Lechuza in Valle de Guadalupe
In 2002, Patty and Ray Magnussen, participated in the bike ride from Rosarito to Ensenada. When arriving to Ensenada, they asked the locals, “Where should we go for dinner?” After a few people told them about this new restaurant in El Valle, Laja, proclaimed to be the French Laundry of Baja, they made their reservation. At this time, navigating in el Valle was incredibly difficult and they were unable to find the restaurant. They saw one house with the porch light on. The neighbor, Cuauhtémoc Santana escorted them to Laja. Completely enchanted by their meal, great wine and ambiance, they thought, “Something epic is happening here. When we head north in the morning, let’s go through Tecate and try to see the valle in the day light.” That choice was a fantastic one.
They came back to Cuauhtémoc and inquired on the property.
Cuauhtémoc was a Mexican born wine maker who was the family enologist for their project, Rancho Maria Teresa. After the first few months of planning, my father started hanging out more and more in the Laboratory and fields with the Santana’s becoming the best of friends.
In 2005 Ray Magnussen chose to join the program at UC Davis for enology and viticulture. Shortly their after, they started planting the vines.
Four varietals. Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Merlot and Tempranillo. It was a project that Ray and Patty Magnussen loved doing. At that point, they really started grasping the community in el valle.
There were many times in which we needed workers, equipment, advice on every aspect… every single time, there was a neighbor who stepped up. In 2010 the Magnussens built the cave with 10 barrels. By 2012 Ray was making just over 300 cases for the small family of four. He took this opportunity to invite Kristin and her husband Adam to come down to join his passion in the wine world, opening to the public.
Unfortunately Ray Magnussen passed away in 2017 leaving the legacy to his family. As with a bottle of wine, our memories of him will far outlast the time we shared with him.