Wine Country Getaways

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Spring is a popular time for an excursion to a new place. Springtime gives us a new look at life and may include planning a getaway in wine country, where the vines are preparing their contribution to this year’s vintage.

If you’re looking for something unique to talk about, consider using your passport to enjoy a wine country getaway outside of the U.S. Let’s think about heading south for warmer weather and a new adventure.

With so many flights and cruises to the region, it’s easier than ever to customize a getaway to fit your length of stay. Whether you have three days of vacation or ten, your trip will be full of regional flavor.

Following a flight into San Diego, you can drive to the lovely Valle de Guadalupe, which is known for dry warm weather during the spring and summer. Located in Baja California, this area is part of a very old wine grape growing region started by Jesuit priests in the 1700s. Presently, many varietals of grapes are being grown here such as tempranillo, cabernet and albarino, a delicious crisp white wine perfect for the flavors of Mexico. All these destinations can be visited in a few days travel.

Casa de Piedra is just north of the popular destination of Ensenada. This winery and tasting room was started by Hugo D’Acosta, who received his wine training in French methods before returning to Mexico and applying his love of winemaking. Casa de Piedra is considered one of the founders of the modern wine industry in Mexico.

For those who find inspiration in modern art, Vena Cava winery is something to behold. In 2005, new to the wine industry and fresh from Manchester, U.K., Phil and Eileen Gregory committed to an organic winemaking philosophy. They also envisioned a new take on their winery facility, using reclaimed materials including a roof made from a wooden fishing boat. Their wines are featured in restaurants with world acclaim such as Pujol, considered the best restaurant in Mexico City.

Biodynamic wines are found at Finca La Carrodilla, which makes wines available in the United States. For family-run and hands-on experiences, Vinas de Garza and Monte Xanic are small wine producers that are putting Baja California on the wine map, offering quality versus quantity with the goal of one day achieving Napa status.

Hospitality adds an exceptional quality to wine getaways in Mexico. Frequently, when you reach out to the winery you plan to visit, they are more than happy to help arrange your accommodations; often, it will be on the vineyard itself! Many wineries and wine resorts in Mexico have woven their family tradition into their business by creating casitas for guests that may include the comforts of home such as refrigerators, filtered water and WiFi. Ruta del Vino, an association of wineries and lodging partners, can help you tap into the local wine scene and discover more than 60 wineries with downloadable wine maps.

South America
If you have at least a week, South America offers both beauty and adventure. Imagine visiting the regions listed on the imported wines you’ve been enjoying from the local market! Wine region valleys of Argentina and Chile have beautiful hospitality options to make you feel at home. The wines are intense in color and have a broad range of flavors unique to the varying regions where they’re grown, which contain mountainous and valley elevations. In general, the grapevines were started by devout religious practitioners. Traveling Peruvian monks are credited with planting vineyards dating back to the 1500s and producing wine for sacramental purposes.

Most famous for Malbec wines, Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja are among the commonly recognized Argentinian regions where wine, food and travel merge. When planning your travel, remember that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere; if you’re looking for warmer weather, visit during December through February.

In Mendoza, your warm welcome at the vineyards of Santa Ana, Escorihuela and Bodegas Lopez includes a full plate of local fruits and charcuterie with wine flights. Luxury hotels offer biking, golf and spa activities plus customized winery tours that include bilingual guides and luncheons or dinners at select wineries such as Carmine Granata, Lagarde, Don Arturo Lopez and Catena Zapata.
Worth a stop is Argentina’s Bodega Catena Zapata, founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant Nicola Catena, who is credited for “discovering” the region and its high-altitude terroir. The family’s Adrianna Vineyard has received prestigious awards such as Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award. Similar to the dynasties of California wineries, Catena Zapata is family owned and poised to continue presenting award-winning wines including Malbec.

Wherever you travel, enjoy the wines and food of the local cultural scenes, always filled with age-old and new tradition! ■

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