Creator Of An Enchanting Wine Destination
By Pat Tyson
As Chief Executive Officer of Vinicola El Cielo in the Valle de Guadalupe, Gustavo Ortega has created a destination that offers a unique wine-tourism experience that is comparable to that found anywhere else in the world. Visitors are entranced by the breathtaking scenery, verdant gardens surrounded by grape vines, and the mysticism of the underground wine cellar. Latitude 32 Steakhouse, the winery’s official restaurant, is designed so that diners may delight in the magnificent view of the Valle from any table.
“Here, our vision is to create a place where the people who visit us can enjoy the freshness of the Guadalupe Valley, to breathe in the peacefulness, the clean air, along with all of the wine-tourism experiences to be found in the region,” Ortega explains. They will find comfortable rooms, a spa, organized private events – such as weddings or business meetings – and the opportunity to enjoy all the area attractions. And he is highly optimistic regarding the future of Baja.
“Every day Baja California undergoes changes,” he explains. “The present scenario is very different from that which existed a few years ago. Mexican wines and cuisine are having more impact.” He points out that there is greater growth potential as the infrastructure, with better roads, facilitates crossing the Border. “This is the best promotion for the Valley and improves the image outside the country.”
Another great area of opportunity is the national market. As Mexican wine improves, he believes, there is more interest in visiting Baja California. And a large market also exists in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Sonora, Sinaloa, as well as the rest of the country. With the large investments in equipment in the winemaking process, the wine industry in Baja California will have the capacity to keep moving forward and, possibly, be regarded as the “New Napa.”
El Cielo is the first consolidation of a young company. Currently, it is a vineyard that expands every day, with more than 54 acres of vines already planted, although the project contemplates growing vines not only in the Valley, but in Ojos Negros as well. The micro-climate in the Valle, responsible for producing grapes that create the award-winning wines, results in the richness of the soil and the prevailing moisture-laden sea breezes.
“At the moment, we have eleven different labels, with three more premium high quality wines that will be released during 2016,” Ortega predicts. The winery has received national and international awards, with its wines being served in the best hotels, restaurants and wine shops throughout the country. As for the culinary side of the project, in 2016 the restaurant, Latitud 32, will present a new menu that will feature the concept of local Baja cuisine, plus traditional ancient Mayan cuisine from Yucatán, resulting in a Baja-Yucatán fusion.
Finally, the hotel, which is a highly important part of the El Cielo project, is estimated to be ready by the end of this year. It will include fifty-eight suites, a boutique, spa and convention center, and will complete the enological, culinary and tourist facilities envisioned by the company.
“Since the El Cielo Hotel stands out as a different and innovative wine-tourism destination, it will become a “must” for domestic and international visitors to the Valley,” asserts Ortega. “I enjoy being at the winery, greeting the visitors, telling them our story and sharing with them what we do.” He speaks enthusiastically about his pleasure in coming to Baja California.
“When my wife and I came to Guadalupe Valley, we fell in love with the climate, the views, and the wines from the region,” he says. “And we realized what the Mexican wines could give to all the people who visit the Valley.”
Born and raised in Mérida, he attended high school at Colegio Montejo, followed by taking Business Management at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. He also studied in America, taking a one-year MBA course at Harvard, and a hospitality program at Cornell University. He also earned a Diploma in High Management at ANAHUAC University, which he says defined the direction of his life in many aspects with “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Corvey, which philosophy he says he applies daily.
At an early age, Ortega was attracted to politics and business management, throughout his school years exhibiting leadership qualities. In the political arena his involvement included Department secretary for Quintana Roo Tourism, Mayor of Cozumel, FONATUR delegate in Cancun and federal deputy during the LVI legislation. In the private sector he owns tourist-oriented companies, collaborated as General Manager at Allegro Hotel in Cozumel and was sub – manager at Occidental Grand Xcaret.
However, Ortega does find time to appreciate the lighter side of life by starting his day by exercising to saxophone music. He also enjoys listening to tropical music, heavy rock and rock-pop from the eighties. But most of all, he admits to loving romantic Spanish music. And when it comes to traveling he has his favorites.
“There are many interesting and fascinating regions in Mexico; from deserts to the tropics, to the jungle, to the beaches or forests,” he says. “Lots of amazing areas, but my two favorites are Cozumel, where I came from, and Valle de Guadalupe.”