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Guadalupe Valley’s days of wine and tacos are now

Baja boutique

Smoked duck, fried flour tortilla, chile de arbol sauce, and guacamole, paired with XikBal Cabernet blend.
Smoked duck, fried flour tortilla, chile de arbol sauce, and guacamole, paired with XikBal Cabernet blend.

You don’t have to look far to find Baja California’s influence on San Diego’s food-and-drink scene. Family-owned taco shops and mariscos trucks are hallmarks of our city’s culinary landscape. Seasonal, sea-and-farm-to-table Baja Med cuisine is increasingly featured on fine-dining menus, and Baja craft beers are slowly appearing in neighborhood brewpubs. South-of-the-border wines, however, remain almost entirely unrepresented on the San Diego table.

Located about an hour south of the border, Guadalupe Valley has become a destination for oenophiliacs over the past several years, thanks to its 90 or so world-class wineries, many of which have trumped highly acclaimed international competitions and garnered visits from celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain and Rick Bayless.

Hillcrest’s 7th Avenue Pub carries the widest selection of Baja wines outside of Mexico.

In fact, Baja’s wine country (which also includes the San Vicente and Santo Tomas valleys) dates back over 200 years and now supplies at least 1.2 million cases annually, or 90 percent of all wine produced in Mexico.

Despite their substantial output and quality, Baja wines rarely make it out of Mexico, owing largely to the high cost of hiring importers and distributors.

“Import taxes have killed the U.S. market,” adds Mark Broadfoot, a San Diego wine and fine-dining specialist, “offering very little value on a shelf or table this side of the border.”

Place

7th Ave Pub

711 University Avenue (at Whole Foods), San Diego

In the face of all this, 7th Avenue Pub (711 University Avenue, Hillcrest) recently debuted a Baja Med–inspired menu to complement over 20 Baja wines — the largest selection outside of Mexico.

“Many years ago, people never thought that Mexican food was going to be able to be paired with wine,” says chef Martín San Román, the internationally recognized tastemaker behind Tijuana eateries Tour de France, Rincon San Román, and, most recently, the Baja menu at 7th Avenue Pub.

Chef Martín San Román designed a menu of Baja Med–inspired bites to be paired with Valle de Guadalupe vintages.

“Well, now you can have the best Mexican wines with the best tacos, and that’s the new Mexican style of cuisine. It’s a true food made with a lot of passion and also with the heart.”

A September soirée at the Pub (located inside a Whole Foods grocery store) offered a taste of what the chef has in store, and it includes much more than just tacos.

The Scallop Fundido, for example, finds the bivalve baked in an iron skillet alongside wild mushrooms, three types of cheeses, served with fresh salsa and tortillas, and paired with a chardonnay from Monte Xanic, a pioneer of the boutique-winery movement in Baja.

“It was thanks to the efforts of many people that the valley started to develop,” says enologist Hans Backhoff Sr., who founded Monte Xanic Winery in 1987.

“When we started, there were only four or five wineries. Right now, there are hotels coming and there are many people who want to be part of the development of the valley, and we welcome that, but with certain order.”

Enologist Hans Backhoff Sr. talks about the Valley’s development.

Backhoff’s statement was in response to proposed changes in zoning regulations that would allow the development of shopping malls, golf courses, resorts, and housing complexes over nearly two-thirds of Guadalupe Valley. Despite a widely circulated petition that netted over 11,000 signatures in opposition, the Ensenada city council recently passed the measure in a surreptitious assembly.

Detractors say that new development will destroy the rural character of the valley and put a strain on its already limited infrastructure, while proponents see it as a boon for tourism.

Only time will tell what this means for the Valley, but for now, you can visit Baja’s pristine vineyards on your own or with groups such as Turista Libre, Club Tengo Hambre, and Baja Wine + Food.

Of course, you needn’t go any further than 7th Avenue Pub to whet your palate.

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Smoked duck, fried flour tortilla, chile de arbol sauce, and guacamole, paired with XikBal Cabernet blend.
Smoked duck, fried flour tortilla, chile de arbol sauce, and guacamole, paired with XikBal Cabernet blend.

You don’t have to look far to find Baja California’s influence on San Diego’s food-and-drink scene. Family-owned taco shops and mariscos trucks are hallmarks of our city’s culinary landscape. Seasonal, sea-and-farm-to-table Baja Med cuisine is increasingly featured on fine-dining menus, and Baja craft beers are slowly appearing in neighborhood brewpubs. South-of-the-border wines, however, remain almost entirely unrepresented on the San Diego table.

Located about an hour south of the border, Guadalupe Valley has become a destination for oenophiliacs over the past several years, thanks to its 90 or so world-class wineries, many of which have trumped highly acclaimed international competitions and garnered visits from celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain and Rick Bayless.

Hillcrest’s 7th Avenue Pub carries the widest selection of Baja wines outside of Mexico.

In fact, Baja’s wine country (which also includes the San Vicente and Santo Tomas valleys) dates back over 200 years and now supplies at least 1.2 million cases annually, or 90 percent of all wine produced in Mexico.

Despite their substantial output and quality, Baja wines rarely make it out of Mexico, owing largely to the high cost of hiring importers and distributors.

“Import taxes have killed the U.S. market,” adds Mark Broadfoot, a San Diego wine and fine-dining specialist, “offering very little value on a shelf or table this side of the border.”

Place

7th Ave Pub

711 University Avenue (at Whole Foods), San Diego

In the face of all this, 7th Avenue Pub (711 University Avenue, Hillcrest) recently debuted a Baja Med–inspired menu to complement over 20 Baja wines — the largest selection outside of Mexico.

“Many years ago, people never thought that Mexican food was going to be able to be paired with wine,” says chef Martín San Román, the internationally recognized tastemaker behind Tijuana eateries Tour de France, Rincon San Román, and, most recently, the Baja menu at 7th Avenue Pub.

Chef Martín San Román designed a menu of Baja Med–inspired bites to be paired with Valle de Guadalupe vintages.

“Well, now you can have the best Mexican wines with the best tacos, and that’s the new Mexican style of cuisine. It’s a true food made with a lot of passion and also with the heart.”

A September soirée at the Pub (located inside a Whole Foods grocery store) offered a taste of what the chef has in store, and it includes much more than just tacos.

The Scallop Fundido, for example, finds the bivalve baked in an iron skillet alongside wild mushrooms, three types of cheeses, served with fresh salsa and tortillas, and paired with a chardonnay from Monte Xanic, a pioneer of the boutique-winery movement in Baja.

“It was thanks to the efforts of many people that the valley started to develop,” says enologist Hans Backhoff Sr., who founded Monte Xanic Winery in 1987.

“When we started, there were only four or five wineries. Right now, there are hotels coming and there are many people who want to be part of the development of the valley, and we welcome that, but with certain order.”

Enologist Hans Backhoff Sr. talks about the Valley’s development.

Backhoff’s statement was in response to proposed changes in zoning regulations that would allow the development of shopping malls, golf courses, resorts, and housing complexes over nearly two-thirds of Guadalupe Valley. Despite a widely circulated petition that netted over 11,000 signatures in opposition, the Ensenada city council recently passed the measure in a surreptitious assembly.

Detractors say that new development will destroy the rural character of the valley and put a strain on its already limited infrastructure, while proponents see it as a boon for tourism.

Only time will tell what this means for the Valley, but for now, you can visit Baja’s pristine vineyards on your own or with groups such as Turista Libre, Club Tengo Hambre, and Baja Wine + Food.

Of course, you needn’t go any further than 7th Avenue Pub to whet your palate.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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