Rancho Sol Y Barro is a warm, earthy, inviting winery hugging the gently sloping hills and valleys of Baja California's gorgeous Valle de Guadalupe. Its wondrous curving walls and soft colors make visitors feel instantly at home. The striking fresco mural on the wall of the wine "cava", seen from the entrance to the winery, captures surrounding mother nature in abstract.
Sol Y Barro was designed and built by hand in the natural "cob" style of construction, where builders use materials including clay, raw earth, recycled objects, sand, straw and water to create and hand-sculpt beautiful architectural masterpieces. Swiss born owner-designer Aime Desponds became fascinated with this unusual form of design in 2003 when he attended a workshop led by Linda and Ianto Evans. Falling in love with the feeling of working directly with mud to build, Desponds vowed that someday he would create his own cob dream house.
In 2005, Desponds and his wife purchased a uniquely beautiful tract of land in Valle de Guadalupe adjacent to the property of his cousins Natalia and Antonio Badan of Rancho El Mogor and Mogor-Badan Winery. It took him one year to complete his round house, the interior of which is now decorated with his original artwork.
Desponds then set to work creating an ideal cava, or wine cellar, creating curved walls two feet in width that are hand-sculpted and work in an ingenious way to retain the coolness of evenings in the Valley. His inventive design makes it possible to use natural air circulation as a cooling system.
Rancho Sol Y Barro now boasts its very own clay ovens, studio and a lovely vineyard where Desponds dry-farms Grenache grapes. Blending them with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and a splash of Petite Sirah, Desponds ages the mixture for one year in French oak barrels and produces a limited yearly run of one of the most acclaimed artisan wines in all of Mexico.
Called "Sol Y Tierra", his delicious blend retails for a very reasonable price and embodies much of what makes the Valle de Guadalupe so special. It has been heralded as "stunning" by Mexican wine expert Steve Dryden who goes so far as to say that Desponds is a "wizard" whose "skill in transforming raw materials into jewels is amazing".
Sol Y Tierra wine can be tasted or purchased in person at Rancho Sol Y Barro by appointment. An extremely warm and hospitable man, Aime Desponds welcomes guests to his ranch and sincerely enjoys sharing the beauty of his creative endeavors with his visitors.
Km. 87 Highway 3 Tecate-Ensenada
San Antonio de las Minas
Sources: Aime Desponds, Sol y Barro's Website