Valle de Guadalupe
Although we may not be experts in most topics about our blog, touring wine country is definitely something in which we have had A LOT of practice. With years of work in the industry for Aaron and a combined total of well over 100 trips to wine country around the world, we can confidently say that we are certainly experienced in this area!
The appeal to be near Mexican wine country was definitely a draw in considering the north Baja California region of Mexico as a place to the live. There are three major wine producing regions in Mexico, but the Valle de Guadalupe, about a two hour drive from San Diego, accounts for roughly 90% of Mexico’s total wine production. It has a long history of winemaking, dating back to 1888 when its first winery, Bodegas de Santo Tomás, was founded. Despite currently having more than 100 wineries in the Valle, it is still somewhat of a hidden gem with many people unaware of just how incredible it is. Nonetheless, the excellent restaurants, superior accommodations and unique wine blends are quickly gaining popularity.
The drive along the coast from Rosarito to Ensenada is spectacular and has breathtaking views. Once you turn inland to head towards the wineries, the main road (which is paved) winds through lush vineyards and past rows of olive trees. Most of the wineries will then have to be accessed on dirt roads (and even at times on a dried up river bed)…but no need to worry, it just adds to the area’s charm and makes for a unique “Mexican massage” experience! Additionally, GPS navigation systems sometimes will get you in the general proximity of many of the wineries, but be prepared for them to bring you to the complete opposite side of town as well. Our advice is to just follow the signage…although, still no guarantees.
Overall, the area produces many excellent red wines and specifically the following blends are the most popular: Tempranillo, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot as well as a few others. Although most of the region is too hot to grow white wines well, there are a few areas in the Valle that do get cooler and thus produce some decent white varietals including Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Similar to other wine regions around the world, exquisite restaurants can also be found in the Valle, but at a fraction of the cost! The hot, new food trend “Baja Med” (a fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines) is especially popular in the Valle de Guadalupe wine country. One of our favorite lunch spots, Chef Javier Plascencia’s Finca Altozano, is well known for its beautiful view and use of fresh, regional ingredients. However, we have heard of many more places that we have not yet had the chance to try, but which are definitely on our list!
Of all things to do in the surrounding areas of Rosarito and Ensenada, visiting the Valle de Guadalupe wine country is unquestionably our favorite. If you are ever in the southern California and/or northern Baja California area, we highly recommend that you add it to your MUST DO list!
The oldest winery in North America is located in Mexico. Casa Madero was founded in 1597 and is still operating today!