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Oliver Quintero

Hidden Gem Found In La Bufadora

Whenever I think of food sold in the Bufadora area, fish tacos, seafood cocktails and churros come to my mind. BajaMed cuisine is something that never crosses my mind.

That all changed last week when my wife and I visited La Bufadora Tequila Grill, which, judging solely by its name,  seemed to have even more of the same; the name somehow evoques fish tacos and margaritas in my experience, but oh my god was I wrong!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were met by the owner, Alex Malpica, popular in the area as a resident of the Rosa Negra Ranch, one of the most popular properties in the area, having already been featured in 4 movies. In contrast to the fabulous property he calls home, I was not impressed with the restaurant, which seems to have a funky ambiance; I asked Alex about it and he said that he just wants to maintain a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere to his restaurant.

Alex told us that he came here from the US several years ago, retiring from the restaurant industry over there, and decided to acquire this restaurant. For many years it did very well, selling the usual combination of affordable Mexican dishes that are a staple for Bufadora tourists, but about a year ago Alex had an idea: What if he could bring food similar to the meals served in the wine valley to his Bufadora restaurant.

It seemed like an impossible idea. How would he even begin to succeed in such a daunting task, but in the process of searching for a solution, he met local Chef Temo Cortez. Temo brought to the table exactly what Alex was looking for, being an experienced chef who could create fine BajaMed cuisine at his restaurant.

Alex is not an easy man to impress, in my opinion; it’s even harder to impress him in the restaurant industry, as he has more than 40 years of experience in that area; so naturally I was very curious about Chef Temo that he talked so highly of.

Since I’m more easily impressed by actions than by words, I listened to what the pair had to say but decided to reserve my opinion until I tasted the food there.

We asked for a menu and got a letter sized sheet with about 14 different dishes, we decided on the shrimp, aguachile style, and a Tomahawk steak.

While we waited, Alex explained that one of his passions was Tequila, and that he makes his own Extra Añejo tequila, for which he has recently started distribution in the States. While we waited for our food we tasted two of his tequilas, Xedda and Escortauro, which were very good.

Chef Temo surprised us with an octopus tentacle appetizer, served sizzling in a mini iron pan. As soon as the plates arrived, I was impressed with the presentation; here I am thinking that I’m once again going to be let down with the food at one more restaurant, and this beautifully constructed plate comes to our table, and when I tasted it, oh my god, the savory, meaty, octopus just instantly takes me to the Valley; this is actually wine valley food, I say to myself.

A couple minutes later the shrimp aguachile comes, nope, it was definitely not your typical Mexican seafood restaurant aguachile, this one had a very subtle flavor, acidic but very well balanced. Later I learned that this was achieved by chef Temo by adding white wine and olive oil to the green chili and lemon juice. The presentation was immaculate, adorned with Salicornia and beet sprouts, which also helped bring the flavors of the plate together.

A few minutes after we finished with the shrimp, the Tomahawk was brought to the table. Another one of Temo’s gems, beautifully presented, cut into pieces, with the bone still left on the plate. By that time, after the first two dishes, I was already expecting greatness and I was not disappointed; in fact, I was once again impressed. The steak was beautifully accompanied by a dab of Oaxacan mole with balsamic, and roasted vegetables

When we finally finished the steak, we were already stuffed, but we opted for the  crème brûlée anyway, it was a great finish to our meal.

The Bufadora Tequila Grill is located on KM 22.5, on the road to La Bufadora, just a few meters before getting to the arches that mark the start of La Bufadora. They open Tuesdays from 12:00pm to 8:00pm and Wednesday to Sunday, from 8:30am to 8:00pm. BajaMed style cuisine is only available from 2pm to 8pm, and Sundays all day. ,

Que Pasa In Baja?

Tijuana-Tecate Passenger Train Announced. Mario Escobedo, head of the state economy and tourism office, said that the Tijuana-Tecate passenger train is already in the works with an initial investment of $136 million USD for a 17-mile section.

He stated that the train would be a secure, sustainable option to connect with Tijuana and Tecate, with seven stations and two terminals. A minimum of 30,000 passengers are expected to use the train every day.

This project should not be confused with the existing tourism train that goes from Tijuana to Tecate (pictured above).

Initially, the project considered a route to Ensenada. And although the plan hasn’t been cancelled, Escobedo stated that “it’s not a priority right now”, mainly because the current state government administration will only last two years and will not be able to finish a project of such magnitude.

