Trevista is a hidden gem in the foothills of the Guadalupe Valley. It is a shining example of a very unique method for creating the perfect Tempranillo varietal. The lateral tasting is paired with delightful gourmet tapas. Trevista is booked fairly far in advance for large groups; however, there might be room for you and a friend by calling ahead. It is well worth putting Trevista on your “I want to do list.”
Turn north off of Emiliano Zapata, onto a luxurious and newly paved road where many wineries are found. Following the signs take a right on a long dirt road, passing an equestrian rancho and Quinta Monasterio. Continuing on, it appears the road dwindles to only dusty ruts, until I finally see the Trevista settlement. The shade of the graceful pepper trees is welcomed in the hot summer sun. Hilda Pacheco-Taylor comes out to greet us, as if already part of the family, while her husband, James Taylor, is entertaining a wedding group, friends of their son, Tony. We are included with old world graciousness into the festivities. The banquet table is ready and waiting for us. It is a lovely setting for 20. The Pacific is 14 miles away and yet its breeze cools the shaded patio. However, first we will be treated to a tour, being inspired by the commitment this family has made to producing the perfect Tempranillo.
We follow James out to the edge of his vineyard, three thousand vines produce three thousand bottles of the single varietal, Tempranillo. He is very clear why he has chosen to begin his vineyard in this way. He wants perfection, not mass production. “I am not here to make money, I am here to perfect the art of winemaking. Good wine starts with good soil,” he states. This is where James reveals the truth of his commitment. No detail is spared, starting with the soil. He has refined the soil of his vineyard by introducing earthworms into this semi aired region. The first step is to raise the earthworms fed with the scraps of food from the kitchen, creating rich castings. This creates rich soil. James spins his tale of how they dug down ten inches into the hard pack and introduced the soil with active worms. I am in wonder of the alchemy of nature. The vines were then planted. Earthworms work 24/7. Dry hay is spread through the entire vineyard. “This does several things. It radiates the sunshine up into the vines and grape clusters and at the same time holds in the moisture.” James excitedly instructs, “Go ahead, dig down with your fingers and see! See how it is warm just on top, but the deeper you go the soil cools.” Taking it one step further into ecological magic, an “earthworm tea” is made from the castings. This is used to spray the vines, as well as used for watering the plants. It becomes the best fertilizer and natural pesticide there is.
Making our way down into the little cava, the bottles are stacked waiting to be carried to the table for our wine tasting. This will be a lateral tasting, meaning we will be given the opportunity to experience how different yearly harvests can be by experiencing the one varietal. This is seldom offered in the valley today and gives a real appreciation of how wines change according to nature’s whims. Winemakers are forever challenged to keep up with what nature offers. First of course, you have to start with the best grapes planted in the best soil. The other factors are often not something that the winemaker can control; the natural elements of air, rain and heat. These elements will change the wine in many ways. We will taste, with our pairings from Hilda’s kitchen, harvest years 2012, 2015 and 2016. As we all chat, Tony tells us the admiration he has for his father and mother. He truly appreciates the legacy that he will one day inherit. Both James and Hilda still work full time, so it is an extraordinary lifestyle they are currently living. James has 46 years in shipping out of Long Beach, California and Hilda is the founder of “Corazón de Vida” an organization that funds Mexican orphanages. She was in fact an orphan herself in La Misión. Today, there are fifty children in school because of her outreach, raising a million dollars a year for the children of northern Baja. Somehow out of this couples love and passion for life, they have the energy to present for us this amazing experience of wine and food pairing. As we leave the cava, James hands each woman two bottles to carry to our table.
Ever the great storyteller, James pours the 2015 Tempranillo, and grins, “We serve the women first, because men have to learn patience. Good things come to those who are patient.” He points out that they use titanium crystal glasses, which is unheard of in most wineries in the valley. It does actually make a difference in the elegant presentation. Excited chatter is briefly silenced as we follow James’ tutelage about “wine tasting 101” and the proper way to really enjoy a tasting. Hilda announces her first tapas presentation and from then on the delightful artistic combinations flow from the kitchen. First, as a palate cleanse, a layered cheese with a thin slice of tamarind and walnut. Followed by toast points, caramelized Brie with a drizzle of spicy guava marmalade. The wine was stunning, first in sight, then aroma and finally the taste, deep, rich and ever so lush.
Next came surprising “sushi” thin zucchini wraps paired with the 2012 unfiltered Tempranillo. There was very little residue and presented with an explosion of life. Patrick, a wine importer from Washington state, was seen savoring the tasting, eyes closed with pure attention. Later he declared, "With a fastidious attention to detail found only amongst the wildest, passionate, and most sensitive among us, James Taylor is crafting a Tempranillo which can easily play on the same field as the best wines of the world. World class in every regard, his Tempranillo is one of the finest you'll find the world over."
The guests, now feeling like family, began to vote on their favorite, as Hilda offered the exquisite watermelon sorbet in tiny cups with a touch of lemon chutney and feta cheese crumbles in a symphony of flavors followed by a surprise note of mint. We finish with 2016 and we are amazed about how much we loved it, even though it is the youngest. It was friendly, smoky with dark berry.“Mega good” was one comment and “as happy a wine as I’ve ever tasted.” We accept James’ offer of a second pour. It is quiet now after the guests leave and in the stillness the full experience is savored. All senses have been filled. Leaving will be difficult, but this liquid gem of an experience can be carried home in a bottle.