Baja California seems like the perfect place to recreate that Italian sense of wine. Both are peninsulas with rolling hills of heat and fresh ocean breezes, perfect for a multitude of grape varieties. Food is central to the culture, like it is in Italy, with most Mexicans in the area practicing some sort of agriculture, aquaculture, or livestock herding. Finally, both have a bustling tourist industry more than ready to accommodate wine loving visitors.
Mark my words, Baja California is on the rise as a wine destination.
My dear pal took me to Baja’s wine country – the Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada – to lunch under the pine trees at Drew Deckman’s new seasonal restaurant at the charming Mogor Badan winery…there is no dearth of fine eateries in the Ensenada area.
And all take full advantage of what the region offers including organic produce; regional cheeses in both the farm and European styles; hand-crafted wines that are winning accolades throughout the world, and meats and seafood that are cultivated locally.
The United States is the second greatest tourist draw in the world, with 60-million-plus visitors in 2010 alone (France, number one, attracted almost 80 million). Flipping through a few of the many English-language tourist guides provides a fascinating, if non-scientific and narrow, window into how people from the outside world perceive America, Americans, and the surprises and pitfalls of spending time here.
Of the many pieces of advice proffered, four of the most common are: eat with your fingers (sometimes), arrive on time (always), don’t drink and drive (they take it seriously here!), and be careful about talking politics (unless you’ve got some time to spare).
…some sage advice on a ritual that even I did not realize was so complicated until I read this passage:
When invited to a meal in a private home it is considered polite for a guest to ask if they can bring anything for the meal, such a dessert, a side dish, or for an outdoor barbecue, something useful like ice or plastic cups or plates. The host will usually refuse except among very close friends, but it is nonetheless considered good manners to bring along a small gift for the host. A bottle of wine, box of candies or fresh cut flowers are most common. Gifts of cash, prepared ready-to-serve foods, or very personal items (e.g. toiletries) are not appropriate.