Ensenada Mayor Under Hot Water. Armando Ayala Robles, mayor of Ensenada, found himself in hot water this past week after local councilwoman Brenda Valenzuela protested about how he has been stamping his name in cement while still fresh in several public works.

Valenzuela stated that article 134 of the Mexican constitution clearly states that a person in public office cannot publicize himself in the public works they perform. “It’s also a very bad parody of the Walk of Fame in Hollywood”, said Valenzuela.

Baja Launches Tourism Campaign. In order to reactivate the local economy, which is being severely affected by COVID-19, the state of Baja California launched a promotional campaign named “Disfruta Baja California & Drive South” to attract tourists from California and Arizona.

“We are preparing for, when the time comes, promoting our state’s natural, cultural and gastronomic richness, in order to attract tourists that can drive over here and increase traffic to the most important tourist sites in Baja”, said Mario Escobedo, head of Economy and Tourism for the State.

The main objective of the campaign is to support the tourism sector in its reactivation, as well as to make people want to rediscover Baja or visit it for the first time.

Abandoned Ship To Be Unloaded Soon. The “Triumph” cargo ship, which has been abandoned since 2017 in the coasts of Ensenada due to a lengthy legal battle in England, is being finally unloaded soon, the Mexican Navy announced.

The Triumph has been reported to contain 47,000 tons of bauxita, a rock that is processed to obtain aluminum, and about 270 tons of high sulfur fuel. The ship has been all over local news lately as it was discovered that it has been slowly sinking due to the lack of maintenance.

It has been reported by local environmentalist groups that if the ship would completely sink, and the cargo and fuel would spill, a dangerous ecological disaster would ensue in the Ensenada bay.

Independence Celebrations Will be Online. The different independence celebrations in the cities of Baja California will be performed without public attendance, but will be available for viewing live online on social media.

Every year on September 15th, independence is celebrated with the traditional “grito” or shout, where mayors, governors and the president of Mexico go out to their balconies of their city hall and shout “Viva Mexico!” in front of a huge public audience that goes on to enjoy several cultural shows and dine on  traditional Mexican food.

On September 16th, a civilian and military parade goes through the most important streets of our cities, but this year it will be severely limited due to the pandemic, so authorities are encouraging people to watch it online instead.

Mexican Army Seizes Drug Load Valued at $16 million USD. Soldiers from the Mexican Army seized a massive load of  various drugs in the La Rumorosa area in Tecate.

The illicit drugs were found in an uninhabited area about 6 miles south from the town of La Rumorosa.

The army reported that 1 ton of crystal meth was found, along with 6 kilos of powdered fentanyl and 5,000 pills of that same drug. About 5.3 kilos of heroin and 4 gallons of marihuana (THC) oil were also found.

The army stated that the bust would considerably affect the financial structure of local crime organizations since the total street value of the drugs was about $16 million USD.

The drugs were found abandoned on a dirt road when the military was doing a surveillance drive through the area. No arrests were made in connection with the drugs.

No in-person classes for Baja. Governor Jaime Bonilla stated this week that students will continue with virtual classes at least for the remainder of the current school cycle, which continues until July 2021.

He said that public schools will use this time to maintain and improve school facilities.

Baja California has 639,452 students registered for virtual classes, from K to 12.

Labor Day increases hotel occupancy. There was a slight increase in occupancy in the Labor Day weekend of 11%, much less than the normal increase during that weekend, but a much needed increase for our area.

About 194,000 tourists visited our state, and brought just about $40 million USD to local businesses.

Que Pasa In Baja?

Local University Gets Paid. After numerous problems with the last State Government, the UABC autonomous state university system is finally receiving the 81 million USD that was pledged to it by the federation but was held up by the state in the past administration.

Governor Bonilla announced that he not only would he pay up the money but that he would offer space in the government center in Zona Rio to create a new campus.

Coronavirus Update. Oscar Perez Rico, head of the state health office, stated that Baja California is already “flattening the curve” of new coronavirus cases, as it has consistently had fewer infection cases in the last week.

Although the state, as a whole, has seen a decrease in cases, the city of Ensenada has been increasing the number of infections. In response to this, Perez Rico called upon the people of Ensenada to respect social distancing and to try to stay home as much as possible.

“We want to be one of the first states to get to the new normality, and our focus is not only to have a green light to restart everything, but to reactivate our economy in an orderly manner. If we start reopening prematurely we will only cause economic and health problems in the long run”, said Perez Rico.

