Finding just the right winery for a visit can be quite a task in the Guadalupe Valley as there are now over two hundred new wine tasting experiences. Cuatrocuatros is a one of a kind destination that offers unique opportunities for an entire weekend of fun. It is more than a brief winetasting stop. Travelers are given many opportunities beyond the sip of a ruby red. Luscious cloth tents for glamping, canopied restaurant serving gourmet dishes using local organic produce, a sky bar overlooking the Pacific and horseback riding to the beach. This is truly like venturing into the outback, but just off the free road from La Misión to Ensenada. Cuatrocuatros combines winetasting with luxury in nature’s landscape.
Cuatrocuatros is a very unique setting in the hills above the Pacific and represents an ecological statement. The winery was created with the commitment to make only the smallest footprint possible. The natural golden light filters through the cloth tents for overnight stays and the tented restaurant creates a warm experience of being on a luxurious bivouac. Solar power lights the evenings. The roads are not paved. If Cuatrocuatros disappeared tomorrow, it would take a very short time for Mother Nature to remove the human footprint. An awakening consciousness is found at the heart of this enterprise, “Looking after nature as it looks after us.”
Four impressive circular planting of vines, seen from above, looks like a four-leaf clover, thus the name. Cuatrocuatros. Art created by the vines themselves, brings up a meditative tradition of walking a labyrinth quietly to its center. Because of Cuatrocuatros proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Bahía Salsipuedes, the grapes grow at lower temperatures than most vineyards. This location has given a unique identity to their white wine. Cuatrocuatros boasts being “the only vintner in all of the Americas to be growing the green skinned grape so close to the sea. It is tricky here as the salt air and coastal fog touch the vines, but the chill of the air is conducive in making their Sauvignon Blanc with a signature taste. Last year’s bottling was so unique it sold out and we have to wait a whole year for the next bottling. These grapes grow at the top of a hill, overlooking the Pacific at nearly a 45-degree angle. Certainly, not the easiest for those who navigate and tend the vines. The reds are grown on the east side of the mountain to protect them from the direct influences of the Pacific. This produces wines known for the rich mineral content of soil and sea. Planted now are 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Tempranillo, 5% Cabernet Franc, 18% Sauvignon Blanc. Unique microclimates are created by small valleys and slopes. The soil is fertile with stony hills providing natural landscape and creating a one of a kind wine. Cuatrocuatros is proud of their agronomist and oenologist, claiming them, “the best in the country.”
The sunlight filters through an old oak tree, known to have been planted in 1904 by Mexican president, Porfirio Díaz. It throws shade onto two tall wooden fishing vessels brought from San Felipe and they are interesting icons as you drive in. Jorge Carlon has been my guide and he is in charge of Personal Relations. He is very excited about what he is doing. He says that he is the 11th generation of graduates from the University of Wine and Gastronomy in Ensenada. All the young people who work here are from the university and are delighted with this new opportunity in a prestigious profession that is relatively new in Baja California. Jorge is extremely personable and very well versed on the wine production. He escorts me through several tasting and informed me that they keep most of the reds in the French oak barrels for 40 months. Jorge likes the fact that “we have the luxury of time because we are not a commercial vineyard. We grow for our own use and we share with the travelers and guests.” The 2012 Reserve, a blend 50 % cabernet sauvignon and 50% cab franc was served. Deep ruby red glimmers, leaving long leggy streams on the glass. The nose fills with oak and tannins. The first sip has a slight bite of land and sea. It was quite sultry and expanded in the mouth with a dry finish. It is obvious it was lovingly held for a very long time. Jorge was pleased to urge the sampling of several items on the menu which featured organic and seasonal selections, such as the roasted carrot soup and the delicate spinach salad filled with surprises. For the Terra and Sea folks, tiny tender medallions of rib eye steak, accompanied with fresh shrimp morsels. Really quite impossible to describe in detail for it would require a whole page, just to begin.
Jorge would not let me go until he showed me the Buca Bar. Cuatrocuatros loves their natural wild life and honors the white tail deer, Buca, that have been roaming these hills for 10,000 years. On a well-maintained dirt road, we managed the climb up and over and down through the hills, until the stunning view opened up. The patio and bar area are more like visiting grandpa’s farm. Again, this represents the love of nature and walking softly. Stacks of hay bales create seating areas, old wooden spools for tables and an open-air kitchen. But don’t let the appearance fool you. That little kitchen can put out some of the most tantalizing appetizers to accompany the wine. It is an adventure in eating. My favorite - tiny handmade tortillas filled with chunky Chorizo, topped with a fresh octopus’s tentacle. Totally worth the drive up the hill! As we munched, sipped and mused watching the sun cross the sky, setting fire to the sea, Jorge points out that visitors can take a trail by horseback, down the mountain and through a mysterious tunnel to the beach below. This is a story in itself. Because of this natural beauty, it is a favorite for weddings, as well as long afternoons, drinking in a particular kind of stillness that happens only when man is secondary to beauty.