pixel

The Baja Storyteller
By Martina

Rancho El Tule

By Martina
Photos by Bill Veale Graphics

Rancho El Tule

Outside the bustling Guadalupe Valley wine country with sprawling vineyards and gourmet dining is the hidden Rancho El Tule. Just getting there is an adventure and the dirt road entrance has only a tiny unpretentious sign announcing you have arrived. I traveled with my friend and photographer Bill Veale who had told me of the 100 year old working rancho and vineyard, saying it was a must that I check it out. I always love a good story that jumps in my lap.

The first impressions as we drove in on the dirt road were the two graceful pepper trees rooted in history with limbs bigger than most tree trunks. The sun turned the feathery leaves into shimmering tinsel and beneath its canopy stood a radiant young bride posing for pictures. Her gown was a vision of infinite layers of white frothy organza nipped in at her tiny waist. This vision was juxtaposed against the backdrop of rusted relics, a weathered ranch house and the vast green-scape of vines just setting on with tiny clusters of grapes. It is always interesting to enter into a story consciously. I had plans to interview the elder, Don Heriberto Aguilar. Even now I am amused as I actually thought to “make plans,” as if I didn’t know by now that the story tells itself, if you pay attention.

Rancho El Tule kitchen

I wandered around a bit while Bill went off in search of photo ops, then he waved me over to the open cavern-like kitchen. Fragrant smoke from the fire permeated the air and a heavy grill held a great cauldron with flames leaping up its side. A cowboy, named Paco, was working at a long counter laden with fresh meat and it was obvious that he had many years of experience as his movements were smooth and focused. This kind of outdoor cooking is typical of the old rancho way of life. Big bowls of fresh pork were waiting to be cooked for the homemade chicharrones and carna asada sizzled on the griddle.

Bill introduced me to Don Heriberto. Heriberto kindly suggested it was easier to call him “Eddy-berto,” He opened a bottle of unlabeled red wine and offered a cup to taste. It was deep in ruby color, rich in flavor with a very pleasant fresh finish. I have come to know, from the very few who are growing and producing organic wines, that the freshness is a signature and delight of organic wine production. I began to ask a few of the typical “interview” questions. Heriberto responded with short soft sentences and did not offer anything more than was asked. Yes, the rancho was 100 years old. The oldest of grapevines were brought from Spain and are not tended in the more modern ways of production. They need little or no water. Now, completely established, they are not staked, but grow more bush-like from thick twisted trunks. Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Merlot are grown here. And yes, he said, he has three sons that are working the rancho with him.

Heriberto at Rancho El Tule

As I was taking a sip of wine and savoring the history of it, Heriberto slipped from his chair and picked up his guitar. The interview was over. I laughed inwardly. The story had something else to say. This man, as authentic a person as one could meet, had little reason to be talkative. Bill was enthralled with the photo opportunity and I watched life on the rancho unfold. Heriberto knew the old rancho songs, as well as doing some fancy picking. He missed a few notes, sang with a rough outdoorsy voice and we loved it. Thursdays and Sundays are days for the fiestas with music and the famous dancing horses from other Ranchos.

Without a word, he set down his guitar and moved into the kitchen with Paco. We decided it was time to try a taco or two. Paco took our order and Heriberto poured me another liberal cup of vino. We watched in fascination as the fire was tended with oak. The heat of the stove would be great on winter days, but was just a bit warm today. A cowboy or two sauntered in and out, the wedding party was leaving and Bill was a hit as he promised photos next time he was out. We both experienced not only the warmth of the fire, but also the warmth and openness of the people. Perched on wooden benches we were served the tacos at the rough plank kitchen counter. They were hot and running with juice. The secret ingredient was fresh oranges squeezed over the meat while it simmered. The salsa was just spicy enough to go to my head. Paco shared slabs of homemade cheese from the ranches of Ojos Negros. While we ate we learned about life on the rancho by participating in it. Heriberto would come and go and I realized that I had gotten a more authentic interview without words. I am certain Heriberto knew this himself. Don’t talk, but share the moment.

Rancho El Tule kitchen

Something happens when you are in this moment in a setting like this. Sharing time with people close to the land, people who are content and happy in what they do. Men like Heriberto can remind us of what we might be missing in our attempts to produce more, make changes in order to acquire more of something we can’t quite name. It is very obvious that Heriberto lives the way that he does because it suits him. He works hard, but has the luxury of time filled with friends, music and good wine. Some would say these are the true riches of life.

Getting there

Follow the signs through Ensenada towards San Felipe and proceed onto highway 3. Rancho El Tule is approximately seven miles from downtown Ensenada. Watch for sign, Cava El Tule on the right. Across the street is the entrance with a small sign.

