La Escuelita: Baja Mexico’s Wine Incubator

Sustainable. Wine. School.

Sustainable. Wine. School. Three of my favorite things combine (blend?) perfectly in Hugo d’Acosta’s hands-on winemaking incubator called La Escuelita. We decided to stop by this “little school” as a last stop on our way out of the Valle de Guadalupe.

I was impressed on many levels. First, it is visually impressive. From the old-wine-bottle-impregnated entry wall on– the entire campus is cleverly constructed from “waste” materials. Hugo’s architect brother, Alejandro d’Acosta, was the mastermind behind this beautifully sustainable design. He created classrooms clad in discarded wood stakes, an open air pavilion with walls made of re-purposed mattress springs and an urban-chic tasting room and cooperativa café constructed of seasoned wine barrel staves. The result is a feeling of being immersed in an authentic wine experience.

La Escuelita

La Escuelita also has an impressive list of graduates. Each year Thomas Egli, a Swiss enologist, selects (hand-picks?) a small group of students to train. For approximately $100 (the school is a non-profit) the group is led through a course in traditional and modern winemaking practices with an emphasis on coaxing the best qualities out of the Baja’s climate, soils and geographical features (terroir). Accomplished alumni include some who’ve gone on to practice their own style of the enological arts at Vena Cava, Vinas Pijoan, Vinal Lafarga, Tres Mujeres, and other well-respected local wineries.

Finally, I was impressed by the product itself. Greg and I ended our visit with a sample of the school’s work: a wine soda. Young, or joven, Petite Sirah wine made by the La Escuelita students (homework?) is shaken up with cloves and soda water into a refreshing afternoon cocktail. Greg came home and reinterpreted this little sparkler with a splash of Mexican mezcal in a cocktail he calls Soda de Vino Fume. KEN

 La Escuelita

Soda de Vino Fume 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Source Inspired by La Escuelita, Baja, MexicoPublished


  • 5 ounce very young Petite Sirah
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • medium ice cubes (as needed)
  • 3 ounce club soda (or to taste)
  • ½ ounce mezcal (optional)


Lightly crush the cloves and place them with the wine into the pint glass of a Boston shaker. Set the mixture aside about 10 minutes to infuse the flavors.

Fill the metal part of a Boston shaker 2/3 full with medium ice cubes. Pour the wine mixture (including the cloves) over the ice, then cap the shaker with the pint glass. Shake vigorously until well chilled; about 20 seconds. Uncap the pint glass and use a Hawthorn strainer to strain the liquid from the shaker into the ice-filled tumbler; it’s fine if bits of cracked cloves and shards of ice are included in the pour.

Add the club soda and mezcal (if using). Stir vigorously with a long handled bar spoon. Serve.

More on my trip to Valle de Guadalupe: GREG

Valle de Guadalupe: Mexico’s Wine Country

Monte Xanic: A Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Encuentro Guadalupe: Modern Luxury in Baja’s Wine Country

Laja Cocina de Baja: Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico (featuring 2012 JC Bravo Palomino) 

Eating in Valle de Guadalupe: Breakfast Lunch Dinner (featuring wine from Mogor Badan) 

La Escuelita: Baja Mexico’s Wine Incubator