Opening a winery in Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe freed Vena Cava owner Philip Gregory from the bounds of tradition to which most Old World winemakers are tethered. He’s free to be creative, growing a spread of organic grapes, offering a handful of ambitious blends, and opening a tasting room with an upside-down boat for a roof.
That Gregory lived a past life as a sailor is evident in the nautical theme running through Vena Cava’s design, which playfully juxtaposes with the winery’s desert setting. That he has a soft spot for sustainability is evident in much of it being made from reclaimed materials.
Pulling boat hulls from the nearby port-city of Enseñada, discarded wood and metal from nearby construction sites, and decorative accents like scrapped focal lenses from a nearby eyeglass factory, husband-and-wife architect team Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turrent built Gregory’s bohemian oasis in the middle of what some call the “Napa of Mexico.” For relying so heavily on pre-used materials on the exterior, the interior tasting room succeeds in evoking an air of modernism, with an elegant glass counter and a vaulted ceiling whose apex is, of course, a land-locked fishing boat.
The winery offers an array of classics from cabernet sauvignons to tempranillos and ambers, as well as a variety of blends. You can enjoy a tasting in one of their outdoor installations overlooking an in-ground duck pond. You’re not quite allowed to swim in it, but Vena Cava isn’t exactly a bastion of “rules” in the first place.