A Taste Of Mexico’s Wine Country
As seen on Forbes Magazine, Amanda Arnold , Contributor
Just a two-hour drive south of San Diego across the Mexican border lies a peaceful Baja California valley brimming with ripened grapes, delicious wines and gourmet cuisine concocted from the freshest of fresh local ingredients. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors take a peek at Mexico’s lovely—and somewhat little known—Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley), a wine country destination screaming for a late summer getaway of the great outdoors, delicious food and plenty of vino.
Interested in trying a sweet alternative to beer? Venture over to our blog to explore Washington’s cider scene.
Where To Play
The Fiestas de la Vendimia, a celebration of the annual harvest, runs from Aug. 2 through 18 this year, which is why we recommend a late summer visit to the Valle de Guadalupe. Many of the valley’s wineries participate in the festivities by hosting special events: This year, there’s a wine pairing dinner at oft raved about restaurant Laja with special guest and prominent Mexican chef Daniel Ovadia on Aug. 7; a street party at the Plaza de las Artes in Ensenada on Aug. 8; and a wine pairing dinner at Viñas de Garza on Aug. 15—to name just a few of the happenings.
But no matter what time of year you visit the Guadalupe Valley, there’s plenty of reason to venture down the dirt roads that lead to the area’s wineries, and there are tons of varietals to sip. Founded in 1987, Monte Xanic offers cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot, sauvignon blanc, sémillon and more; and you can try tempranillo, zinfandel and grenache, among others, at Baron Balch’e. Comparatively shiny and new Hacienda La Lomita, built in 2005, uses slightly more modern winemaking technology, perhaps giving you a glimpse into the future of this wine region; and some of the inns boast their own wineries, as well, including Adobe Guadalupe (more on that in a bit).
Where To Stay
Far and away the most intriguing accommodations in Valle de Guadalupe are found at Encuentro Guadalupe by Antiresorts, an elegant contemporary boutique hotel made up of 20 separate “cabins” that blend with the desert scene (in their own way) without being the least bit rustic. The small, stylish, boxy abodes, anchored to the hill by stilts, offer floor-to-ceiling windows, minimalist décor and curved, open terraces that overlook the gorgeous green and brown valley. Guests are gifted a glass of house wine upon arrival to enjoy in the sleek, open lobby structure, and an infinity pool and hot tub set into the desert rocks offer a lovely place to relax and take in the amazing scenery.
If you’d prefer something a bit less avant-garde but equally quaint and luxurious, try Adobe Guadalupe’s petite, white adobe inn with red tile roof—its design was inspired by the desert architecture of Iran. There are just six rooms, decorated with a mixture of traditional Mexican and Persian furnishings and art, and the on-site winery and cellar, and horseback riding excursions, are sure to keep you entertained. La Villa del Valle, another six-room hotel with stunning panoramic views of the Mexican wine country, includes an orchard, vegetable garden, olive grove, labyrinth, vineyard and pool, as well as a bocce ball court, so you’ll have plenty of excuses to take in the valley air.
Where To Eat
Several restaurants stand out as Valle de Guadalupe’s culinary gems, one of which is Laja, whose oh-so modern and fresh gourmet cuisine focuses on simplicity—using few ingredients to allow individual flavors to pop. Some of those ingredients come from the restaurant’s own orchard and vineyard, and the rest are procured from nearby small producers, including local treats such as olive oil, roast beef and sprouts.
And you know an eatery has achieved a certain status when it provides a heliport for arriving clientele.
Also try Corazon de Tierra next door to La Villa del Valle—its $65 prix fixe menu, offered between 1:30 and 8:30 p.m., changes daily based on what’s available from the property’s orchard and vegetable garden and focuses heavily on local seafood. A recent menu included an amuse bouche smoke yellowtail tostada with dehydrated sea lettuce and avocado puree, and a grilled oyster with Cortes cheese, Swiss chard and lamb fibers. Or, enjoy a lovely view of the sunset in the lounge area at Finca Altozano, which also serves locally inspired eats with mesquite roasted goodness. And we should point out that the surrounding valley provides an awfully pretty backdrop for eating fresh Baja California-style fare.
Read more about the Baja style of living: http://www.bajarealestategroup.net/