Travelers and wine lovers will be immediately captivated by the long gravel drive, majestic trees, cheerfully colored building and flowing arches of boutique winery Viñas de Liceaga. This Valle de Guadalupe treasure is flanked by massive oaks many of which have stood for 500 years!
Viña de Liceaga has a rich history. Its founder Eduardo Liceaga Campos was during his lifetime a passionate connoisseur of wine who dedicated himself in his later years to growing, producing, marketing and promoting high quality Mexican wines. Introduced to international wines at a young age by his grandfather, Liceaga dreamed for years of owning his own vineyard. Upon retirement in 1983 he and his wife Myrna purchased fifty acres of land and brought their family to San Antonio de las Minas, a beautiful hamlet nestled in the western edge of Valle de Guadalupe along its famed "Ruta del Vino." Once called Rancho el Paricutin, their beautiful ranch property is now widely known as Viña de Liceaga.
Don Liceaga was a man of vision. When he and his family arrived, they started out farming table grapes with 10,000 plants. With dedication and love he worked over many years to evolve as a grower and producer. By the early 1990s the Liceaga family had developed grafting techniques to convert their vines to grow wine grapes, and in 1998 they bought the equipment needed to actually produce wines on their own property. Over a decade later, the Viña de Liceaga label is well known throughout Mexico and beyond for fine wines which include its Gran Reserva and Vino Tinto. In 2002 the winery was honored at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with the title "Best of the Nation" (Mexico).
Since his passing in 2007, Eduardo's widow Myrna has continued to operate and expand the family business with the able assistance of winemaker Juan Pedro Mendivil and noted enologist/consultant Dr. Enrique Ferro. Pedro brings a strong background in chemistry and prior work for Domecq to his position. He collaborates closely with Ferro to bring forth magic from the grapes, maximizing their finest qualities to capture the essence of the terroir in each bottle. From harvesting and bringing perfect fruit to their warehouse to the actual fermentation, maceration, aging and bottling - each step along the way is undertaken carefully with much thought and attention to detail. Visitors to Viña de Liceaga may get a sense of this commitment to quality when they participate in the guided "behind the scenes" tour offered on weekends or by appointment.
Liceaga produces outstanding blends aged in barrels of French and American oak, using varietals which include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot and Syrah. Award winner Gran Reserva ~ a delectable mixture of Merlot and Cabernet Franc ~ is perhaps the best known. Liceaga also has the distinction of being the sole winery to create and sell its own Grappa in all of Mexico! Called Aqua de Vid, the distilled spirit is made from fermented, pressed black grape pomace aged for three years in American oak barrels.
In the last several years, Viña de Liceaga has expanded with the creation of a wine and culinary center which includes an airy tasting room with an elegant bar, private reserve cellar and modern kitchen. Brightly lit thanks to the skillful use of natural light, the tasting room is very inviting. Guests choose from tasting packages which range from "One red, one white" to the very reasonably priced "A white, four reds... and Grappa!" Manager Marisa Segovia and her talented team strive to provide world class customer service while continuing Don Liceaga's heartfelt mission to educate the public about excellent wine and gourmet food. The on-site outdoor restaurant offers simple, superb fare including grilled meats, out-of-this-world tacos and handmade flour tortillas on weekends.
Heart, dedication and hard work are central to the success of Viña de Liceaga. From those who appreciate fine wine and a lovely atmosphere to those who admire a wonderful success story, all visitors to this family winery will leave impressed.
Km. 93 carretera Tecate Ensenada
San Antonio de las Minas
Sources: Viña de Liceaga Website, Mexidata, Baja Wine articles