L.A. Cetto Winery - Tijuana
A friend of mine who worked in wine retail for a while used to hand-sell Beringer White Zinfandel. It's not that he thought it was particularly good. It's that he was looking beyond what the customer wanted -- which was, basically, White Zinfandel. For my friend, massive sales of Beringer White Zin contributed to Beringer's general well-being, and that boded well for the production of the winery's excellent Reserve Cabernet at a semi-sane price point. He respected the model — cash flow from below, allowing for worry-free artistry at the top.
It's the model prized — and of late, imitated — by Camillo Magoni, winemaker at Baja's largest winery, L.A. Cetto. It's tempting to compare Magoni with Napa's Robert Mondavi — the shared Italian heritage, the rather iconic status, the promotion of the region's industry as a whole. (Magoni, in his unusual way, has got to be one of the best advocates for Mexican wine in the U.S.: a number of San Diego wineries get their fruit from his vineyards.) But where Mondavi broke away from the family business and started up his own empire, Magoni has stayed put at the same winery where he started in the early '70s.... +more