Every year, there’s a huge month long wine festival in Baja, Mexico, that American’s seem to have no idea exists. Vendimia means “the wine harvest,” and every August the wine region of El Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada, becomes a giant party for wine foodie and wine enthusiasts.
There are events focused on wine and food pairings like the Noche de Cofradia, where over 42 wineries and 42 restaurants participate, concerts, bullfights, art exhibitions, dance performances, and multicourse dinners. Prices for these events can range from hundreds per person to totally free.
Last year’s activities included an opera concert in the vineyard at Villa Montefiori Winery with Italian dinner and wine tasting, a cheese party with artisan bread, house wine and live music at Viña de Liceaga Winery and a gourmet dinner prepared by renowned Chef Enrique Olvera, pairing with Vena Cava wines and performances by Zirk Ubu at La Villa de Valle Winery, just to name a few.
Almost all of the events cater to Mexican’s, who come from all over the country. Very few Americans come, because very few are aware of it. Most of the wineries don’t advertise to the US and much of the information online is in Spanish.
The two-centuries-long wine tradition takes place primarily in the Guadalupe Valley, but that’s just one of seven valleys between Ensenada and Tecate dedicated to the cultivation of grapes. The valleys produce 90% of all Mexican wines, or 1.2 millions cases of wine a year, of which 25% is exported abroad. The Guadalupe Valley is located 15 minutes inland from the Ensenada coast, and has been the center of the biggest events in the region for the past 22 years.
Tickets to many of the events sell out in minutes, the most popular being the Paella Tasting, usually held this year on Sunday August 18th. The “Ramón García Osejo” Paella Contest at the Viña de Liceaga starts at 12:00pm, and closes the Vendimia Festival. The winners of the Preconcurso de Paella will be cooking for the title.