When Ricardo Hussong decided to plant a vineyard 820 meters above sea level in the Valle de Ojos Negros, a lot of people told him that he was crazy. At the time it was widely believed that the land he'd chosen for his Bodegas y Vinedos San Rafel winery was incapable of producing excellent wine; that its air was too cold and the vines would not thrive in that terrain.
Not to be deterred Hussong, along with his extended family, planted seven hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah grapes in 2000. "It started off as an experiment," he describes, "Backed by the confidence that the fertile land in that valley with its pure water and good weather would produce a superb quality harvest".
Hussong believed that the high altitude would bless, rather than harm, his vines. With a consistent cycle of warm days and cold nights, he felt that the harvested fruit would offer a good balance of sugar and acidity.
In 2002, he and winemaker brother Ludwing Hussong decided to take their biggest risk yet and planted the first Pinot Noir grapes ever grown in Baja California.
One year later they harvested their first grapes which they used to produce wine for their flagship label - the Passion Meritage ~ an intensely fruity blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot with the aromas of cassis, black cherry and raspberry. Aged 18 months in barrels of French and Eastern European oak, with 6 more months in the bottle, this elegant fruit-forward wine is known for its complexity, structure, balance and velvety texture.
Since then, Bodegas San Rafael has continued to couple innovation and vision with classic enology and production techniques. Their wines have won many awards and medals from competitions both within Mexico and around the world. Today, Ricardo Hussong is viewed with great respect by his peers as a pioneer in the industry who not only enriched the land of Baja California but also contributed to the crop diversity of the region.
Today, the Hussong-Maymes family produces multiple offerings on 17 hectares in addition to the popular Passion Meritage ~ including Alegria, Delierio Cabernet Sauvignon, Ojos Negros, Ojos Negros Gran Reserva, and Syrah.
Led by the passion, dedication and vision of Ricardo Hussong, Bodegas y Vinedos San Rafael looks toward a bright future and leads by example with the hope that soon many aspiring winemakers will recognize and appreciate the tremendous potential of Baja California's Valle de Ojos Negros.