Musicians get some relief. Baja’s State Government announced that about 400 musicians from Mexicali have received alimentary support from the State, as they are one of the many professions that hasn’t been able to do almost anything to support their families.

Jesus Alejandro Ruiz Uribe, delegate for the State Government, announced that they will continue to support up to 6,000 musicians, waiters and taxi drivers at this stage.

“Musicians give us joy and they cheer up the population; we shouldn’t leave them alone in these tough times,” said Ruiz Uribe.

Ex-Mayor charged for embezzlement. Gilberto Hirata Chico, former mayor of Ensenada, and a very controversial one, has been charged along with his treasurer Samuel Aguilar Jaime for allegedly misappropriating federal funds amounting to $165,000 USD.

This is the first time a Mayor of Ensenada has been officially charged for crimes committed during his tenure.

This is the first allegation of a couple that were made that was accepted to be tried in court.

Justice is coming slowly to citizens of Ensenada in this case, as the first accusation was presented in May of 2017, and although it has already been accepted into court it has yet to be tried.

La Mision museum catches fire. A classroom in La Mision’s elementary school that was being used as a local museum, caught fire last week and was reduced to ashes.

The community museum was founded in 1938 by the then president Lazaro Cardenas.

“Unfortunately, it looks like we lost all of that heritage that encourages and fosters future generations to recognize their ancestry, culture and effort from this town”, said Isidro Escobar, a resident of La Mision.

Arturo Rivera, local representative for the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History), stated that residents have already displayed an avid interest in rebuilding the museum.

Baja 1000 confirmed. Ensenada Mayor and Score International authorities signed an agreement to celebrate the Baja 1000 Off- Road race from November 17th to the 22nd, beginning and ending in the city of Ensenada under strict sanitary protocols.

Although the Baja 500 is moving to San Felipe this year, local business groups and authorities worked to make sure that the Baja 1000 stays in the city.

Score announced that the race this year will not be having meet and greet events, press conferences, opening ceremonies, and that the mechanical revisions won’t be open to the public.

State Congress wants to reduce local wine taxes. A new proposal has been submitted to state congress that would allow local wines to pay only half of the IEPS taxes which today amounts to 26.5% of the sales price.

Congress also wants to keep the remaining half of the tax, to be used specifically to support the wine industry in different projects, instead of having to send it to the federation.

This would make local wines more competitive, as one of the main concerns of local producers is that their prices are not competitive compared to other foreign wines because of this tax.

Playas Toll Booth Free for Residents. Although the complete removal of the toll booth was not achieved, the state government along with a local residents group were able to negotiate free transit with electronic cards for residents of Playas de Tijuana.

A total of 18 neighborhoods, where 10,000 families live, will be benefited with these actions as they won’t have to pay any more to exit or enter their homes.

The fight for the removal of the Playas toll booth has been ongoing for decades by residents, and was one of the commitments of governor Bonilla’s campaign.

Que Pasa In Baja?

Did school start yet? Last week was supposed to be the start of the new year, but that wasn’t the case for more than 700,000 students from Kindergarten to high school that were left without classes since teachers from public schools are still on strike. Although the government has been paying most of the teachers that have a permanent position, they have been falling short on payments to retired and interim teachers.

The strike started while students were on their summer break, and it still hasn’t been resolved. The teachers union says the total amount owed to them totals $5.5 million USD.

Governor Kiko Vega said previously that the state government didn’t have any more money for them at that time since the federal government hadn’t fulfilled their promise to send the usual funds to our state. Federal authorities have vowed to send the money ASAP so students can resume classes starting in September.

Another excuse to drink! Like we needed more here in Baja. Recently, the state tourism office and Grupo Modelo (makers of Corona Beer here in Mexico), announced the “Beer Route” project. It consists of a website and an app for your phone that will enable you to see a map with the location of most of the craft beer breweries here in Baja.

A couple of years ago, the same office launched the “Ruta del Vino” project, which is basically the same but for wine, and it worked great for them. Now that craft beer is so popular here, they have decided to expand the idea for beer.

The app will launch at the end of September and will be available in both Spanish and English languages.

Possible new free zone. Since the lower taxes for the border have worked out, bringing an increased economic activity, Ruben Roa, incoming head of the economy office for our state, has stated that there is a plan to create a free trade zone with the US and Baja, where most merchandisers would not have to pay any import fees.

He already stated that Ensenada would be included if they go forward with this idea, although for other border states it would only cover about 20 miles from the border.

Ensenada will offer free WiFi for tourists and just about anyone else who is in the area. It is a new plan that the hotel association in Ensenada, along with the economic development council, have launched. The projects will offer free wireless internet in tourist areas of Ensenada, and although the project will be financed by the economic council, its maintenance will be self-sustainable with the sale of an ad space that will appear upon connecting to the network.

On its first stage, the areas covered will be from the start of Costero Boulevard (entrance to the city), to the Riviera Cultural Center and First Street from Ruiz to Castillo.

Bonilla vows to have the best police force in Mexico. Our incoming governor, Jaime Bonilla, has stated that Baja California will have the best police force in all of Mexico and that the head of it will be someone very well trained and without any ties to organized crimes.

“Our state will be a reference point for other states and for our president Lopez Obrador; my administration will be the first one elected during his governance, and for that reason he has stated that he is fully committed to Baja California. I won’t let you down,”  said Bonilla during a press conference. ,

One of his first strategies will be to correctly assign the police elements to each city: Tijuana needs about 800 more, Ensenada about 200 and Mexicali just 25. Meanwhile, Tecate has 40 more police officers than it should have and Rosarito is already at the recommended number. The number of officers needed per city is based on a norm established by the United Nations.

Que Pasa In Baja?

New cultural Plaza in Ensenada. Grupo Pando, the parent company of Santo Tomas winery, just got the approval from the city to close Miramar street to vehicular access, between 6th and 7th streets, in order to develop a plaza that will house an open-air forum, areas for art exhibits, gardens, and seating spaces.

The city agreed to let them use the street because the city lacks cultural spaces and also lacks money to develop them. This fixes both problems, since the city is not paying anything to establish this new plaza.

Grupo Pando already owns the lots and buildings on both sides of the street, and they were just waiting for approval from the city to use the street, as well as to develop the uninterrupted 27,000 sq/ft space.

Toll booths back to normal. You may think it is bad news that you have to pay the toll to use the scenic road again, but it’s actually excellent news. About two weeks ago, the federal police finally decided it was time to put their feet down and stop the illegal “toma casetas” (the people that were taking over the toll booths), and bring the law back into our state.

It was about time: We were hearing a lot of comments from tourists that were actually afraid of what was going on in the toll booths. We heard comments along the lines of “it looks like there is no law here,” or “people just don’t respect the police, they are 10 feet from them and they won’t do anything.”

Most locals were not unhappy with the situation, as they were saving money when using the road, but in the long run, it was affecting every one of us who lives here.

Jaime Bonilla, governor-elect, has already stated that he won’t allow for this kind of unlawful acts, and that our state will not be held hostage by groups that have ulterior motives.

It wasn’t me. That’s what our current governor is saying regarding the current financial situation that the state is in. Governor Kiko Vega recently stated that the federation owes our state about $500 million USD; this is money that used to come in from the federal government every month, but hasn’t been received here for the last 6 months.

The lack of funds has caused the state to get behind on payments for education, which amounts to 57% of the total budget for our state. Teachers are already on strike waiting for their payments.

State finances are managed differently in Mexico, as most of the revenue from taxes goes directly to the federal government and then the federation sends back what they see fit. This system has caused a lot of problems, since it undermines the autonomy of the state, especially when the government of a state is from a different party as the one from the federal government.

Cruises on the rise. And that’s not only for Baja, but country-wide there has been an increase of cruise visits in all of Mexico’s ports. An estimated 8 million people are expected to visit this country through a cruise ship, and while the Mexican Caribbean has seen an 8 percent increase, it has been our Pacific that has had the most significant rise in cruise visits with a whopping 15%.

Arturo Musi, president of the Mexican association of businesses, focused on cruise ship tourism (yes, that is a real thing), said that the Pacific will be able to receive the scheduled cruises until 2020. However, he also said that investments in infrastructure will be needed in order to catch up with the demand for 2021.

Cruise ship passengers leave about 50 million dollars every year in our country, from goods or services that they buy while they visit our country. It may not seem like much, but considering that all cruises include food and beverages, and that not even half of the passengers get off the ship, it’s not really that bad.

Ensenada gets blacklisted. The center for the study of public finances, based in the federal congress, issued a report that qualified a total of 655 municipalities in the country based on their debt and payment capacity. Of those, 64 were blacklisted as having high deficits and a low payment capacity compared to their debt. Ensenada headed the list, meaning it’s the municipality from the list that is in the worst shape financially.

Of course, there are worst municipalities in Mexico, but a lot were not even analyzed because the researchers couldn’t even gather data on those places.

Baja still popular for tourism. Our state head of tourism, Oscar Escobedo, has stated that last year we received 27 million tourists, and that Baja has been one of the states that has seen the most growth in the tourism sector, thanks to a policy of “selling experiences” and not places.

He said that the new trend is not to promote visits for a specific place, but promoting how being in that place would make you feel or what you can do while there; this has brought great results for Baja.

The tourism growth has been seen in the hotel industry as well, as there have been 38 new hotels developed in Baja during the last 6 years.

The Cross Border Express bridge has also boosted arrivals in the Tijuana airport, going from 3.9 million entries per year before the CBX to over 8 million after it.

Another crucial area that keeps growing is medical tourism, which, Escobedo stated, is generating over $500 million USD annually.

And not only in tourism. The state office for economic development stated recently that our state was first in economic growth in the last quarter from the states in the northern border, and the third place in all of Mexico.

Baja’s growth in the last quarter was 2.1% and the national average was just 0.2%, so we were significantly higher than other states. We have been steadily growing for 36 of the last 37 quarters, with an average growth of 3.7% annually. That’s not bad at
all!

Que Pasa In Baja?

How long will the new state government last? Boy, has this been a toughie for our state. The standard governor term for each of the states in Mexico is 6 years and has not been changed for many years. This year, though, it was decided (before the elections), that the new government would only last 2 years in order to merge our next governor’s election with the federal midterms. The reason behind this change was supposed to be an economic one, as our state would be able to have fewer elections. This was seen as a good move, since our state had a whopping 5 different elections in the last 6 years, costing us millions of pesos.

The move was approved by Congress a couple years ago, but just a week ago (and after Jaime Bonilla from Morena was elected governor), the congress reversed that change and said that the government was going to last 5 years instead of 2, merging it with another election.

This was seen as preposterous by the federal congress, which said that the people had voted for a 2-year governor, which was now being converted into a 5-year term, and they deemed it anti-democratic. Local congress representatives were accused of receiving a million dollars each from Bonilla’s team in exchange for their vote in favor of extending his term, which is an entirely plausible assumption, considering representatives from all different political parties voted in favor of the move.

After much fighting between the state and federal congress, the actual governor has stepped in and said he won’t support the change, making it difficult but not impossible for the 5-year term to kick in.

Federal congress has gone so far as to saying that our state congress should be eliminated because of their anti-democratic spirit. All of the congress representatives that voted in favor are being threatened to be fired from their political parties.

We have yet to see how this turns out, as the state congressional term ends this month and a new one comes in, which could reverse the measure.

I’m doing my part, what about you? Hans Backoff, head of Monte Xanic winery and the current chief of the local wineries’ association Provino, stated that wine consumption in Baja has increased to 9 liters per capita, per year, although our national average is just 1 liter.

For comparison, the United States drinks 9 liters, Chile and Argentina drink 15 and 20 liters respectively.

Tijuana taxi companies pissed off. Taxis from Tijuana have threatened the city of Rosarito saying that they will stop taking tourists there, in retaliation of $400 USD fines imposed about 3 months ago for working there without the proper permits.

The fines are a result of Rosarito taxi companies pressuring the city to crack down on foreign transportation services, claiming that it’s unfair competition for them. For their part, Tijuana taxi companies say that they are not breaking any laws, because they don’t pick up tourists in Rosarito, they just take them there; also, other cities like Ensenada and Mexicali do not have any problems with this, because they deliver the tourists who will spend their valuable money in the destination they’re taken to.

Governor-elect promises cleaner beaches. Jaime Bonilla, our newly elected governor, has just signed an agreement with San Diego County that will allow them to work together in projects to clean local beaches.

San Diego’s port commissioner said that they can support the future government with 15 million dollars in 15 programs developed by them that will help put an end to beach contamination that originates in Mexico but affects San Diego county directly.

Beaches in Ensenada ready for tourism. The clean beaches committee in Ensenada stated that all the beaches in the city are suitable for swimming this year.

Officials from the local environmental agency said that contamination in local beaches are well below the norm, saying that samples were taken from La Mision, Playa Hermosa, Pacifica, Monalisa and La Joya, and all passed the test without any issues.

The city is encouraging the general public to avoid smoking on the beach, as in the 2018 international beach cleaning effort, the most common trash found in the sand was cigarette butts.

No more “chocolate cars.” Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it, but as of press time, the governor-elect Jaime Bonilla has stated several times now that he will fix the problem with illegal cars circulating here in Baja.

Nowadays is hard to see a legal car at any stop sign, especially in Ensenada, where some officials are saying that up to 90% of vehicles in the city are illegal (meaning they haven’t been imported or have current plates).

The problem has been left to grow worse for many years, as it will be a political blow to whoever decides to crack down on these cars. The only solution, which has been tried once before, seems to be making a special program to regularize illegal cars cheaply and after that start cracking down on the newly illegal vehicles. ,

Que Pasa In Baja?

Elections are here. Campaigns for governor, mayor, and state congressional seats have just started; that’s why you are seeing an excess of friendly looking faces on billboards and posters around town.

Elections are being held on Sunday, June 2nd, so on that day, you might see some lines of people where you usually don’t.

The elected governor for Baja will only last two years on his term; this is four fewer years than the usual 6-year term because we are trying to match the federal mid-term elections for the upcoming years.

This is causing a lot of unrest between supporters of Jaime Bonilla, the runner-up for governor from the Morena party (same party as our president, AMLO), who claims that his rights are being undermined with a shorter term in office. Bonilla is practically our next governor, with more than 60% of the preference in polls, while none of the others even get to 20%.

The PAN party has ruled Baja for more than 30 years, but people are not very happy with it, especially with the current governor Kiko Vega, who has been accused of corruption and plain old incompetence.

All 5 municipalities in Northern Baja will choose a new mayor, and although last year’s changes in the constitution allowed for city officials to be reelected, only Tijuana’s mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum decided to compete for a second term in office.

Another whale dies. This past week the corpse of a grey whale appeared in Playa Hermosa, Ensenada. Since it was a Sunday and the weather was warm, lots of people who were there to enjoy the beach where amazed by the colossal animal lying on the beach. Some even decided it was a good idea to ride the dead animal for pictures, which pissed off some of the other beachgoers.

The federal zone authority (ZOFEMAT) was quick to bury the corpse; they said that they had to dig a hole 30 feet long and 12 feet deep so the animal could fit. Hopefully, no one had the great idea to dynamite it!

Wine pouring money. Officials from the state agriculture department stated that grape and wine production in Baja created about $18 million USD of revenue in our state.

Wine production was estimated in 8.1 million liters during 2018, and the most popular varietals being used were Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Tempranillo, and Merlot. The main buyers of our wine are Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and the state of California in the US.

Although these are good numbers, there is still a long way to go: in comparison, last year California produced more than 64 million liters of wine. That’s almost 8 times our production!

Fake news scheme. A group of extortionists based in Tijuana was captured recently and then set free, after extorting money from several people with the threat of publishing fake news about them or their companies in several news websites that they managed.

A judge set them free, saying that extortion was not a serious crime and did not require preventive prison, thus allowing them to continue their process out of jail. The  day after they were set free, the leader of the group skipped bail and is now a fugitive.

He will probably be back in jail soon, since the FBI is now involved in the investigation because the group also extorted a couple of businesspeople from San Diego.

Bike Race Almost Here. It’s that time of the year again! The Rosarito-Ensenada bike race is being held on Saturday, May 4th. Mark it on your calendar, and remember not to take the roads that the riders will use during the event, since you could be stuck there for a long time.

The event is expected to bring about 7,000 competitors this year and 20,000 visitors, with a projected economic benefit for our area of $4 million USD.

Interesting proposal. One of the candidates for governor, Ignacio Anaya from the Party for Baja California (or PBC), has stated that if he is elected governor, he will start by pardoning 20 women that are in jail because they had an abortion in the past.

In Mexico and specifically in Baja, having an abortion is still a crime, although several activist groups have been fighting the matter. It is thought that it will be decriminalized soon, since the ruling party (Morena) is pro-abortion.

Don’t Miss The Seashells and New Wine Festival

Like every year, the Seashells and New Wine Festival opens the path of the regional wine festivities and although it’s not an official “vendimia” event because it’s a couple months before, its organized by Provino (the same guys that bring you the official wine parties) and its definitely a “mustn’t miss” for the season.

