We've heard wonders about Guadalupe Valley, "the wine route" is a must-do journey for the people of Baja and anyone else coming here to discover what the State offers. Little by little, "Baja-Med" Cuisine has earned a place within the Baja cuisine, but today we get closer to the heart of the valley in a place where wines, cheese, and marmalades allow us to take the taste of Baja California anywhere we want : La Casa de Doña Lupe. (Mrs. Lupe's House)
Mrs. Lupe is a woman of almost 80 years old. Born in Sonora, she came to this region when she was 22 years old, and felt in love with the Valley.
In this interview for Mujer Actual and San Diego Red, the kind woman gave us some of her time after attending a big group of tourists, which is "an everyday thing" according to people attending the business with her. We waited while we tasted one of the artisanal pizzas she makes and a homemade cheese.
Since when Casa de Doña Lupe has been in business?
I started the grape harvest more than 30 years ago, but the wine was only for the family. Casa de Doña Lupe opened to the public almost 10 years ago with wine and marmalades; nowadays we have dishes because visitors started asking for them. My daughter was the one that organized that area. Most of the ingredients we use are produced here in Guadalupe Valley. We started these activities after my husband passed away, my son stopped selling to other people and we started doing it ourselves. I've worked since I was very little and that attitude has allowed me to live in peace all my life.
What can we find in Casa de Doña Lupe?
Bread, marmalades, cheese, wines, artisanal pizzas. Since I was very young I lived in a farm and I learned to grow fruits and plants, then I started making marmalades (one of the most requested products). Currently people are asking a lot for the olive oil with garlic and spices. It is important to mention that the variety of products, specially the marmalades, change depending on the season and the fruits and hot peppers we can grow at that time.
What are the comments of the who visit this place?
Regardless if they are from the region or from other country, the only thing I can say is that they leave this place very happy, they've told us that the place is very cozy, and that there are a lot of things to taste. Some have told me "I'm here to copy your recipes", but that's impossible because they don't do it with the same care that we do. A product doesn't taste good if you do it with a bad mood, the products have emotions, so love is the perfect flavor.
How big is your work team?
There are three more women that help us in the elaboration of marmalades. My daughter has been a great support and all the people working in the house are very fond of their responsibilities. I'm almost 80 years old and I still check all the details, what we have, what we need, if a plant dried, etc.
How's the atmosphere when all of you are preparing the products?
The atmosphere is nice; we have to be happy and ready to do all the things, even cry like when we do marmalades with hot peppers. The first time we did Habanero (havanan hot pepper) marmalade, we cried for five days, so I told my daughter to sell it at a very expensive price so no one would buy it, but then we had to look for more people to work and use double kitchen glove when making this marmalade, it had a lot of demand.
Do you have plans to expand Casa de Doña Lupe or start selling your products in other places?
I prefer people to come visit us here in the Guadalupe Valley, I've been asked to sell wholesale, but I don't want the product to lose the essence that distinguishes us.
Could you send a message to our readers?
I invite all of you to come to Guadalupe Valley and visit Casa de Doña Lupe; we'll be waiting for you here since 9 in the morning until nightfall every day of the year.
original text : Brenda Colón
translation : Daniel Blanco