A Guide to Valle De Guadalupe
Now that Covid has subsided into a bad dream of the past, people have renewed their interest in travel. Rather than traveling the globe in search of something unique, there is an “undiscovered” experience awaiting less than two hours South of San Diego. Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico’s encore to Napa. Tucked between Ensenada beaches and stunning mountain ranges, the “Ruta del Vino” is approximately 35 miles long, with over 100 wineries, in addition to boundary-pushing restaurants that utilize the abundant local seafood and year-round produce. It’s long been a destination for Mexicans and San Diegans in the know, but more recently has been attracting wine connoisseurs from all over the globe.
Where to stay
As tourism to Valle de Guadalupe continues to thrive, the hospitality industry has responded with a range of new overnight options, from majestic boutique resorts to charming B&Bs surrounded by picturesque vineyard.
01 - Bruma
Bruma is a vision as much as it is a hotel. This 200-acre eco-luxury resort features a working winery, private ranch-style villas, and an eight-suite B&B with breathtaking views of the valley, complete with sun decks, a pool, a jacuzzi, a swimmable pond, fire pits, and rock art scattered around the property. Guests can enjoy a winery tour and tasting, as well as a meal at Fauna, where chef David Castro Hussong showcases his creative and vibrant take on Mexican ingredients.
02 - Encuentro Guadalupe
Encuentro Guadalupe is arguably the most architecturally striking boutique hotel in the valley, featuring 20 modernist eco-pads dotting the hillside and valley floor. It's a back-to-nature experience in a futuristic setting, with an on-site restaurant that is one of the best spots in the area to try Baja Med cuisine. While it may not be a budget-friendly stay, it's an exceptional and memorable experience.
03 - Cuatro Cuatros
CuatroCuatros is a perfect option for those who want to balance their vineyard experience with beach lounging. The property, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and rolling vineyards, features raised yurts with all amenities and a patio that overlooks the property, or luxurious wooden cabin suites designed by renowned architects Mauricio Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo. Guests can indulge in dining and drink options such as Bura, Arsenico, and Tahona Bar, offering mezcal-driven cocktails and seafood-focused dishes, as well as enjoy stunning sunrise views over the vineyards from their bed or rooftop hammocks.
Where to eat
The Valle de Guadalupe has evolved into a prominent wine region and an equally significant culinary destination. The movement began with chef Jair Téllez's remote, seasonal restaurant Laja in 1999, which he described as a "destination restaurant in the middle of nowhere," leading the way for the chef movement in the valley. Since then, the region has established itself as a hub for Baja Med cuisine, a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian influences combined with local seafood and seasonal produce.
01 - Deckman's En El Mogor (Lunch or Dinner)
Deckman’s en el Mogor, led by the Valle's only Michelin-starred chef, Drew Deckman, is situated on the Mogor Badán winery property, offering an idyllic outdoor setting. All the vegetables and fuel for the wood-fired grill and oven come from the property. Despite its campsite-like ambiance, the food that emerges is deserving of its Michelin star, inspired and influenced by the location.
02 - Finca Altozano (Lunch)
For lunch, visit Finca Altozano, a rustic farm-to-table restaurant with stunning valley views. The restaurant features a menu focused on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the outdoor seating area offers a serene and peaceful ambiance.
03 - Cuatro Cuatros - Tahona Bar (Lunch)
Cuatro Cuatros' Tahona Bar offers a break from wine with an emphasis on traditional Mexican spirit, mezcal. The mezcal tasting room, housed in a wooden ship, offers 100 mezcals to choose from, and the restaurant serves classic Mexican tacos and Baja-Oaxacan-inspired dishes, such as grilled octopus doused in mole.
04 - Corazon De Tierra (Dinner)
Corazón de Tierra, ranked at number 40 on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list, is renowned for its modern cuisine grounded in the surrounding gardens, Mexican traditions, old-world techniques, and soul. Chef Diego Hernandez's food is challenging and thought-provoking, making it a sought-after reservation.
05 - Fauna (Dinner)
Fauna is a must-visit if you're staying at Bruma. The restaurant features a seasonal menu, showcasing the best of the region's local ingredients and flavors, providing guests with a unique and memorable dining experience.
Where to sip
01 - Vena Cava
Vena Cava's tasting room, with its industrial-chic decor, isn't just the trendiest spot in Valle de Guadalupe, packed with San Diego hipsters on weekends; it's also a top choice for organic wines in the area. Founded in 2005 by wine-loving couple Phil and Eileen Gregory, the winery's Reserva (a blend of 66% cabernet and 34% syrah) is outstanding, featuring delightful hints of black pepper, prunes, and dried herbs, and a full-bodied, high-intensity flavor. The sauvignon is bright and refreshing, ideal for dry summer days. Sample a mixed or natural wine flight and indulge in Troika, the on-site food truck, serving raw or grilled oysters, steak tartare, cheesecake, and other large-format dishes.
02 - Torres Alegre y Familia
With magnificent vineyard vistas from its tasting terrace, Torres Alegre y Familia is renowned for its French-style wines, among the best in the valley. The nebbiolo is a highly concentrated wine with prominent fruity flavors, especially of red berries, and an earthy terroir that suggests the grapes are cultivated in precisely the right location. In truth, all the wines in Torres Alegre's "Cru Garage" series are exceptional, and their less expensive lines offer excellent value for their quality.
03 - Monte Xanic
For a breathtaking view of Valle de Guadalupe, head to Monte Xanic's grand winery and tasting room in Francisco Zarco, toward the valley's eastern end. The winery's premium bottle, the Gran Ricardo (a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot), is as exceptional as the view is stunning, an endless expanse of grapevines surrounded by dusty rolling mountains. Monte Xanic's focus, unlike many Valle de Guadalupe wineries, is on Bordeaux varietals, though their syrah also stands out.
04 - Concierto Enologico
Concierto Enologico offers a one-of-a-kind experience in the valley, allowing visitors to create their own wine bottle in their Interactive Wine Laboratory. You'll get to sample tempranillo, cabernet, merlot, syrah, and other varietals, then blend them in unique combinations based on your preferences. The vineyard, spanning over 13 acres, employs low-intervention and organic techniques whenever feasible and ages their grapes in stainless steel tanks and various barrel types.
05 - Villa Montefiori
Villa Montefiori, situated at the northwestern edge of Valle de Guadalupe, boasts a specialty in crafting exquisite Italian varietals and blends. Though their brunello and nebbiolo have gained much acclaim, it is their nerone, made from the uncommon aglianico grape indigenous to Southern Italy, that steals the show. This full-bodied wine possesses a robust structure and the potential to age gracefully.
06 - Lechuza Vineyard
Lechuza Vineyard, located at the southwestern end of Valle de Guadalupe, east of San Antonio de las Minas, has earned a prestigious spot on the wine list of Thomas Keller's renowned restaurant, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, a testament to its exceptional quality. The vineyard's chardonnay stands out not only in the Valle but also globally as one of the finest examples of the varietal. What sets it apart is its pure and unadulterated flavor, devoid of any artificial enhancements such as wood or other additives, which offers a true reflection of the grape and the land it grows in.
Directions from San Diego to Valle De Guadalupe here.