January of this year found Ursula and me taking a cruise we’ve done several times before, a short three- to four-day excursion from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and Ensenada, Mexico. This was actually the second of back-to-back cruises aboard the same ship, and it followed a ten-day cruise we’ve now done three times into the Sea of Cortez. On this trip we did something a bit different, however, thanks to Joyce Verette.
Joyce is a fellow member of Cruise Critic, and she put together a wonderful day tour of the Ensenada wine country, which is actually in the nearby Valle de Guadalupe. The tour company was Baja Test Kitchens, and the co-owner (along with wife Jen) and operator is Chris Meija, who personally gave us the tour. This tour was an all-day affair, taking us to three wineries with a gourmet lunch at the third before returning us to the ship.
The first winery on this somewhat gray and drizzly day was Château Camou. Fortunately, wine tasting is mostly an indoor sport. Unfortunately, gray skies rain and landscape photography do not mix very well. But wine is why we came, and we certainly were not disappointed in Chris’ selection of vintners.
Château Camou has a rich history. It was started by a gentleman who learned his craft in France’s Bordeaux region, and who would later revolutionize the design of wineries, Dr. Victor Torres-Alegre. Needless to say, Camou’s Bordeaux-style reds were quite good, and the whites also did not disappoint.
Our tour began and ended in the tasting room, where we were given many samples to try. In between we toured the wine making operation and the bottle storage facility:
Not really relevant to the tasting, but a nice touch, were the bottle- and cork-centric decorations in the tasting room:
Only a short drive, less than ten minutes, separated our hearty crew from Château Camou and the next winery on the tour, but it was an interesting drive. The road was rain saturated, slick, and extremely bumpy, but the drive through the vineyards and then up a hill to a Bodega with spectacular views was well worth it ride.
This facility was much more modern looking than either the preceding Château Camou or the winery that was to follow, but more on that later. This was Las Nubles Winery and Vineyard, and the buildings definitely had a Tuscan flair. You’ll get to see the exteriors on Wednesday’s article. For now let’s talk about the wine tasting.
Whereas Château Camou favors the Bordeaux style, Las Nubes relies heavily on grapes more often associated with Spain (Tempranillo and Carignan), northern Italy (Nebbiolo), and the southern Rhone (Grenache/Garnacha) in blends with other Bordeaux grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m rather a sucker for a really good GSM, but this stop was not it. The wines were interesting, but the consensus was that Las Nubes’ offerings were not the best of the tour. Nevertheless, they weren’t bad and the scenery more than made up for any shortcomings.
The tasting room has glass views on two sides with great views of the surrounding hills, the vineyards below, and even an orange orchard. The room itself has a wood-slated high ceiling. In addition to wines, the tasting also included cheese and other nibbles. Nice touch.