings to their new home in Mexico.

We followed Gilberto under a

beautiful grape arbor where

ripe, juicy green grapes

dangled overhead in easy

reach.  Passing some towering

tanks, he described life in this

area during Prohibition when

thirsty Americans provided a

ready market for the sherries

and port wines that came out of those

very same tanks at the hands of Italian

Don Angelo Cetto.  He set up shop in

northern Baja in 1926, bringing a

knowledge of wine making from his

birthplace in Trento in northern Italy.

Today L.A. Cetto produces a million cases of wine each year,

the less expensive varieties aged in steel tanks and the more

select varieties aged in oak casks.  We had joined a family

group of Mexicans for the tour, and we all got a kick out of

listening to Gilberto's presentation in both Spanish and English.

We took turns taking photos of ourselves with the oak barrels in

the background, while we exchanged appreciative nods and

mumbled what we could in each other's languages.

Along with the other immigrant winemakers of the region, Cetto's

winery grew slowly, and in 1951 his son Don Luis Agustin Cetto

took over the reins.  The winery's fortunes really changed in 1965

when the talented young Italian winemaker Camillo Magoni joined

the team.  He overhauled the equipment in 1967, adding

refrigeration.  Amazingly, Camillo is with the winery to this day, and

in 2004 was selected as the top wine maker in the world by the

Dutch magazine Vinbladet.

These days the vineyard is run by grandson Luis Alberto Cetto.  The

wines are exported to 27 countries, and in 2010 they received the

Vinalies Paris International Gold Medal for their 2007 Petite Syrah.

While tasting this delicious wine, I marveled at the wall of awards

behind Gilberto's back.  I asked him which one the winery was most

proud of.  He shrugged, and I got the sense that even with over 130

awards to their credit, award winning is not what makes this place tick.

L.A. Cetto's free wine tastings are offered with an eye towards

educating the public in the joys of wine and its culture.  The

lovely grounds shelter a myriad of picnic areas tucked all around

the main building, and visitors are encouraged to buy a bottle

and enjoy a serene moment of classy outdoor elegance.  We

settled into a private nook with an engaging view of flowers and

fountains, and feasted on a spread of L.A. Cetto's homemade

bread and olive oil accompanied by a delicious Cabernet.  It is no

surprise that when President Obama recently entertained

Mexican President Felipe Caldarón at the White House, L.A.

Cetto wine was served.

We knew it would be hard to top this

introduction to Baja Mexico's wine

region, but we soldiered on.  We

stopped at Doña Lupe's tasting room

where little jars of gourmet goodies

filled the store from floor to ceiling.

Jams, jellies and honeys were all on

offer, and we sampled around the

room with delight.

Guadalupe Valley is filled with little

boutique wineries, but many require

advance appointments and most

require a healthy fee for tasting.  Our

taste buds had lost a little spark after

tasting at least eight wines at L.A.

Cetto and sharing a bottle in the

garden, so we weren't sure they

deserved much further investment for

the afternoon.  However, pulling up at

the gate to Adobe Guadalupe brought

all our senses to a peak once again.

This beautiful winerey / B&B

guesthouse / horse farm is the delightful opposite

extreme to L.A. Cetto.  After taking photos at the gate,

and of the gatehouse itself, a little man came out and

explained to me that there was a group arriving at 3:00

to take a tour.  I asked if we could join them, and after making a phone call, he said yes.

The short wait until their arrival gave us time to wander around outside the gate and get

a few photogrpahs.  Horses are near and dear to the owner's heart, and I especially liked

the picture Mark got of a Pegasus-inspired sculpture.

The vineyard is set back from the

main road, and the entire property

feels like a desert oasis basking in

the sun.  The rows of grape vines

seem to stretch all the way to the

distant mountains, and the

buildings, although new, have a

delicious old world feel.

Unlike L.A. Cetto where the history

of the vineyard is intertwined with

Mexico's history of the settling of the Baja Peninsula, the winery called

Adobe Guadalupe was created just over ten years ago to be a living,

spiritual memorial for a lost and beloved son.  Tru Miller's adult son Arlo

died tragically in a car accident.  While in Paris shortly after his death, his mother visited

the Notre Dame cathedral and received what she felt was a sign from God telling her how

to share and honor his memory.

Arlo had loved Mexican culture,

and there inside Notre Dame

Cathedral his mother saw a

Mexican chair covered with a

Mexican serape.  Upon a return

visit to the cathedral two years

later, she found the chair had

been incorporated into a altar

dedicated to the Virgin of

Guadalupe.  She decided right

then and there to settle in

Mexico's Guadalupe Valley, and

together with her husband Don,

they have created a property as

relaxing and welcoming as it is

stunning in its beauty.

Our hostess, Minerva,

told us this tale as she

poured our selection of

seven wines, each

named for an arch

angel.  As we savored

these rich bodied red

wines, we all scratched

our heads trying to

remember the English

names of the arch

angels, and stumbled a bit

over whether there were

really four or seven.  Miguel

and Gabriel were easy, but

Serafiel and

Kerubiel had us

stumped.  But

when Lucifer

showed up in

our glasses at

the end, we all

knew exactly

who he was.

Tru and Don live

in this glorious

property, but they keep most of it

open for visitors to explore.

Minerva led us down some

fantastic arched walkways into a

bright and airy living room.  Six

guest rooms are available in the

B&B, and I could easily imagine a

fantastic weekend of rest and

relaxation in this romantic setting.

We were led outside through

another hallway of arches and

then stepped into a palm tree

filled courtyard that embraced a

sparkling fountain.  Our cameras

snapped continuously as we


Finally emerging on the far side of

the building, a row of lounge chairs

lined up in front of the swimming

pool and invited us to take a load

off.  I have to admit that our heads

were spinning a little by this time,

what with all of the heavenly arch

angels paying us a visit through

their rich red nectar.  When we

finally left, our spirits were high and

our souls were refreshed.  I had

been waiting for a special day and

special friends to share a waltz

through Ensenada's wine country,

and this had been the perfect day.

All this wine and good cheer meant it was time to get serious

about our waist lines once again, and two Ensenada running

races got us inspired to get a little fitness back.

Find Ensenada on Mexico Maps.