Martina's email: mteomaya(at)gmail.com

4.7 112 Reviews
  • user logo
    Charles Gee
    From logo

    Incredibly fast and painless. Paid about $180 for a month of coverage. It was easier than going on line.

  • user logo
    Chyla Nava
    From logo

    Great, easy to use service. I haven't had to file a claim (and hope I never have to) but the online portal is very easy to use, and it's...

  • user logo
    Kierian Kuklok
    From logo

    I have been a customer for years and when I really needed them they stepped up in every way. I had a freak accident to my car and they...

  • user logo
    Lourdes Montoya
    From logo

    Easy, fast, and affordable.

  • user logo
    Aj Cornejo
    From logo

    Reasonable prices and we thought best chance to actually get results if we needed them.

  • user logo
    Adrianna Dorsey
    From logo

    Great company, great prices, and even better customer service. We've lived in Baja for 7 years and have used them for the past 6years....

  • user logo
    Gary Counts
    From logo

    So convenient and easy to navigate thru the online process. I'll never use any other Mexican insurance service!

  • user logo
    Joey Digiovanni
    From logo

    Easy to work with 😉. Always courteous and helpful. Have used them for all trips to Mexico. Easy website to navigate

  • user logo
    Jolene Bibian
    From logo

    Shauna at Baja Bound was AWESOME!! We had specific questions about how to quote the policy based on our vehicle type and she was super...

  • user logo
    Rebecca Newell
    From logo

    Great service!

  • user logo
    Maria Elena Smith
    From logo

    Easy and affordable.

  • user logo
    Mehdi Fahid
    From logo

    I reapplied for my Baja Bound Mexican car Insurance yesterday and I spoke to Ms. Shauna. This lady processed my application quickly and...

  • user logo
    Benjamin Driebe
    From logo

    Absolutely fantastic, I already forgot her name because I have a terrible memory but the woman that helped me on the phone was wonderful,...

  • user logo
    richard carr
    From logo

    fast replies and great price!

  • user logo
    Juan Zuniga
    From logo

    I just would like to know if you guys are going to update the fastpass direction any soon, during the month of January the lane changed to...

  • user logo
    Richard Schweiger
    From logo

    Very professional, very helpful, great policy, I couldn't be happier with Baja Mexican Insurance, the friendly smiles and ease of it all in...

  • user logo
    Ryan Frisby
    From logo

    We use them every time we travel to Mexico. Luckily we have not needed their services yet but getting insurance through them is quick and...

  • user logo
    Jan Muhammad
    From logo

    I need a tourist visa for maxico I'm from pakistan help me sir

  • user logo
    Tracy Moore
    From logo

    Very easy, quick, and professional

  • user logo
    robert kepper
    From logo

    They are very good . There website doesn't show you need a title to bring a vehicle across the border.I was stopped and told I had to...

  • user logo
    Edilver Martinez
    From logo

    Our go to Baja car insurance, everytime we take a visit down south . Usually it's for a day trip either for a quick getaway with the family...

  • user logo
    Daniel “Dan M” Markofsky
    From logo

    Third time working with Baja Bound and they made it easy! Thanks!

  • user logo
    Steve Bender
    From logo

    Have never needed to use the insurance fortunately but the website always works great. Can buy a policy in about a minute.

  • user logo
    Jose Paez
    From logo

    Had a great experience getting insurance at Baja Bound, before I always stoped at the border to purchase my insurance, not anymore. By the...

  • user logo
    JUSTINE SERRANO
    From logo

    I purchased insurance through them & CHUBB for our trip to San Felipe. Unfortunately, we had to cancel due to our vehicle having an oil...

  • user logo
    Christian Minor
    From logo

    Team were on point, provided inside information, prices were great and they had my proposal already in the system when I called back....

  • user logo
    George
    From logo

    Excellent customer service

  • user logo
    Kellye Pummill
    From logo

    Fast and easy!

  • user logo
    Jennifer Toups
    From logo

    Baja Bound is and has been my go to Mexico insurance company. The website is extremely easy to use, keeps all your info for a quick...

  • user logo
    Cesar Lopez
    From logo

    Very convenient, great price !!

  • user logo
    Louis Schneidman
    From logo

    I had an awesome experience with Baja Bound. Family owned and highly personal, top notch customer service. I have total peace of mind...

  • user logo
    Phil Noble
    From logo

    If you’re looking for Mexican Insurance that you can trust and feel good about while traveling in Mexico, you’ve found the right place....

  • user logo
    Jeff Bunker
    From logo

    Great coverage options . Price buy and print policy , very quick and easy , highly recommend them when driving in Mexico

  • user logo
    Burrell DeVine
    From logo

    Easy to navigate and very competitively priced! I had to call in and add an additional day, they couldn't have been any more pleasant to...

