Exploring México’s "Wine Country"
When most people think of the Baja Peninsula, images of sun-soaked beaches, oceanfront day clubs, luscious green golf courses, and azure waters quickly come to mind. And rightfully so. But what’s missing from the picture is the charmingly rustic and undeniably robust wine country that has popped up in the last 30 years.
What you’ll find in the Guadalupe Valley—and nearby Tijuana and Ensenada—is a wine region and culture that rivals Napa Valley and Sonoma. It’s a picture-perfect destination that attracts wine lovers from around the world; there are more than 100 wineries producing world-class (and biodynamic) vinos.
Hugo D'Acosta, a visionary winemaker raised in México and trained in France, can be credited with putting the Guadalupe Valley (known here as Valle de Guadalupe) on the map. He released his first Casa de Piedra vintage in 1997, with a focus on full-bodied, aromatic, and potent wines. (Tip: Reservations are required to visit Casa Piedra; call +52 646 155 3102)
The wine scene flourished. Many of the local wineries boast incredible restaurants and mesmerizing boutique hotels. It’s the best of Old México and modern amenities.
The Guadalupe Valley is only a couple of hours from downtown San Diego. Tijuana is right across the border from San Diego, and Ensenada is about an hour south of Tijuana.
- Renting a car in the United States? Make sure your rental agreement allows you to travel into México and includes insurance coverage while outside of the United States.
- Flying from Los Cabos? The most convenient route is Volaris’s direct flight to Tijuana, where you can pick up a rental car at the airport.
While the Guadalupe Valley is the center of wine culture, there’s much to explore in Tijuana and Ensenada.
- