As summer comes around each year, the entire Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe region is abuzz with wine harvest season and the slew of parties and events that accompany the harvest—The Fiestas de la Vendimia.
Often referred to as just Vendimia, the wine harvest festival now consists of three weeks of winemaker dinners, elite parties, and large wine and food events. While most of the Vendimia events are exclusive and expensive parties held at individual wineries and restaurants, there are a few events throughout the festival that are hosted by Provino, the regional wine association. At these parties, you’ll generally find over 60+ of the region’s wineries participating, regional food being enjoyed, and a gigantic party ensuing.
One of these large Provino events—and the one that officially kicks off the Fiestas de la Vendimia each year—is the Muestra del Vino. Literally translating to “sample of the wine” in English, the name is apropos as there are more than 120 different varietals of wine to try, accompanied by a smorgasbord of food from over 40 local chefs and restaurants. Held in Ensenada at the historic Riviera del Pacifico building, it’s a grand event that sets the party scene for the three weeks of Vendimia festivities that follow.
Taking place in the evening at the grand Riviera with the cool breezes of the Pacific Ocean coming from across the street, Muestra has a very different feel from the Concurso de Paellas Provino event which is held at the culmination of Vendimia each year. Paellas brings you a typical Valle experience—spending a hot summer afternoon drinking wine and eating food prepared outdoors under the oak trees of Liceaga winery in Valle de Guadalupe. Muestra, in contrast, is a slightly more sophisticated event, with a (literally and figuratively) cooler city vibe.
Utilizing all of the indoor ballrooms, salons, event spaces, and outdoor lawns and patios at the Riviera, Muestra is a sprawling and seemingly never-ending party celebrating the wines of the region. Not into the jazz music being played in the lounge area? Try the formal ballroom with live big band music playing and couples showing off their moves on the dance floor. Or maybe the casual back patio and Bar Andaluz area is more your speed. The younger set will likely enjoy the front lawn area with the live DJ. There’s an area for every taste.
Everywhere you go there are tables with local chefs and restaurants handing out delicious food samples. Also spread throughout the event are the many wine tables pouring endless samples of the region’s wines. Unlike Concurso de Paellas where each table is designated for a specific winery and you’ll find winemakers and employees working at the table pouring the wine for you, Muestra is structured differently. Each wine table represents a varietal of wine (Nebbiolo for example) and a few different bottles of wine from various wineries representing that wine varietal. This frees up the winemakers and other wine industry insiders to join the revelry as partygoers, contributing to the exhilarating fun of the event. It’s an evening for the entire region and industry to celebrate the literal fruits of their labor.