The crunch of gravel whispers peace and privacy. Right off the new Wine Road from San Miguel de Allende to Queretero. Guarded by three security checkpoints. Covid not allowed.
Mailen Obon is the woman winemaker here at the three intertwined properties of La Santisima Trinidad, Vinedos San Francisco and Vinedos San Lucas. Raised in Argentina, schooled in wine, and a great lover of equestrian sports. Her brief: create the first wines for these properties in the the Bajio, the high plains of Mexico.
Friends in Napa Valley say the Mexican wine scene is jumping in Baja California and the Valle de Guadalupe — but that’s as far south as American vintners think that grapes can flourish under the Mexican sun.
Terroir? The French concept of terroir and any sort of heritage grape tradition never developed in colonial central Mexico. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Spanish rulers decreed no Indios could drink wine; vineyards were only for Catholic priests. Wine culture was stunted and nearly died. Now, in the 21st century, wine lovers experiment boldly. A true Mexican wine struggles to emerge along the Wine Road in the cool altitude of the Bajio’s high plains.
Owners here buy a large plot of agricultural land with their house. Dues include monthly maintenance for the farm and vineyard. The land is put to use; potential profits are a training ground for young children.
Much like members of The Napa Valley Reserve at Meadowood in St. Helena, the owners can supervise harvest — a fun party with friends — or mix their grapes into the annual harvest. Young wines here sell for around $600 Pesos (about $30 US) with a 32,000 bottle production.
Vinedos San Lucas is one of three areas staged by a Mexican architect and property firm as a weekend home-base for family estates, with riding, biking, and first-class boutique hotels and restaurants.
The clubhouse area of San Lucas is near the luxurious polo field — an electric green glow in the distance — and the dressage areas at the contiguous Vinedos San Francisco.
Happily, here there are no weekend visitors racing from vineyard to vineyard tasting the different wines on offer. Any guests are carefully vetted for the very limited tasting program. And Vinedos demonstrates compliance with the most stringent Covid-19 protections of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato state.
Mailen Obon blends the “juice” of the three vineyard properties to develop wines that reveal an honest sense of place, a feel of the cactus-studded high plains of the Bajio; and a feel for the Latin American culinary tradition. She’s working on a delightful cabernet sauvignon. As Jonathan Miles of Garden & Gun wrote, her new cabernet sauvignon creates a new Mexican tradition for spicy foods:
“To harmonize her red wines with Mexican cuisine, she employs an old Italian technique called passito. ‘We dry the grapes under the sun to sunburn the tannins,’ she explains. ‘The sweeter tannins let the wine pair better with spicier foods.’ This nuance…shines brightest in her lush cabernet sauvignon, which conveys the smoky-savory-sweet notes of a mole sauce. It’s a smart, solid wine, though young; but more than that, it’s a solidly Mexican wine.”email
Mailen Obon’s Vinedos wine, lavender and olive oils can be found in San Miguel de Allende, at Zacateros #13.