Mexico is known for its flavors—simmering chipotle-tinged meats, Mission-style burritos dipped in six kinds of salsas, shaken agave margaritas and cerveza that tastes like a summer vacation. But in recent years, the country is tempting the palate in a new way, putting it on the map alongside the world’s most famous wine regions in Italy, France, Argentina, Napa and Sonoma.
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California’s emerging wine region, has quickly become a buzzy destination getaway for its Instagram-worthy wineries, delicious pours, and blossoming gastronomic scene, all at a price that won’t break the bank. Best of all, it’s easily accessible—we recommend a quick flight down to San Diego, where you can rent a car and drive just a couple hours the rest of the way.
There’s more than one way to taste the valley, whether you’re looking for a quick weekend escape or an extended vacation (if time permits, the charming coastal city of Ensenada is less than an hour south). If you’re the kind who likes to take advantage of the established relationships with winemakers and comfy transportation that comes with a tried-and-true tour group, Baja-based Club Tengo Hambre, a food tour collective, does it right, offering pick-up in San Diego, with onboard mezcal service en route to the wineries and delicious, authentic meals. If you’re more into the roads less traveled, DIY it and take the time to explore the valley’s endless hidden treasures and taco stands.
Most wineries and restaurants are open year-round, but spring and autumn sojourns are advised for avoiding summertime crowds (not to ment 115-degree heat!), and off-season travel also means better rates at the cool hotels and easier reservations at the trendiest eateries.
We’d be remiss not to mention that the U.S. State Department’s recent travel advisory warned deeply against travel to five Mexican states, citing those age-old fears of alcohol-related incidents, theft and cartel violence. But low warning levels for both Baja California and Baja California Sur mean you can travel here as you always should no matter where you go—be simply being aware and cautious. With 750,000 wine-thirsty visitors venturing into the valley each year, and the hotel and restaurant industries booming, the region has an interest in keeping visitors safe.
Pack your sunnies and browse our guide for where to eat, sleep and, of course, drink.
Where to Drink Wine in Baja California
(Courtesy of Monte Xanic)
Baja California produces 90 percent of Mexican wine, thanks to its Mediterranean climate and rainy winter season, which allow grapes from all over the world to flourish. Wineries produce French, Italian, and Spanish varietals, among others, but the terroir is uniquely Mexican.
Among the valley’s most decorated vineyards, Monte Xanic boasts hundreds of awards from international wine competitions. A visit to the winery’s imposing, modern digs could include a thorough tour of the fermentation room and wine cave where their prized cabernets, syrahs and chardonnays are aged to perfection. Or just head straight away to the impressive tasting room, where floor-to-ceiling windows open up to commanding views of palm-dotted vineyards and an onsite lake.
Down the road, at Villa Montefiori, winemaker and founder Paolo Paolini experiments with the Italian varietals he was reared on. As a third-generation winemaker, he relocated from Italy’s Le Marche region in 1998 and has been growing his own vines on nearly 20 Mexican acres since. Sample sangiovese, bebbiolio, and aglianico from the shady wooden deck of the impressive estate, set among the vineyards.
For a more modern ambiance, pay a visit to Decantos Vinícola. Slightly resembling a space ship landed among 20 precious hectares of grapes, this concrete and stainless steel winemaking fortress is nevertheless enchanting. Meticulous to the point of obsession, from harvest to bottling, their wines are characteristically well-rounded and absolutely delicious. While Decantos is known for their reds, their rosé is not to be dismissed and tastes perfect on the sunny wraparound veranda.
Come back to earth at La Finca de Carrodilla, an eco-friendly winery with its own organic farm, abundant with animal life (cows, goats, chickens, oh my!). Little sister of nearby Lomita Winery, the charming bodega is more modern than rustic, and produces some of the best monovarietals around. Winemaker Gustavo Gonzales, a Berkeley and U.C. Davis alum, masters a red blend, Canto de Luna, dry and fruity enough to sip away on a sunny spring afternoon. Pro tip: Pair your wine with some of the property’s freshly made cheese.
Next stop for sophisticated sipping: Viña de Frannes. If Restoration Hardware had a Mexican winery, this would be it. Outfitted in cool-tones and chic, industrial furnishings to combat the surrounding landscape’s golden desert hues, the tasting room, wine boutique and restaurant offer a pristine refuge from a day spent in the sweltering sun. Tastings of their signature reds and perfectly refreshing sauv blanc pair well with dishes from the kitchen, inspired by über -local ingredients that showcase the bounty of the land.
Click through for where to eat, stay and play.
On – 30 Jan, 2018 By Mariesalcido