Want to make wine and vacation in Mexico? You can do both at the same time by enrolling in the annual wine-making course at Estación de Oficios el Porvenir (above) in the heart of Baja California wine country.
The course takes place on four consecutive Saturdays. You've missed it for this year, because applications had to be submitted in June. But keep it in mind for next time. The classes are in Spanish, so the delay gives you time to brush up.
Meanwhile, drop by on your next trip through the Guadalupe Valley. If you've spent much time among wine people there, you've heard about La Escuelita--the school. This is the place.
It was founded by pioneering winemaker Hugo d'Acosta to help grape growers beset by falling prices to profit from their crops in another way--by turning them into wine. Thus vineyards were saved that might have been torn out.
Thomas Egli, who assists d'Acosta, shows here how grapes are manually punched down in open-fermentation concrete tanks. Some 200 tons of grapes are fermented in these tanks every year by valley wineries that use the facilities.
That wine was not made on the premises, but the red wine shown here was. Its name, 5 Estrellas, stands for the five partners who made it, each of whom planted one of the five varietals in the wine--Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Cinsault. From 2009, it's light, fruity and easy to drink with anything.
We finished with Hugo d'Acosta's Acrata 2008, a blend of Grenache and Carignan with a touch of Durif (Petite Sirah). An unfiltered wine, it was not sweet but had a silky, almost syrupy mouth feel that made it very pleasant for the wine that ended lunch and our tour.