When craving a glass of red or white, a San Diegan’s first thought might be to travel up north to Temecula, Napa or Sonoma vineyards. Yet approximately 90 miles from downtown lies Valle de Guadalupe, a rapidly growing wine country based in Baja California, Mexico.
And now, Tim Barnes is bringing these Baja wines across the border and directly to Southern California doorsteps through his new subscription service.
Barnes and his wife Katie Blando, who have no classical wine training or experience, stumbled upon Valle de Guadalupe while exploring Northern Baja California back in 2015. Those visits eventually inspired Boca Roja, their La Jolla-based tourism business that offers wine tasting tours and adventures in Valle de Guadalupe.
“As a native San Diegan, I was amazed that such a beautiful, prolific wine region existed in our own backyard and most people have never heard of it,” Barnes said. “In fact, for most San Diego residents, Guadalupe Valley is a shorter drive than the trip to Temecula so it is really the true ‘local wine region’ for San Diego!”
Boca Roja – which means “red mouth” in Spanish — was established to share knowledge of the region and its wines with San Diegans. The company now employees six guides and offers a variety of tour options, including bachelorette and birthday packages.
After hearing customers’ repeated requests for easy access to these regional wines, Barnes decided to bring the selection directly to their doors through a wine subscription and delivery service: Enjoy Valle Wine Club. It aims to allow wine lovers to “enjoy the Valle” and experience of the magic of the Mexican wine country from their own home.
Though there are many other national and regional wine clubs, including local services from Village Vino Wine Club in Kensington and The WineSellar and Brasserie in Sorrento Valley, Enjoy Valle Wine Club’s uniqueness lies within its inventory.
All wines will be from the Valle de Guadalupe region, with more than 90% unavailable to buy in the United States. Many are hard-to-find, exclusive batches with less than 2,500 cases of annual production available.
Barnes said that just like the Boca Roja tours, there are no contracts with specific wineries. This allows him and his team the flexibility to handpick the wines for each box based on quality, taste and service, as well as choose wineries that have the experience, resources and ability to export their product and build their brand in the U.S.
In addition to the quarterly deliveries, wine club members will enjoy monthly, community-centric events to give back and connect with others over a drink or two. At the end of May, Barnes and his team will host a beach clean-up, BBQ and wine tasting at Moonlight Beach.
They also plan to invite Valle de Guadalupe winemakers and chefs to San Diego for culinary events so club members can learn more about the Baja California wine country directly from the source.
“My favorite part about Valle de Guadalupe is the palpable energy that the community emits in the face of exciting growth and change … You would be hard pressed to find another destination that has such rich history and culture but such an undetermined future with limitless possibility,” Barnes said. “This was a big reason why we launched our online wine club to help the highest-quality, small-producers introduce their products to the U.S. market through our tour guests.”
There are two tiers of subscription options: Baja Wine Explorer ($95 per quarter) and Founding Members Club ($150 per quarter). Shipping is $35 and $25, respectively. Both choices receive three bottles delivered quarterly, tour credit toward your birthday month, and discounts on tastings, case orders and local tasting tickets. Learn more at enjoyvalle.com/wineclub.