It’s easy to say we love wine. But Geneviève Rioux loves wine. As Wine Director at the iconic Los Cabos Rosewood property – and Area Director of Wine Americas for the hotel brand – Geneviève oversees the wine programme for every dining outlet at the resort. She is also in charge of the spectacular La Cava experience, where she shares unique food and wine pairings with guests in an intimate cellar setting. We chatted with her about her vision for a wine experience filled with curiosity – at Las Ventanas and beyond.

Amex Essentials: How would you describe your role at Las Ventanas al Paraíso?

Geneviève Rioux: There are two sides to my role: the front of the house and the back of the house. The back of the house means building, having a good structure – it starts with what I call building a DNA for the hotel. When I arrived at Las Ventanas, there was a wine list – this feels like a thousand years ago! – and I thought, “Okay, what are we doing? What kind of DNA can we build?” 

The first challenge was sourcing, because everything I wanted wasn’t available in Mexico. I asked the managing director if I could import my own wines, because if you want exclusivity, and if you want to bring little gems, that’s the only way. I designed the programme to have big, amazing classics – like Bordeaux, Burgundy – as well as the in-betweens, the stuff that only people who know wine will recognise, and then obviously everything that’s natural, organic – the stuff that’s a mystery in a hotel. It’s my role to let people discover.

I rarely introduce the wine by saying it’s natural or organic, because many people can have a preconception. So I have them try it, and once they feel a connection, I talk about the story of the wine. I mention it’s an organic crop or low-intervention. I always say the truth is in the glass, not the speech.

[Photo courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts]


How about the front of the house?

It’s all about building relationships with guests. Maybe they come for three or five nights or a whole week. Some of them come back every year. So it’s about building a journey for them. I come up to them and say, “Hey, remember we moved from that Cabernet you like to a pulpy Grenache from the Rhône Valley? Well, I have something fresh and crispy. Are you ready to try it?” 

Every time they come, something has changed. And with first-time guests, I have to discover what they like.

How about those guests who are more traditional and maybe think that mainstream or more expensive wine is always best?

That’s a tough one. I do think it’s about comfort zone, and we’re all like that in different ways. We all have a restaurant we always go to, and we order the same thing. I have to bring the guests out of that comfort zone. And it depends on how far they want to jump. I rarely introduce the wine by saying it’s natural or organic, because many people can have a preconception. So I have them try it, and once they feel a connection, I talk about the story of the wine. I mention it’s an organic crop or low-intervention. I always say the truth is in the glass, not the speech. 

[Photo courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts]


You do your own imports? How do you find the winemakers that will eventually make it into the wine programme at Las Ventanas al Paraíso? 

This is challenging when you’re on the beach. I try to go at least once a year to Europe. It’s not always possible, but I arrange my schedule to go to wine fairs here and there. I go to visit wineries. There’s a Raw Wine Fair hosted by a fantastic sommelier, Isabelle Legeron; there are fairs in LA, New York, Toronto and Montreal. This year there was one in Miami and another great one in Mexico City. It’s good, because it’s not the same winemakers in each one. I read a lot of blogs and wine magazines, and I talk to friends. That’s how I manage to find little gems.

Tell me how first you got interested in natural wines. 

I think for everyone it happens by accident. For me, it happened in the early 2000s. I was in Geneva, and I was already into wine. I was very curious, and I found a really nice, big wine shop, and they managed it kind of in the same way I built my wine list – big classics and some natural wines. The sommeliers there were amazing with me, because I was a drinker of big, strong Cabernets and Malbecs, so they brought me to explore smoother Bordeaux – natural, but not too different from my palate. It’s the same thing that I’m doing: an evolution. They brought me to the vineyards to meet the producers. After six months of drinking natural wines, I never went back.

[Photo courtesy of Carlo Prearo]


For someone who is just getting started with natural wines, how would you suggest they approach them?

It depends on where you live. But ideally, you find a guide. A personal sommelier, maybe at your local wine shop, wine bar or restaurant. Someone who can assist you. Be very transparent. Tell them what you’re drinking right now. If you have a good professional, they will guide you step by step. If you’re drinking powerful reds, technically, this person should not give you a Beaujolais, because it will taste like water. Or you can tell them, “I tasted this, and I liked it,” and this person will guide you. 

And the app Raisin is magic! I always use it if I’m going to a new city, it’s a good tool.  

What are some of the most interesting wines you’ve recently tried?

One is a sake that I tasted at a Raw Fair: Daigo No Shizuki. It’s very unique. They produce it artisanally, and they don’t use any machines. It’s called the Kimoto method, and it was a dream. 

What has impacted me the most has to do with my preconceptions. Because all my professional life was in France, my studies in wine were in France, my palate was all about the European approach. When I first came to Cabo, New World wine was not working with my palate. It felt too jammy, too heavy, with too many chemicals. When I was at the Raw Wine Fair in New York with one of my sommeliers, they had two big tables of American wines that we never touched in two days. Right before they closed the fair, we tasted wines from two wineries, and they were so good! They were from California: Coquelicot in Santa Ynez and Lo-Fi in Los Alamos. It changed everything. It reminded me that I have to be open-minded. Now, when I arrive at the Raw Fair, I want to taste all the American wines! 

Tell me about some unique pairings you like.

Sake and mole. I also love an aromatic skin contact wine – Muscat, Gewurztraminer – with spicy Asian food. Guests can learn about some of these pairings at La Cava.


[Header image by willowcreative]

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