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Column 082007 Dryden

Monday, August 20, 2007

Getting to Know Mexican Wine and Russian History

“Vino-Tourism” by Steve Dryden

Russian wine maker and grape grower David Bibayoff will present his wine and Russian Molokan history during a special evening of wine and gourmet delights on September 7th, at Chabert’s Restaurant in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico. Come and experience a rare opportunity to learn about the community of Russian Molokan immigrants who moved into Guadalupe Valley around 1905.

In addition to good wine and gourmet culinary delights we'll be featuring handcrafted woven wine cooler baskets from the Kumiai Indians during a fundraiser for the medical needs of the Kumiai of San Antonio Necua. This evening 85 lucky guests will experience some unique wine, meet an entertaining and charming Russian, and discover custom-made handcrafted items created by the native people of Baja California.  The event begins at 6:30 pm and will be hosted by David Bibayoff, Laura Torres and Steve Dryden.

David Bibayoff and his family are one of the few families left from the original 104 Molokan families that settled in Guadalupe Valley early in the 1900's. These Molokan Russians were a spiritual community of farmers who were known throughout Eastern Europe for their ability to grow crops and create "Gardens of Eden" in remote and desolate regions.

The political regime of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz granted permission for the Russian community to purchase and legally hold title to 5,266 hectares of ranchland, formerly known as Guadalupe Ranch or Rancho Ex-Mission de Guadalupe, in Baja California. These innovative and hard working people turned a remote and undeveloped area into an amazing farming and spiritual community.

One important crop cultivated by these dedicated farmers was table grapes, which they had experience growing in Europe. Soon vineyards were planted throughout the valley with good results, allowing them to establish the region as grape growing country. This important introduction of quality table grapes led the way for future development and experimentation for the valley's grape growing and wine producing industry.

Three museums in Valle de Guadalupe feature artifacts and historical information concerning the Russian Molokans. One museum is located on the Bibayoff family ranch, and the other two are located near Monte Xanic winery in the small village of Guadalupe and Francisco Zarco.

David Bibayoff and his family have a remote ranch in a quiet and peaceful country setting where you can relax, picnic, set up your tent or RV for a comfortable evening under the stars with one of the region's friendliest families.

This year's harvest season is upon us here in Guadalupe Valley, and the events for the Harvest Festival are attracting international guests from many countries. Record breaking attendance to these events is a reflection of first class hospitality, high quality wine, superb culinary delights, world-class entertainment and the dedication of winery staff and event organization personnel.

The wine industry in Mexico is emerging into an amazing community of international individuals who are dedicated to creating quality wine and having some serious fun! This region is blessed with a diverse culture, with the unique individuals building an incredible wine culture centered on wine, food, organic produce, olive oil, artisan bakeries and gourmet cheese, along with romantic and charming lodging accommodations, camping and art galleries.

Of all the wine regions in the world, Mexico certainly has a unique "old world" charm blended with international inspiration and dedication that has produced a phenomenal experiment in "living the good life" of Baja California. And the timing is perfect!

This region of Mexico, located just south of San Diego, California, is moving rapidly into the new global economic revolution, which will position this country well in the next few years. The development of the coastal corridor from Tijuana to Ensenada will drive the local economy and greatly enhance the wine region, which is already providing quality wine, great food, lodging, art and entertainment. This injection of investment capital and vino-tourism will allow the wine culture to expand and grow in new directions as the demand for quality wine, goods and services expand.

In addition, the China-Mexico trade and investment association is going to bring capital, employment and opportunities never before seen in this international border region. This new era of prosperity will present some challenges, but too it will allow Mexico to develop a positive situation for economic growth while changing the future of this amazing country for the better.

In the meantime, we can all sit back and enjoy the wine and food of Baja California as we move into a brighter future.

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Steve Dryden, a MexiData.info guest columnist, is a wine, travel and history writer for the Baja Times.  Mr. Dryden lives in Guadalupe Valley, Baja California where he also guides private and motor coach tours.  He can be reached at sbdryden@hotmail.com.

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Chabert's Restaurant at the Rosarito Beach Hotel