Baja Wine Should Be a Bigger Deal in the U.S.
You’re probably familiar with the Big B’s of winemaking: Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Barolo. But Baja? Maybe not. The Mexican peninsula isn’t very well known in the U.S. for its wine, but a group of young winemakers is trying to help the region get the viticultural love it deserves.
Tresomm was founded in 2017 by Taylor Grant, Conner Mitchell, and Christopher Miller. The trio first met through the Los Angeles sommelier community, and after a group jaunt down to Mexico, their shared passion for Baja’s viticultural diversity led to talks about starting a vineyard. After numerous glasses of wine and a life-changing meeting with one of the region’s wine pioneers, the group was all in.
They started scouting growing sites and ultimately decided to work with a local family in the Valle de Guadalupe. “The vineyard that all of our wines come from is a special experimental vineyard planted decades ago,” Miller says. Once the trio made a deal with Camillo Magoni, the vineyard’s proprietor and farmer who had already been making wine, Tresomm was officially a real thing.
Miller, who currently owns and makes wine for Seabold Cellars in Monterey, California, acts as the consulting winemaker for Tresomm, although all three members participate in blending sessions and vinification decisions. Miller also paves the way for barrel selections and harvest decisions.
Taylor Grant, who was one of the 2019 Food & Wine Sommeliers of the Year and is also the wine director at Scopa Italian Roots, Dama, and Old Lightning in Los Angeles, is spearheading the business side, ensuring that their wines make it across the border and land in new markets. (Earlier this year, she shared her favorite Baja wines with us.)
Mitchell is a former wine salesman and bar and restaurant consultant and the current owner of Los Angeles restaurant Dudley Market. He lends his talents to the marketing and branding side. “Selling wine from all over the world taught me that a good wine could be outsold by a wine with better marketing. Since then, I have always considered both parts equally important in the total success of a wine label,” he says.
In an experimental vineyard loaded with many grape varieties, how does one go about choosing which grapes to work with? “Every harvest, we go in with an ideal plan of which varieties we feel have showed best over the last few harvests, but we always keep an open mind,” Miller says.
Grant recalls the group’s wide-eyed initial reaction to Mexican Grignolino. Having worked with Italian wines for many years, Grant always felt passionate for native Italian varieties. But Magoni’s vineyards go way beyond those. “Camillo has many varieties planted, so we are lucky to have options, which allows us to seek out varieties that are interesting to us but also work well down there,” she explains. After the initial production of Grignolino, Tresomm expanded with Aligoté, Falanghina, and Touriga Nacional bottlings.
So why Mexico? Miller admits to being skeptical at first. He tagged along on that first trip for fun and didn’t really expect much to come of it. However, upon meeting Magoni, trying his wines, and touring the abundant old vines he saw the potential for something great. “Every year we are seeing improvements in the winemaking landscape—they’re taking it very seriously, and it shows,” Miller says.
Grant and Mitchell were both raised in Los Angeles, so Baja has always been close for both of them. “The Valle is actually closer to us than Napa,” Grant says, describing her love for the region’s rich history and gnarly old vines. Mitchell grew up visiting Baja and recalls summers sailing down to Ensenada and going surfing.
Grant says she loves the inviting and laid-back ambiance of the area, deeming it a place where she truly enjoys spending her free time. “The spirit down there is experimental, and we have been able to join in on that momentum,” she says. “The Magonis have become like family to us and we really feel at home when we’re there.”
Because of this newness to the commercial winemaking scene, Miller says that Tresomm is always experimenting. Currently, Grignolino Rosé, Aligoté, and Touriga Nacional are their staples, though there’s certainly more to come. Mitchell would love to see the trio experiment with extended skin contact wines, as well as bubbles. “This year we tried our hand at Falanghina,” Grant says. “Next year could be Greco—we will see!”
Tresomm wines are available in California, New York, and Texas. Here is a full list of retailers.