We are wine lovers! Living in Southern California has allowed us to visit some fabulous wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and Temecula. We had been wine tasting in Baja before, and were itching to get back. So we grabbed our SENTRI pass and some friends and hit the road to Valle de Guadalupe! If you’re looking for something a little different than Napa and want to practice your Spanish, head south of the border to the Ruta del Vino for an amazing wine tasting experience!
We planned our trip last minute so we did not get to make reservations in advance. This caused us to miss some places which had already filled up and a few wineries closed early due to the rain, but for only a day’s worth of planning our trip was divine!
Airbnb: Villas Victoria
We stayed at Villas Victoria in the Valle de Guadalupe. They were full on Airbnb but we were able to book it through Booking.com. The property consisted of the owner’s house and three small one bedroom guest houses. They were minimalist and cutely decorated, a lot of the features reminded me of our Airbnb in Tulum. The property also had a playground for kids, little tables for drinking wine, and two cute pups roaming around. The host was very welcoming and gave us some restaurant and winery recommendations.
First Stop: Decantos Vinicola
Decantos Vinicola was my favorite. It is so gorgeous! The architecture is stunning and the building sits hilltop with views of the valley. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating on driftwood style tables. My favorite part was the wine bar. It was made from an old oak tree trunk that is massive and hundreds of years old. We chose to do the red wine reserve tasting and it included a variety of unique reds, ranging from sweet to smokey. The tasting was approximately $15USD, which isn’t Mexico cheap but the atmosphere and service were worth it! Our bartender was fabulous and very knowledgeable of the wines. We didn’t eat here but the food looked delicious. In retrospect I wish we would’ve ordered a cheese board.
Second Stop: El Cielo
El Cielo was a random stop for us. As we were driving by, it looked appealing so we decided to check it out. Instead of doing a tasting, we decided to split a bottle of the Copernicus, a delicious blend of cabernet and merlot. We sipped and chatted in cozy adirondack chairs beside the outdoor fire pit. The food smelled great; they were even roasting a pig in hot coals, Kauai style. The ambiance was complete with a peacock roaming the premises!
Third Stop: Cieli
While Cieli’s name is very similar to El Cielo, they are not related. This was our last stop of the day and also a random pick as everything was winding down. Cieli is different than the other wineries as it is mom and pop style and very low-key. We had a tasting for less than $15USD which included 6 different wines. Grant also tried their homemade IPA and was impressed. The service was great and we even chatted with the owner, Don Cieli, at length about his winery and traveling adventures! Cieli has a very homey vibe. We cuddled up in blankets on the porch and took in the view as Grant smoked a cigar. This one is definitely not as fancy as the others but it is appealing for its down-home charm.
Coffee / Breakfast: Estacion Uno & Campestre Los Naranjos
On our way to Valle de Guadalupe we stopped at a coffee shop for an espresso pick me up. It was such a unexpected treat! The coffee was great and the atmosphere was adorable. Grab a drink and a muffin before you hit the Ruta del Vino.
Our host at Villas Victorias recommended Campestre los Naranjos for breakfast so we visited before we drove back home. When we arrived the staff said they were waiting for us and seemed delighted we were there. It is a traditional Mexican restaurant with fabulous service and variety of chilaquiles, which are Grant’s favorite! The food was good but I think the atmosphere made it. The servers were so welcoming and kind and brought baked goods and fresh squeezed orange juice by the pitcher to the table. Our meal ended with a complementary serving of purple Jell-O cubes. Strange, but a thoughtful touch nonetheless.
Lunch: Finca Altozano
Finca Altozano was amazing! It is the ultimate farm to table meal. As in the chickens and pigs are steps from the table! The restaurant is primarily outdoors and the property has huge wine barrels you can climb to the top of for a fun photo! Overall, the food was so delicious. We ordered oysters, a cheese board, octopus, and brussels sprouts to share. The oysters were tiny and average, and we were a little disappointed in the cheese board considering we were in wine country, but the rest of the food was to die for! The brussels were so great we ordered another round, and the octopus was seasoned just right and cooked to perfection.
After our shared plates and appetizers, we ordered tacos because it is Mexico after all! We tried beef tongue, beef cheek, and bean and cheese and they were all so tasty. Unlike a typical taco, these were more like a hard shelled quesadilla divided into bite size pieces. All of this paired with their house wine completed a perfect lunch spot for wine tasting on Valle de Guadalupe.
Dinner: La Esperanza BajaMed
The owner of Cieli recommended La Esperanza for dinner and it was perfect! We didn’t have a reservation but they were able to seat us immediately. They bring out bread and spicy sauces as an appetizer. I had a specialty mojito and the octopus dish (I was in an octopus mood that day!) which included prosciutto and kale, it was as fabulous as it sounds.
** Update: After an amazing experience in Mexican Wine Country we went back to the Valle for a second visit. We were able to visit some wineries that we missed the first time and had an amazing dining experience.
Cuatro Cuatros looks like it is straight out of a magazine! Located by the water in Ensenada it is a good first stop on your way into the valley. You can stop by the tasting room but I recommend buying a bottle at the Mirador Bar which has stunning cliffside views of the Pacific. The bathroom stalls are even ocean view! Sit on hay bales and sip chardonnay while you whale watch or catch a sunset.
Constructed by old boats, Vena Cava has a very cool vibe. The tasting room is inside the retired hulls and the staff was so kind and knowledgable. The property is great for hanging out and has fun cabanas and a bar with local craft beers if you’re over wine already. Don’t miss the food truck! The pulpo tacos are divine.
One of the prettiest wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, Vinas de Garza is a lovely stop. The service was fabulous and the cobblestone building surrounded by vineyards and flowers is a photographer’s dream. We had a DIY cheese board which was pretty basic but the wines and views are great!
Finca la Caroddilla is an organic vineyard with a less traditional vibe. They have a huge grape smashing barrel which is is fun for pictures and their picnic tables overlook amazing vistas. We only had drinks but the food looked delicious.
You have to make a reservation in advance but it is so worth it. Chef Deckman has a Michelin star so the quality and presentation is unparalleled but the price still feels like Mexico. At $70 per person, the multi-course meal isn’t cheap but compared to a typical San Franciscan Michelin, it is a steal! There is an a la carte menu available as well. The ambiance really makes it special. The kitchen is outside and it is about as literal as you can get for farm to table. Fun fact: Chef Deckman is from the same home town as Grant!
Corazon de Tierra is another multi-course dinner with drink pairings that is supposed to be great! It is a little fancier and pricier than Deckman’s. We will have to check it out next time.
Other things to know:
- Ruta del Vino and Valle de Guadalupe are used pretty interchangeably to refer to this region of wine country!
- Take the coastal drive opposed to the inland route on your way from Tijuana. The cliffside views are gorgeous and look like parts of the PCH.
We had such a fabulous time, and I know we will be back soon. When looking for a gourmet wine and food tasting weekend don’t discount our neighbor to the south!
For more information on Mexico, grab this Lonely Planet guide book.