It’s no coincidence that Mission Pacific’s signature restaurant is called Valle. It’s named for the Valle de Guadalupe, one of the world’s up-and-coming wine regions, 90 miles south of San Diego at the north end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. As this region vies for attention among oenophiles, visitors to the restaurant can get front-row access to tasting Guadalupe Valley Wines… and it’s not just because of Oceanside’s proximity to the border.
Before joining Valle, Executive Chef Roberto Alcocer, a Baja native, spent years developing relationships with the winemakers in la valle, as locals call it. Now he’s brought his knowledge and connections to Mission Pacific. Valle boasts a broad selection of delicious and intriguing Valle de Guadalupe wines, and guests have been getting to know the winemakers personally through a series of wine dinners, pairing their wines with Alcocer’s award-winning cuisine.
“Roberto has always been a pioneer for Valle,” says Kris Magnussen, head winemaker at Vinos Lechuza, the featured winery at Valle’s inaugural wine dinner this past February.
A little background on Guadalupe Valley Wines
Valle de Guadalupe has been called Mexico’s Napa Valley — but think of the Napa of 40 years ago, before the commodification, fancy hotels, and sky-high prices.
La valle traces its history to the early 1900s, when European immigrants came across its terrain of loamy soil and rolling hills. Combined with a Mediterranean climate that’s enhanced by breezes off the Pacific, the area proved perfect for grape cultivation. Since then, the region has grown to more than 100 wineries producing a dizzying array of varietals: reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, and Zinfandel, alongside white wines like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon.
But what hasn’t changed are the timeless rusticity of the landscape and the tight-knit community. Vinos Lechuza’s story is typical: Twenty years ago, Magnussen’s parents, Patty and Ray Magnussen, were riding bikes along the Baja coast, stopped for dinner at a hidden restaurant, and were bowled over by the quality of the local wines. Resolving to find the source, they made a detour to la valle and were so enthralled that they bought a property there.
They worked with local winemakers to turn a small vineyard into something bigger. Ten years and four varietals later, they knew they had made the right decision. By 2012, Vinos Lechuza was annually producing some of the best-known Guadalupe Valley Wines with 300 cases of Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Merlot, and Tempranillo.
Equally important, they found a community. As they eased into the local lifestyle, they built relationships with their neighbors and quickly came to respect their expertise on everything from staffing to equipment sourcing, all while gaining inspiration from the local culture.
They also worked with local chefs — and that’s where Alcocer comes in.
Valle Wine Dinners at Mission Pacific
La valle was present in Alcocer’s consciousness since childhood, and it remained close to his heart even as work led him to some of the world’s leading kitchens in Spain and Mexico City. When he returned to Ensenada in 2014 to open his landmark restaurant, Malva Cocina, he became an integral part of the Valle de Guadalupe wine community.
“He has given me profound advice. He has been a friend and a confidant,” says Kris Magnussen, who took over Vinos Lechuza from her parents. “I could not have picked a better person to pair up with.”
Guests at Valle’s intimate, prix fixe wine dinners can get to know a different Valle de Guadalupe winemaker every month. Alcocer draws on his extensive personal relationships to showcase the local wines and wineries, and la valle’s wine community couldn’t be more thrilled. In March, for example, lauded winemaker Lulu Martinez Ojeda from Bruma Winery paired her standout wines with Alcocer’s inventive dishes.
While kicking off the culinary evening, Ojeda noted of both herself and Alcocer that, “We’re very much involved in what we do, and it really shows in what you taste.”
“What’s enormous and great about [la valle] is that it’s about everything — what you’re smelling, what you’re seeing, what you’re tasting…what we have in our orchards,” she continued. “In Valle tonight, you’ll feel what it’s all about.”
We invite you to experience Valle firsthand and savor Guadalupe Valley wines in Oceanside. For more information on upcoming events and wine dinners at Valle, follow Valle on Instagram @ValleOceanside.
To book a table for a memorable dining experience at Valle anytime, make your online reservations here.