From now on, when anyone asks me for recommendations of things to do near San Miguel de Allende, my answer will be “Go wine tasting”. If you only have time for one winery, go to Vinícola Tres Raíces, located just 14 miles (22 km) outside of San Miguel de Allende on the road to Dolores Hidalgo. Allow plenty of time to make a day of it. Take in the beautiful scenery, great wine and food, and an unexpected side of Mexican culture. I can’t think of much more I would want out of a day trip. Wait a minute…a perfect day also needs friends. Share the day with good friends like we did and you might not want to leave.
Experiencing Mexican culture at a winery may sound surprising, but in this part of Mexico wine is very much a part of the culture. Tres Raíces is located in the Bajio region of central Mexico, which incorporates the states of Guanajuato and Querétaro, along with parts of Aguascalientes and Jalisco. The Bajio region is one of the first places where wine grapes were grown in Mexico, planted four hundred years ago by Spanish missionaries. The region has been undergoing a resurgence in wine growing in the last fifteen years.
Tres Raíces is a 100% Mexican company. The name Tres Raíces means “three roots” and is named for the three owners (whose identities remain a mystery to me). The winery was founded in 2016 and only recently opened to the public in October 2018. They currently have 26 hectares planted with grapes that are just beginning to mature enough for wine production. This year (2019) was their first harvest of their own grapes. For the last few years, they have been buying grapes from other growers in Mexico, including grapes from Chihuahua, the original home state of their winemaker, Alejandra Cordero.
Our tour guide Cristopher, who spoke perfect English, said that it is their goal to be the best winery in the Mexican Bajio region. Considering their investment in their state of the art winemaking facilities and plans to expand their vineyard plantings, I have a lot of confidence in them.
Cristopher met us in the gorgeous grand entrance hall and led us through the building, which is filled with stunning architectural elements inside and out.
Before heading out to the vineyard, he offered us each an umbrella for protection from the bright midday sun. From a stone viewing platform at the edge of the vineyard, we looked out over vines of Cabernet franc, Tempranillo, Syrah, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc.
The cute block buildings in the distance are part of the boutique hotel that puts you in the middle of the vineyard in your own private casita. The hotel is still under construction but, when ready, it will include a pool, jacuzzi, and a spa offering wine therapy…I’m intrigued.
Back inside, the fermentation room holds state of the art equipment and then it was down to see the largest barrel in the region, where wines are aged in French and American oak.
Following the tour, Tres Raíces offers three options for wine tasting: three wines (one white, one rose, one red), five wines with cheese and charcuterie, or a 5-course menu with wine pairing.
We opted for the tasting of five wines and glasses were lined up on the bar waiting for us. Places were set for each of us with our own plate of cheeses and meats.
Cristopher guided us through the wines, starting with a nice dry Syrah Rosé that was full of red fruits like cranberry. Next was the only white, a Sauvignon blanc aged for 9 months in French oak.
The red wines were all excellent. The 2017 Malbec, aged 6 months in French oak and then 6 months in American oak, had deep flavors of black currant and spices – think cloves and black pepper. The beautiful nose of the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon was full of blackberries. The standout wine for us was the 2017 Merlot, which had notes of smoke and pipe tobacco, characteristic of a good Merlot. Anybody out there still have a bottle of the 2016 vintage Merlot? We hear it was even better.
We had lunch reservations at the winery’s restaurant, Restaurante Terruño, as we had heard that the food was amazing. We only had to walk a few steps to a table for four on the terrace with the vineyards and distant mountains forming a dramatic backdrop.
The menu was full of red-wine friendly dishes, perfect to complement the bottles of Tres Raíces Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that we already knew we had to have. Everything went in the center of the table for sharing.
We started with some Rib Eye Empanadas generously filled with chopped steak and Monterrey cheese; and raviolis stuffed with suckling pig that was served with a creamy spinach sauce and bits of bacon.
This was just enough to make us really hungry and ready for some serious meat. Secreto Ibérico is a thin cut of meat from between the shoulder blade and loin of Spanish Iberian pigs. This is a very special cut in Spain, marbled with fat and very tender. This Mexican version was fabulous, served with spicy grilled peppers and potatoes.
We finished up with a big Chamorro Ahumado, a glorious smoked pork shank drenched in a red wine sauce with mushrooms.
And for dessert? Well, we were not ready to call it a day with the finality of an official dessert. Instead, we decided we needed one more taste of that Merlot, so it was back to the bar to share a bottle. I’m embarrassed to say that in all the time we sat at that tasting bar I didn’t take a single photo of the space. I was too absorbed in wine and conversation, which is a good thing.
As I said earlier, you might not want to leave.
When exactly will those hotel casitas be ready?
Vinícola Tres Raíces
San Miguel de Allende road to Dolores KM 73,
Tequisquiapan, Dolores Hidalgo Guanajuato.
Tel. 415 113 52 50