Forget Sonoma or Napa: North America’s trendiest wine region is located south of the border now!
The burgeoning region between the Baja California town of Tecate south to Ensenada boasts brand-new wine-tasting rooms, striking natural landscapes, unique boutique hotels and boundary-pushing restaurants. So, why haven’t you ever heard of it?
Mexico has been making wine for centuries, but Baja’s Mediterranean-esque wine country, the fertile Valle de Guadalupe, has been flying blissfully under the radar of most oenophiles. All that is about to change. With bottles labeled “Baja” popping up on wine lists at the hottest restaurants in Mexico City and San Diego, the Valle de Guadalupe is poised to make a serious splash.
Now is the time to pack your corkscrew and go!
You’ll find most wineries conveniently located off Route 3 (Carretera Federal 3) in the Valle de Guadalupe, just 10 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and about 2 hours by car south of San Diego. Fittingly, it’s known as “La Ruta del Vino.”
The Ruta del Vino Bike Ride & Wine Festival combines a world-class cycling event that tours the Guadalupe Valley, along with a wine festival that pairs the region’s best wine makers with award-winning local chefs.
- Date: July 18th, 2015.
- Distance: 36 miles.
- Start/Finish: Rancho Guadalupe, El Porvenir.
- Type: 36 mile road race & fun ride.
All participants receive a timing chip. The route is a race that is also open to non-competitive riders. A limited number of elite entries will be available for racers, who will compete to set the official course record and win awards and prizes in several categories.
Racers will stage in front of the main field of riders and start first. Racers must use Elite timing chips that must be activated by crossing the mat at the official start, must cross all mid-course mats, and must cross the finish line in order to qualify for awards and prizes.
WHERE TO SIP A GLASS OR TWO…
Casa de Piedra
Covered in bright bougainvillea and surrounded by vineyards, this unassuming stone farmhouse yields some big wines. Try the tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon blend known as Vino de Piedra, or the Piedra del Sol (it’s 100 percent chardonnay). Visitors should call or email to make an appointment for a tour and tasting. www.vinoscasadepiedra.com
The Adobe Guadalupe bed and breakfast and vineyard
The Adobe Guadalupe bed and breakfast and vineyard encourages guests to connect with nature through horseback riding and a walk through the gardens. (Photo: Edgar Lima Garrido)
Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards & Inn
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful winery in Baja; more than 60 acres are planted to vine, the modern tasting room serves up striking mountain views and the six-room Persian-inspired inn is surrounded by lush gardens. The on-property stables offer horseback riding through the vineyards. Here, visitors can sip on bottlings named after the archangels, including the Gabriel, a vibrant blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec. www.adobeguadalupe.com
Las Nubes Bodegas y Viñedos
Scenic views are par for the course at this vineyard. The owner, Victor Segura, was purportedly inspired by the film A Walk in the Clouds, and las nubes translates to “the clouds.” When you sit on the winery’s deck, it’s easy to see the connection. You’ll take in sweeping valley and sky views and taste red vinos named after cloud formations. www.vinoslasnubesbc.com
WHERE TO EAT?
Corazón de Tierra
Since the name means “heart of the land,” expect to find the freshest local, seasonal produce on your plate (ingredients are often pulled from the property or within a few miles’ radius). Dishes are creative treats, such as black cod sprinkled with onion embers drizzled in a lemon verbena sauce, with local wine pairings to match — all in a hypermodern setting created from recycled materials.
The open-air kitchen and dining room at Finca Altozano
The open-air kitchen and dining room at Finca Altozano have a laid-back feel. The menu’s flavorful, minimalist dishes perfectly match the setting. (Photo: Jason Thomas Fritz)
Want to eat under the stars? Head to this unique, open-air eatery to experience a menu of modern grilled meats, including juicy lamb and beef ribs, alongside craft beer and Baja wines in one of the Valley’s prettiest outdoor settings.
Malva Cocina de Baja California
Rustic wood tables and a graffiti wall make this alfresco winery restaurant feel modern (it’s located at the winery Mina Penelope). Here, Chef Roberto Olcocer whips up homemade dishes depending on what he can grow or pick that day. The lamb is sourced from the property’s own herd. This is farm-to-table dining, Mexican style. www.facebook.com/MalvaCocinaDeBajaCalifornia
WHERE TO STAY?
Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe
This colorful, 21-room boutique hotel offers guests a lively on-site restaurant and pool. From here, it takes just a few minutes to drive along dusty, bumpy roads to wineries such as Adobe Guadalupe, Barón Balch’e and Vinicola Torres Alegre y Familia.
Hyper-modern, unique, minimalist — all apt terms to describe these box-like cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the heart of an ecological reserve deep in central Guadalupe Valley. On weekends, the property hosts a market with locally made goods such as jams and olive oil that make perfect gifts, in case your bags are already stuffed with Baja’s best bottles.