Discovering the wines of Guanajuato, Mexico was one of our most pleasant surprises in San Miguel de Allende, and any discussion of Guanajuato wines has to include Bodegas Vega Manchón. Also known as Cuna de Tierra, Bodegas Vega Manchón is the oldest vineyard in Guanajuato. They led the resurgence of wine making in the area, producing their first wine in 2005 from French varietal vines planted on the ranch in the early 90’s by friends Don Juan Manchón and Don Ignacio Vega. Their first wine sold to the public was made in 2008 and the Cuna de Tierra label was launched in 2010.
Bodegas Vega Manchón is located in Dolores Hidalgo, about 40 km outside of San Miguel de Allende. We hired a driver to drop us off at the winery and return for a pick up several hours later. Reservations are required to visit the winery. (Information for winery visits can be found on the Cuna de Tierra website here.)
Despite having made our reservation in advance, when we arrived at the winery they were not expecting us. Security at the gate was strictly enforced and we began to think that we had made the drive for nothing. After showing a confirmation email on our cell phone and some helpful translation by our driver, we eventually convinced the guard to let us pass.
After a short drive through the vines of Malbec, Tempranillo, and Petit Syrah, we were greeted at the winery with much confusion about our presence. Still, they were pleasant and we were able to arrange a spontaneous tour and tasting, followed by lunch in the restaurant.
While we waited outside on the expansive terrace, we had a chance to appreciate the buildings around us. Cuna de Tierra seems to have received as much attention for its architecture as it has for its wine. Designed by Mexican architects Ignacio Urquiza Seoane and Bernardo Quinzaños Oria, the new winery was completed in 2013. The winery was designed to reflect the name Cuna de Tierra, which means “Cradle of Earth” and embodies the importance of the soil in the growth of the grape vines. The buildings echo the natural landscape, with walls constructed of soil, native wood, and lots of natural light.
Our tour guide, Jorge, offered us a glass of their newly released rosé wine made from Grenache and Aliatica grapes while we talked about the 26 year old vineyards. They currently have 45 hectares of vines growing grapes for wine production (another 90 hectares are growing table grapes).
They are constantly experimenting with new grape varietals and improving ways to grow them. The varietals are spread out over three different areas of the vineyard that display three independent microclimates based on sun, soil, etc. These different growing conditions impart unique qualities to the grapes which creates a more rounded, balanced wine when blended together.
They produce about 90,000 bottles annually. Their wine is exported internationally, with a large amount going to England, China, and Holland; and has won awards in wine competitions around the world.
It was harvest season when we visited in early September and crates of grapes filled the fermentation room, making their way from crate to press and into the tanks. In the barrel room, wines aged in French, Hungarian, and American Oak.
Our wine tasting took place in the dining area, which is surrounded by windows providing natural light and open to the large terrace and a small patio. We opted to have our tasting of four wines at the bar.
The first wine was a nice, dry white made from 100% Semillon grapes. We tried it paired with some of the cheeses on our tasting board. Our server, Ricardo went through a detailed description of the items on the board, including five cheeses made in Mexico, ham, salami, nuts, dried fruit, bread and their own olive oil that is made at Cuna de Tierra.
Ricardo’s pairing suggestion: “Try them all. The best pairing is what you like”. I find this to be a very wise philosophy.
Moving to the reds, the Torre de Tierra is 80% Tempranillo with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged just 6 months in oak. The Cuna de Tierra Vino Tinto is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc aged for 12 months in French and American oak that tasted of cherries and cranberries.
The tasting concluded with their dessert wine, Lloro de Tierra Mistela. This is a sweet blend of Muscat and some unfamiliar varietals, like one called Fantasy. The flavors are kept consistent by using a 5 year solera system that blends together vintages from multiple years. The Mistela had a nuttiness reminiscent of sherry or tawny port, yet still retained some fruitiness.
We managed to save some room and rebooted our palates to begin again with a three course lunch with wine pairings. Our first course was a colorful salad of burrata, sourced from local cheesemaker Remo’s, with a variety of tomatoes and watermelon radish. It was refreshing paired with a glass of the rosé wine.
For the main course, tentacles of octopus curled around creamy mashed potatoes and veggies. Bold salsa macha seasoning and mole negro were well matched to a glass of spicy Syrah. We thought the Torre de Tierra Syrah was the best of the wines that we tried that day.
Our lunch had a beautiful finish with a lovely guava mousse surrounded by arroz con leche for dessert and another glass of the sweet Mistela wine.
Considering that the winery was not expecting us, and I suspect that they improvised to accommodate us, we ended up with a pretty spectacular day.
In retrospect, the tasting with cheese and charcuterie board would have been plenty, had we known in advance that it would be so generous. The lunch with wine pairings also would have been sufficient on its own. We would not do both together again, but we would gladly go back for either experience.
So in the hope that my readers will learn from our experience and avoid these communication difficulties, be sure to make a reservation in advance of visiting Cuna de Tierra. Confirm that reservation before you go. And have proof of your reservation ready to show at the gate.
Also, be prepared to pay in cash. Cuna de Tierra normally accepts credit card payment and they confirmed this for us before the tour. By the end of our lunch, however, the credit card machine was down and we had to scramble through our pockets for pesos.
Cuna de Tierra
Bodegas Vega Manchón
Carretera Dolores Hidalgo – San Luis de la Paz Km.11.5
Rancho el Rosillo 37800, Dolores Hidalgo, GTO, México