This year, the celebration will last for a whole week (packed with workshops, guided tours, lunch and dinner events in Ensenada and the Guadalupe Valley), starting on Monday, April 29 and ending with the main festival on May 5th on the grounds of Marina Coral Hotel.

The seashells and new wine festival represents an homage to local ingredients, with different activities that take the public to know, first-hand, how local sea products are handled, transformed and paired with local wines, reflecting all the goodness that this vast region brings to our tables.

Tickets cost 900 pesos (about 50 dollars), and you can get them online clicking here https://festival-de-las-conchas-y-el-vino-nuevo.boletia.com/. A wine glass that you’ll use for tasting more than 120 different bottles of local wines is included. Food samples from participating restaurants are also available and don’t have any extra cost.

If you don’t want to get your tickets online, you can also buy them at:

  • Hotel Coral & Marina
  • Viñas de Liceaga
  • Bodegas de Santo Tomás
  • Finca La Carrodilla
  • Lomita
  • Maglen Resort
  • Madera 5
  • Cuatro Cuatros
  • Hacienda Guadalupe
  • Cava Maciel
  • Decantos
  • El Cielo
  • Hotel Misión Santa Isabel
  • Muelle 3
  • Corona Hotel & Spa
  • Corona Del Valle
  • Viajes Kinessia
  • Acuacultura Integral de Baja California
  • Tienda de vinos La Contra

You can find the full program for all the events, online at: https://provinobc.mx/eventos/.

Samples are limited, so make sure to get there early to try everything! See you there.

 

Que Pasa In Baja?

Germans interested in our wine. A group of Bavarian businessmen visited the wine valley last week in order to analyze the production potential of the area and the possibilities of collaborating with local wineries on different projects.

Specifically, local wineries were invited by the German company Nuremberg Messe to participate in upcoming beverage fairs from the Bavarian region that will include a section of international wines this year.

The executives visited several local wineries, including Roganto and Decantos, and also had a chance to enjoy the wine museum.

Baja safe for tourists. But very dangerous for criminals, at least that’s what our state tourism honcho, Oscar Escobedo, is preaching around Baja. He also stated that Baja has a lower crime rate among tourists than the state of California in the US. When asked about the spiking murder rates, he was quick to give the now official response “the majority of those cases are from folks in illicit activities.”

Off-road museum still no go. The controversial off-road museum in Ensenada still hasn’t been able to break ground, even though the state government says that the project is funded and the construction project done.

The state is saying that the project needs to be executed and managed by the local business groups, focusing on making the museum self-sustainable from ticket sales or trinkets sold at its gift shop.

The museum has been controversial because a big part of the community in Ensenada is against the project. The biggest issue is that the building would be just next to CEARTE, the local art museum, in a piece of land that was initially destined to build classrooms for art students.

Meter wars go on. Ensenada doesn’t make up its mind regarding the placement of parking meters around downtown; first the council approved the proposal to put up the meters, and now, after a contract has already been signed with a private company, the city is saying it wants to back out of the deal because of the enormous backlash they got from the citizens of Ensenada.

At this point, it’s cheaper to just install the parking meters and let the contract run its 18-year course than to pay the millions of pesos the company will demand if the council prohibits its operation; but of course, there is a political cost of approving such an unpopular move that no one wants to pay.

Baja Speaks English. That is the name of an initiative presented by congressman Carlos Torres, with the support of educative authorities and business groups, for concrete actions to take Baja all the way to the number one in the list of states with higher percentages of bilingual folks.

“Today, there is a language that can open doors to our kids and young boys and girls. A tool that allows us to even the opportunities between the privileged and the ones that have had less opportunities”, said Torres.

Baja California is the 57th region in the world with the most people that are able to speak a foreign language; Mexico as a country is 14th on the list.

Torres stated that a person who is fluent in English has the opportunity to earn 30% more than his non-bilingual counterparts.

The program will consist of a special set of benefits for companies that offer English class scholarships for its workers, and also by providing these benefits to English-language schools.

Hell breaks loose in San Felipe. After the Navy “accidentally” shot a Totoaba poacher in San Felipe, several fishermen protested violently at the Naval base and the protection agency office by burning cars, pangas, and buildings. Two more people were shot when protestors started throwing Molotov cocktails at the naval base buildings.

Fishing for Totoaba has been illegal in San Felipe for several years now because of its protected species status, and also because the area is declared as a protected space in an effort to save the Vaquita porpoise.

