pixel

Domecq

Domecq

Baja's First Commercial Winery

The free road begins at La Fonda and meanders through the small towns of Santa Anita and La Misión. This area holds the history of the Kumiai Indians and the missionaries who planted their grapes vines for the sacrament. This was the original trail, before the toll road was built along the Pacific. The two lane road then winds its way up the side of a mountain that stays shadowy and damp, lush with fern and wildflowers. As rain turns the hills into a massive carpet of green with yellow wild mustard and orange poppies, the drive to the Guadalupe Valley becomes enchanting. Blue skies with great white mounds of clouds are the backdrop behind layers of dark mountain ranges to the highest peak, Sierra Blanca. The entire drive to the historic Domecq winery gives abundant photo opportunities at every turn.

At the far eastern end of what is thought as the Guadalupe valley is the lesser known part of the larger valley called Valle de Calafia. The road, which has been fully paved, allows for a swift drive from the turn off on to Highway #3’s Ruta del Vino east. In ten minutes we arrive at Baja California’s first commercial winery which is now under new ownership. For a number of years it was not open to the public, but was still producing and distributing wine. There is some confusion about which winery is actually the oldest. When speaking of the Guadalupe Valley it is Domecq that was first in commercial production and open to the public. Then LA Cetto followed in 1974. The oldest winery in all of Baja California is in fact Santo Tomas, but its origins put it outside of the now famous Guadalupe Valley. The late Pedro Domecq, who was a member of the centuries-old Spanish family renowned for its sherries and ports, left Spain for Mexico to start out on his own. He eventually established the brandy business, an affiliate of Pedro Domecq Spain. In 1948, the Mexican government banned the import of luxury goods such as wine, encouraging Casa Pedro Domecq to establish the winery and distillery in Baja California. Domecq de Mexico was a world leader among brandy producers, with its Presidente and Don Pedro brands. When moving into the wine country, they began to make their first table wines in 1969 from grapes grown in the state of Zacatecas. Early Baja travelers might remember the sweeter Padre Kino wines in the smart reusable carafe bottles.

Casa de Piedra

In an article from the San Diego Reader written in 1988 by Jeannette DeWyze, she wrote that a spokesman had said the plant was producing nearly 5 million gallons of wine, adding that this “puts it on a par with such California wineries as Sebastiani and Mondavi…and could go head to head against many of Napa venerable estates.” They now produce over 90,000 thousand cases of wine, sold mostly within Mexico. Domecq has recently been purchased by overseas interests, who undertook a major remodel and reopened in October 2018. The tasting room has a daunting flight of stairs, but once atop the landing, affords a great view and modern décor. With insight the architect utilized the massive granite boulders for a dramatic outdoor terrace.

Miguel greets me and invites me in for a wine tasting. I inform him this is “work” for me, saying, “Well, you know, someone has to do it,” and we both laugh, knowing how lucky we are to be here. Miguel finished up his college degree in culinary school in Ensenada. But with an eye on the future, realized he would be smart to make his way into the flourishing wine industry in the valley. He presents the first of four tastings, XA Blanco, a young white that does not pass through the barrel. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Miguel points out that with the new owner and the insightful Trace Rojas as Manager of Tourism the upgrades included new labels which are more distinctive and eye catching. The XA Blanco has a freshness that is distinctive, without the effects of the wood barrels. It is a summer wine, fresh and meant to enjoy. With a price of $6 a bottle, it certainly fits the bill for a picnic on the beach.

Miguel and I chat about winemaking and wanting to convey to visitors the full scope of what goes into making a good bottle of wine. “It starts in the fields. Without those men and women who toil under a hot September sun to pick the fruit by hand, we would not have any wine.” To make a glass of wine it starts with the soil and a good quality grape. “You don’t make good wine out of inferior grapes,” and Miguel pours the Chateau 2017 with 9 month in French oak. It is a blend of Chardonnay and a French grape, encuentr. Oh, that touch of the French grape makes this a lovely Chardonnay. It is complex, lightly buttery with a tart finish. This makes me recall a line from the movie Bottle Shock when Steven Spurrier quotes Galileo Galilei, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

Visiting the Guadalupe Valley wineries can be like going to wine school. Miguel is one who can teach as well as be a friendly host. How important it is for any vintner to put bright young local people behind the tasting bar. Miguel pours Reserva Real 2016, a blend of Cabernet and Barbera varietals. This is an interesting process as the Cabernet is held one year in French oak, but the Barbera is fermented and then put into stainless steel tanks for only two weeks. Barbera spends no time in the barrel and is blended with the aged Cabernet. A sharp palate can pick up the distinctive freshness of fruit with the smoky wood of the Cab. Miguel gives credit to their visionary wine maker Alberto Verdeja who has guided the wine production in unique directions for seven years.

Casa de Piedra

The fourth and last tasting is the Chateau vino tinto, 2016. It is blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Barbara with one year in French oak and held one year in the bottle before opening. “This is my favorite,” says Miguel, “It is sexy and charming.” We laugh at the youthful description and one could say it was intense and at the same time delightful with its mature fruit, elegant tannins and a touch of chocolate. This is certainly a wonderful blend for a price of only $15 US. And I must say that Domecq is producing wonderful very drinkable wine with a competitive market price.

There is a tour upon request with the wine tasting. The formable building is a fortress to honor the history of Domecq, while it also is part of the production. There are huge oak vats and smaller oak barrels to fill a central area. The décor gives a historic presence to go along with the story of how it all began. The tour moves through chambers and small vault where dust-covered bottles are held in private reserves. Miguel points to the brushed metal wall empty of the AX Blanco, “One person came in today and bought three cases.” It is quite obvious after Domecq’s long history it intends to compete by placing itself in a perfect niche in today’s wine market, offering good wine at a fair market value.

Article by Martina
Photography by Cintia Soto


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...