  • user logo
    Nereyda Torres
    From logo

    Me gusta la asuguranza porque la puedes comprar por un dia y te asegura en Mexico por el tiempo que vas ya sea hasta por mes (Translated...

  • user logo
    james whitmer
    From logo

    Best insurance I've had so far

  • user logo
    Rail1riders
    From logo

    Quick, easy, well designed website and not just for Baja. Good rates for temporal residente gringos. We’re not living in Jalisco. Printed...

  • user logo
    Matt B
    From logo

    I always use Baja Bound to source my insurance while traveling to Mexico. Fortunately, I have not had to file any claims. I do appreciate...

  • user logo
    Refugio I. Rochin
    From logo

    Excellent online and by direct phone. Spanish and English with proven response to questions. Website is very informative about driving in...

  • user logo
    Kelly Carney
    From logo

    Yara is very helpful and explains everything. Love working with companies like this.

  • user logo
    Slumdog Gump
    From logo

    Changed some money. Good rate and friendly people.

  • user logo
    Jeff G
    From logo

    Went down to TJ June 11 2020 No problems going into TJ but the way back was a ordeal 6 hours in line to get back into the USA but no...

  • user logo
    don letson
    From logo

    Great renewal process, if only south Dakota would do the same for car registration.

  • user logo
    len buckholtz
    From logo

    SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD. OLD GUYS LIKE THAT. WILL DEFINITELY USE IN 6 MONTHS IF STILL RUNNING AROUND THE WILDS OF BAJA.

  • user logo
    Susana Judd
    From logo

    Easy, quick and fair prices. Easy to deal with if needed.

  • user logo
    Seismic Waterfinder
    From logo

    Very excellent service, needed insurance for Mexico, price was fair. The custumer service rep was Yara

  • user logo
    Nicolas Dervé
    From logo

    Very good ans very fast. We hope all will ben good if we need it.

  • user logo
    Blake Glassco
    From logo

    I will never drive south of the border without Baja Bound in my center console. I was in an accident a couple hours south of Ensenada and...

  • user logo
    JohnPaul Gemelli
    From logo

    Baja Bound could not have made it an easier ... also, I made a mistake and called them having to leave a message ... but, they called back...

  • user logo
    Jeff Brandt
    From logo

    so far so good, however I have read good things about them

  • user logo
    Sengoz N
    From logo

    SERIOUS.

  • user logo
    Kenneth Trass
    From logo

    Getting a policy was simple, Provided more than provider for price comparison.

  • user logo
    Esther Valencia
    From logo

    Super easy to purchase just the coverage you need when crossing the border in your own car. I especially appreciate the fact that I was...

  • user logo
    Larry Cottingham
    From logo

    Great service, very helpful people there.

  • user logo
    Luis Cortes
    From logo

    Easiest way to purchase insurance when traveling to Mexico. I have used their service for the last 7 years and it only gets easier and...

  • user logo
    j dougher ty
    From logo

    EZ Peasy insurance purchase. Great service every time I've used them. Had to cancel one time when my travel plans went away - no problem....

  • user logo
    Paul Niehouse
    From logo

    Extremely easy to acquire a policy. Many options available. Reasonable rates.

  • user logo
    Colin
    From logo

    Super-easy and instant. Very happy with initial purchase.

  • user logo
    Howard M Elster
    From logo

    2nd year with Chubb. No problems

  • user logo
    Cyndee Congrove
    From logo

    Great customer service, quick, friendly staff helpfully answered all questions, very patient with my learning curve on a new product. Would...

  • user logo
    Art Eugenio
    From logo

    I've had Baja Bound insurance for more that ten years now with thousands of miles logged in Baja. Fortunately, I've only had one fender...

  • user logo
    Gabe Matthews
    From logo

    Where do i start..... you dont know you have good insurance until you have to actually use it. I have had Baja Bound INS for over 5 years...

  • user logo
    keith berkley
    From logo

    Been going to baja for 45 years. This is best insurance company i have come accross.

  • user logo
    Ryan Perkio
    From logo

    I have been using BajaBound Insurance for 15 years - multiple trips per year. Their website is easy, their coverage is great, and the...

  • user logo
    RaMon McBride
    From logo

    I have not had any claims thus far so rating is based on ease of purchase.

  • user logo
    Larry French
    From logo

    By far the best service for Mex insurance in Baja. They are personally there for you if you have problems south of the border.

  • user logo
    Tudor Thomas
    From logo

    Baja Bound makes buying insurance for going south of the border as easy as it gets. The website is the easiest I have used and the staff...