By: Alisa Barba
SAN DIEGO — There was a time when San Diegans like myself would regularly go down for dinner in TJ, as Tijuana is known here, to take in a bullfight, search out carnitas, drive down the blue sparkling coast for golf or some luscious Mexican lobsters at La Fonda.
But that was a decade ago, before post-Sept. 11 border security created multi-hour border wait times for the return; before grisly cartel violence dominated the headlines, and certainly, for me, before kids and their activities sucked up all the spare time it took to travel south. Still, I’ve been dying to check out the emerging wine and food scene in Baja, and finally had a chance this past weekend.
The excuse: the Fiestas de la Vendimia, Baja California’s 22nd annual wine harvest festival. Conjured up by tourism officials and some of the some nearly 70 local wineries around Ensenada, the festival is a two-week-long celebration of wine and food, with events including concerts, wine tastings, and art exhibitions scattered among the seven beautiful wine-producing valleys between Ensenada and Tecate.
This year’s festival -– which runs from Aug. 3-19 -- officially began with the inauguration by Mexican President Felipe Calderon of the spectacular Museo del la Vid Y El Vino (Museum of Vine and Wine), located on the Ruta del Vino road that connects Ensenada with Tecate.