Better think twice about that beach bonfire. Rosarito officials from ZOFEMAT (the ones in charge of the federal zone at the beach), stated that they will be coordinating with the local police to crack down on beach fires; they are saying the activity is now prohibited because of the high level of contamination that the fires leave on the beach.

They also said that 110 new trash cans are being installed in local beaches so tourists can easily take their trash to the can and not leave it in the sand.

We’re going to be rich! A new initiative by state congressman Alejandro Arregui will allow citizens to collect damages when something bad happens because of the condition of the road.

If the law is passed, you will be able to sue the local government if you bust a tire, or your suspension when you fall in one of those enormous potholes that abound around here.

If that doesn’t seem far fetched, Arregui also proposed that the government has to take into consideration the amount of money “not earned” because of the time lost due to the accident, and says that it all has to be resolved in a maximum of 30 days by city or state officials.

If this initiative passes, our cities will go broke in 5 minutes, probably 2 for Ensenada!

Local Winery Honors Prominent Women

El Cielo Winery, located in the Guadalupe Valley, celebrated last month the contributions of women to the wine and food production by offering them awards during a gala dinner in their restaurant.

Marcos Flores, president of the Mexican Association of Sommeliers and Gustavo Ortega, founder, and director of El Cielo Wines presented the awards to 7 women, that with their professionalism, dedication and commitment to their crafts are revolutionizing the world of wine and gastronomy.

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“It’s an honor for me to be able to host these successful women in the world of food and wine to celebrate them. I’ve always admired women for their fortitude and dedication bringing a different vision to great projects as are the ones in wine production.” Stated Ortega during his welcoming speech.

El Cielo is planning to award different women every year, and on this first year the ones honored were:

  1. Lourdes Martinez. An experienced oenologist, born in Ensenada but with several years of experience studying and working in France, she co-founded “Bodega Henri Lurton”, named after the owner of Château Brane-Cantenac in France, Henri Lurton, with whom she decided to interpret the graciousness of Baja’s nature and terroir by producing excellent wines.
  2. Tru Miller. Owner of Adobe Guadalupe winery and pioneer of wine tourism in the valley. Dutch by birth, Mexican by heart. She founded the winery with her late husband Donald A. Miller in the nineties, planning on dedicating herself to breeding horses while her husband focused on the vineyard part of their property. After he passed, she successfully took over the wine part of the business too, improving on her husband’s legacy.
  3. Laura Zamora. An oenologist born in Ensenada, with more than 30 years of experience in high-quality winemaking, she was the first woman responsible of the winery Bodegas de Santo Tomas. Her success is based on the depth of her knowledge of the vineyards, the elaboration process and the different phases of production. She now runs her own winery aptly named “Casa Zamora”.
  4. Gina Estrada. Outstanding Sommelier, ambassador of El Cielo wines, Ultra-premium Emma Gin and spokesperson for Louis XII cognac, she is vice-president of the Mexican Association of Sommeliers and general manager of @GinaSommelier, a national leader in consulting for the wine and distilled beverages industry. She is certified by Court Masters Sommeliers and has been a judge in numerous beverage ranking contests.
  5. Myrna de Liceaga. Owner of Viña de Liceaga, a project that started with her late husband Eduardo Liceaga in San Antonio de las Minas back in 1982, she has successfully grown the legacy of her husband, receiving numerous award along the way. Her “wine forest” is one of the most sought-of venues for all kinds of events in the valley.
  6. Chef Sabina Bandera. Creator of “La Guerrerense”, the most famous seafood street cart in Baja and the world, having earned prizes in street food competitions worldwide. Originally from the state of Guerrero, she arrived at Ensenada at a very young age. Better known as “La guerita” or the “little blonde” Sabina is the star of her business. She offers 14 different kinds of ceviches and cocktails. Her street cart has grown into three restaurants in Ensenada, Mexico City, and Monterrey.
  7. Chef Yerika Muñoz. Renowned Chef with years of experience on international cuisine, with lots of influence from Peruvian cuisine, she is a goal-oriented woman with a passion for food that solidifies and structure her life. Yerika works only in what she believes in, and every day continues to conquer more palates.

All the food for the night was prepared by Chefs Sabina Bandera and Yerika Muñoz, paired by Gina Estrada with wines selected from Adobe Guadalupe, Casa Zamora, Henri Lurton and El Cielo.

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