Angels of the Guadalupe
A retired American couple takes up winemaking south of the border.
Each year, millions of devout Catholics make the pilgrimage into Mexico City to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church and shrine dedicated to the famous Marian apparition. For Don and Tru Miller, their migration south of the border was also a bit of a spiritual journey. In 1992, the couple, a retired banker (Don) and linguist (Tru) lost their son Arlo, a lover of Mexican culture and wine, in a car crash. In an effort to be closer to the land their son so admired and taking two run-ins Tru had with a Mexican chair and sarape at Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral as a sign (read the full backstory on the Web site), the pair moved from their native Orange County, California. Their destination was Mexico's Guadalupe Valley, an emerging wine region located about 15 miles northeast of Ensenada in Baja California. In the land of Tequila, this rugged stretch of land, responsible for about 90% of Mexico's wine production, is slowly gaining recognition, occasionally receiving comparisons to Napa Valley circa 1960s. There, the Millers hired an architect and in 1998 opened Adobe Guadalupe, a six-bedroom hacienda inn and winery—the only American-owned winery in Mexico.
Built in the Persian style with cupolas, fountains and domed windows, Adobe Guadalupe is, today, one of few accommodations located directly in the valley. The property has, in addition to the inn, a pool, a Jacuzzi, a riding stable offering both English and Western vineyard tours, meditation gardens and, located in one of the vineyards, a shrine dedicated to the eponymous religious icon. There are also 60 acres of vineyards and Don and Tru, longtime wine lovers, have embraced the viticultural scene, hiring the local Bordeaux-trained winemaker Hugo d'Acosta. D'Acosta, instrumental in putting Guadalupe Valley on the map, planted a wide range of varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Grenache,Tempranillo, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Cabernet Franc and Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Moscatel. Since the first harvest in 2000, the red blends have garnered a number of fans, including celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who serves the wines at his Chicago restaurant, Frontera Grill. Reflecting the property's spiritual backstory all (as well as the inn's six bedrooms) are named after archangels. For more information on Adobe Guadalupe, go to http://www.adobeguadalupe.com/.