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Column 042709 Dryden

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Fiestas de la Vendimia 2009 Schedule – Mexico's Annual Wine Festival

'Vino-Tourism' by Steve Dryden

 

Every summer the wineries of Baja California, Mexico pool their talents and wares to host an amazing series of wine, food, music and cultural events throughout the region. Most of these festivities take place in Ensenada and/or the Valle de Guadalupe, with a few events in other areas. You may need to get a bank loan to attend some of the events, but if you’re selective and practical you can enjoy some great wine, food and entertainment.

 

The Vendimia 2009 begins August 7th and continues to August 23rd. Summer temperatures during these events usually hover around 100˚F, so pace yourselves and hydrate with fresh water as needed. Due to the abundance of wine, it is suggested that you book lodging (ASAP) and spend the night near the location of the event. Hotel Plaza Fatima, Hacienda Guadalupe and Rancho Malagon B&B still have some rooms for the event season, if you act fast.

 

Two of my favorite events include “Noche de Cofradia en Ensenada,” to be held this year on Tuesday, August 18th at 6 p.m. This is the most reasonably priced event and exposes your palate to about 30 wineries and local culinary establishments. Held at the seaport terminal, this competition matches wines with regional gourmet cuisine.

 

Another great day can be enjoyed Saturday, August 15 at 6 p.m., during the annual “Malagon Family Celebration” held near Francisco Zarco on a 500 acre ranch, vineyard, winery, and B&B.  This family orientated event includes a horse show, live jazz and mariachi, an abundance of authentic Mexican/American food, and large samples of all their wines. In addition, their B&B is available for lodging during many of the other events, if you book early!

 

Here’s the main schedule of events for August 2009

 

Friday August 7th at 7 p.m. is the 19th “Wine Experience” held at Centro Cívico y Cultural Riviera del Pacifico, in Ensenada. This fun “opening event” is a presentation of the wines, labels and vintages of Baja California, music, food tasting and art.

 

Saturday August 8th at 9 a.m. is the "XVII Concurso International Ensenada Tierra del Vino" wine competition, held in the Hotel Coral y Marina. Professional judges select the best wines in the competition.

 

Saturday August 8th at 8:30 a.m. is a golf tournament at Real del Mar Golf Club, sponsored by Hotel Calafia y Vinos Bibayoff. Happy golfers play “four man scramble," with a wine tasting at each hole, exquisite food samplings; followed by an awards dinner with prizes, raffle & auction.

 

Saturday August 8th at 9:00 a.m. is an informative and educational venue called “Winemaker Visits,” held at most regional wineries where winemakers host visitors to taste and describe their wines. There are three of these events.

 

Saturday August 8th at 6:30 p.m. is a “Gala Dinner” held at Vinícola Adobe Guadalupe, featuring a formal dinner and wine auction for the rich and famous.

 

Sunday August 9th, with an early start of 7:00 a.m., lucky guests can ride on horseback for 20K with wine tastings at wineries in the Guadalupe Valley and lunch.

 

Sunday August 9th at 1:30 p.m. is the annual “Country Lunch” at Viña de Liceaga Winery, San Antonio de las Minas, featuring baked lamb, house wine and live music.

 

Sunday August 9th at 6:00 p.m. is the popular Monte Xanic “Sunset Concert.” They present works from classical repertoire, accompanied by fine cheeses and house wine in a beautiful valley setting!

 

Monday August 10th at 6:00 p.m. is the second Monte Xanic “Sunset Concert.”

Friday August 14th offers Jazz at EL Mogor winery at 5:30 p.m., with house wines and Mediterranean empanadas.

 

Friday August 14th at 6:00 p.m. Vinícola Viña de Liceaga, San Antonio de las Minas, presents a variety of local cheeses, accompanied by house wine and music.

 

Friday August 14th at 6:00 p.m. The Manzanilla Restaurant near the Ensenada harbor will present gourmet tapas matched with premium Viñas Pijoan wines. A popular event!

 

Saturday August 15th at 9:00 a.m. is another “Winemaker Visits,” held in most Valle de Guadalupe wineries, where winemakers host visitors at their wineries to taste and describe their wines.

 

Saturday August 15th at 4:00 p.m. is an event not to be missed! You won’t need a bank loan to enjoy this wonderful Russian family. “Russian Memories,” at Bibayoff Winery, with Russian music, dancers, food and wines. All people are welcome!

 

Saturday August 15th at 6:00 p.m. is the Malagon Family Celebration held near the village of Francisco Zarco. A horse show, live jazz and mariachi with authentic Mexican/American cuisine and large samples of all their premium wines.

 

Saturday August 15th at 1 p.m. Party “To the Sounds of Vinisterra,” held at the winery featuring gourmet food and music, along with some of Mexico’s best wine.

 

Sunday August 16th at 6:30 p.m. is “Velada Italiana en Villa Montefiori,” with Italian soirée at Villa Montefiori, opera music in the vineyard, Italian cuisine (traditional Italian food), wine tasting, music.

 

Tuesday March 18th at 6:00 p.m. is my favorite event of the season! “La Noche de Cofradia en Ensenada,” to be held this year on Tuesday August 18th at 6 p.m. This is the most reasonably priced event and exposes your palate to about 30 wineries and local culinary establishments. Held at the seaport terminal, this competition matches wines with regional gourmet cuisine.

 

Thursday August 20th is the only free event, held at the Park in Ejido El Porvenir at 4:00 p.m., with music, local food and wine.

 

Friday August 21st at 7:00 p.m. is a presentation of artisan wine, olive oils, and other handcrafted products. Held at the “La Escuelita” wine school in El Provenir.

 

Friday August 21st at 7:30 p.m. is “Mexican Delights at Valmar Winery” in Ensenada. 19:30 Hrs. Deluxe dinner with a great variety of delicious Mexican dishes, paired with the best house wines, along with music and dancing.

 

Saturday August 22nd at 9:00 a.m. is the final “Winemaker Visits,” where winemakers host visitors at their wineries to taste and describe their wines.

 

Saturday August 22nd, beginning at 2:00 p.m., is the famous Santo Tomas Winery Street Fair, with numerous artistic expressions, games, music, food and house wines.

 

Sunday August 23rd is the Grand Finale, at 12:00 noon, with the 18th annual “Paella Cooking Contest.” Held at Rancho San Gabriel, San Antonio de las Minas. A very popular (always sold out well in advance) country contest for cooking rice paella style, sampling of paella and wines, dancing and music.

 

Have fun, be safe, don’t drink and drive, hydrate during the events! It’s probably a great idea to get on the wait list ASAP, as tickets sales are usually chaotic, confusing and presented at the last possible second before the events.

 

Also see "Plan Now for Baja California's 2009 'Fiestas de la Vendimia,'" by Steve Dryden, MexiData.info, 02/16/09

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Steve Dryden is a wine, food and travel writer living in northwestern Baja California, in the heart of Mexico’s premier wine country, where he also guides individual and small group wine tours and books lodging.  He can be reached via e-mail at sbdryden@hotmail.com or www.bajawineandtours.com.

BAJA CALIFORNIA'S "WINE ROUTE"
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Link to Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de Baja California page - and click on map to enlarge