Photos courtesy of Bodegas F. Rubio
One of the best things about living in San Diego is the proximity to Baja California. Within 30 minutes you can be in frenetic Tijuana, bursting with excellent restaurants and a vibrant arts and culture scene. Just two hours away lies Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s premier wine region. The valley has design hotels, farm-to-table restaurants and, of course, wineries. The wines are known for having a salted-plum taste. To me, the reds come across as being salty and tannic. They make my lips purse and I don’t find them to be particularly nuanced. I’m happy to report that increasingly, I am finding wines that I really like. One winery in Valle de Guadalupe that I believe produces extremely high quality wines is Bodegas F. Rubio.
The family-owned winery began as a retirement plan in the mid 2000s. The Rubio’s planned to grow grapes and sell them. They planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec in their clay loam soil. After several years, cousin Alberto Rubio, who had worked as a winemaker at Mogor Badan, convinced them to build a winery. They invested in high quality equipment and began making their own wines which they started selling in 2014.
When I visited, I sampled a number of Bodega F. Rubio’s wines including the Herencia Blanco, Herencia Tinto, Malbec and Reserva 2014, an elegant blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. The white, a blend of Palomino and Chenin Blanc, was fresh and citrusy. The Malbec was earthy and round. Bodegas F. Rubio’s water comes from the mountains and filters its way naturally through the slopping vineyard plots. I think this helps them avoid the salinity found in many Valle wines. The Rubio’s have designed their vineyard to produce four tons per hectare, most wineries in Valle de Guadalupe produce 10 to 12 tons per hectare. This results in bold grapes and complex wines.
Nearly every member of the Rubio family is involved in the project and I think this love and passion, along with small production, results in their superior wines. Even the labels portraying stylized elephants are a nod to family. “Elephants work in packs as we the entire family are doing in the project,” says Francisco Rubio the son in charge of marketing and sales.
Bodegas F. Rubio is open for tastings and it also has an excellent bistro style restaurant. The chef is another son. Alex Rubio creates excellent wine pairing menus using organic fruits and vegetables as well as local seafood and meats. When we dined there we ate local cheese and charcuterie, sea snail ceviche, tender octopus on a crispy potato and flawless pork ribs wth sweet and tender meat that fell off the bone.
What to take home:
Callejón de la Liebre Parcela #70 Ejido El Porvenir, B.C. 22755