November 29, 2012 | 1:00pm
When privates John Winger
and Russell Ziskey
in the Cold War
thought of picking the girls up in West Germany
for a joy ride in the EM-50
, aka Urban Assault Vehicl
e, it would have been nice if they'd saved some room in that bad boy for some booze,no? The EM-50, while great for picking up girls in Minsk, is no match for a brilliant, revolutionary RV that has hit the dusty trails of the Valle de Guadalupe
Leading Mexican oenologist, and Valle de Guadalupe leader Hugo D'Acosta is always thinking out of the box, and has a mind for aesthetics and design. D'Acosta, his brother Alejandro, and Hugo's wife Claudia Turrent--both architects--have been etching an indelible imprint on wine making and construction in the Valle. In 1992 they began the Estación de Oficios, more well-known as la escuelita (the little school), for local winemakers, which has been instrumental in moving the Valle into the current trend of boutique wineries. Then came La Contra--arguably Mexico's best wine shop--a small chain which brings D'Acosta's wines and the labels produced at la escuelita to the Mexican market. But this past summer they outdid themselves with La Contra Mobil, a converted 1980's model Allegro RV that's been outfitted with wine racks, a wine fridge for whites, and a central cooling system--it's the world's first wine truck!
La Contra Mobil, the EM-13
I first encountered the La Contra Mobil RV this past summer parked at Chef Benito Molina's summer restaurant, Silvestre
. Diners could order wines by the bottle from the waiter, or they could just walk over and grab a bottle themselves. It's a stroke of genius, this RV. It's currently parked at Estacion de Oficios, El Porvenir
next to the new restaurant called La Cooperativa
. La Escuelita is really taking off--there are wine making classes, a coffee shop, a place to drink a wine from La Contra' s wines from the school and all over the Valle de Guadalupe.
Inside La Contra Mobil's wine RV
Inside the cool climate of La Contra's Urban Liver Assault Vehicle, or the EM-13--as I call it--you can walk to the back for the reds--which are displayed in every nook and cranny--or grab a white wine from the small wine refrigerator. Take it back to your hotel, or just pop it open at La Cooperativa and order up some local cheese.
La Cooperativa doesn't quite measure up to the rest of Estacion de Oficios, though. It's more like a college dorm kitchen with plates that aren't suitable for, well...adults. I saw everyone--locals in their 20's--eating steamed rice covered with chicken with a soy sauce and vegetable splash on top. Upon seeing this, I went with the cheese plate which was cut,inexpertly with a butcher's knife; it came off in rough chunks that didn't allow the Real del Castillo flavors open up. I don't understand why there isn't any Baja cuisine here, and why such an amateur operation exists here. And, if you advertise a red and a white by the glass at a wine production facility,it's inexcusable to not have one of those options. How does that happen? Certainly, it's a nice setting to open a bottle though--just bring your own cheese knife!
Estacion Porvenir's recyled design
La Contra is expanding rapidly throughout Mexico, with locations in Tijuana, El Sauzal, two in Ensenada, Aguascalientes, D.F., Morelia, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Guadalajara, and Queretaro.
The RV is a fantastic option for grabbing wines like D'Acosta's Paralelo, which does tastings by appointment only. I'm hoping to see it around the Valle when the weather picks up again--perhaps at some of my favorite stands? We need booze RV's here in So Cal. Damn the ABC and ATF!
La Contra Mobil at Estacion de Oficios, Ejido El Porvenir, calle Emiliano Zapata in front of the secondary school at the entrance of El Porvenir, take the main road from Francisco Zarco heading west until you get to El Porvenir (it will be on your right, from La Mision take the main road to El Porvenir(it will be on your right). Open daily from late mornings until around 5P.M. www.estacionporvenir.org; www.lacontravinos.com