Last weekend was my 40th birthday so to celebrate, my sister suggested that we go down into Baja California and visit the wine country of Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada. I had visited other wine regions in the past, but I had yet to explore this region in Mexico and since I had heard great things about the wines there from friends, I was interested in trying them out for myself.
(Photo by Barón Belch’é)
We stopped at a few vineyards which each had their own unique style and great wines, but the vineyard that stuck out in my mind the most that day was Barón Balch’é and their beautiful wine cave.
The current owner of this vineyard, Juan Rios, began restoring this 79 acre property and its adjacent vineyards in 1997. Interested in making great wines, he began to surround himself with wine experts and wine connoisseurs alike. As the vineyard became more established, they were able to build an underground cellar in 2000. At this time, the vineyard, Barón Balch’é, was now official and they were finally able to introduce their first five wine labels one year later in 2001. They produced a Zinfandel, Riserva Especial, Double Blanc, Grenache, and a Tempranillo.
Today, Barón Balch’é produces 20,000 crates of wine per year that consist of 14 reds, 3 whites, and a clarette. They plan on increasing that to 50,000 crates as their vineyard grows, and they will build a resort adjacent to the vineyards in the near future. They’re growing fast and after tasting their wines, it’s easy to see why.
Our tour guide that day was Isaac. He was a very friendly gentleman who was quite knowledgeable of the vineyard itself and of the wines they produced. He took us down into the cave and allowed us to explore a bit as he explained what types of barrels they use in their wine making process and how long each wine stays in the barrels. The cave was dimly lit, cool, and smelled of wet earth and oak.
Soon afterward, Isaac led us into a room within the wine cave to do our wine tasting. As he poured each glass, he would explain what wine we were drinking, how and when it was made and even if it aged well. Each glass he poured went down easily. Barón Belch’é has definitely found there niche. Their wines are all very drinkable. I found my favorite to be their 2016 Clarette. It’s a red/white blend perfect for the upcoming summer months.
I honestly suggest making a trip to this great vineyard if you ever find yourself in Baja, California. Besides, after drinking all of that great wine, you can go back upstairs and enjoy a nice gourmet meal in their restaurant. You won’t regret it.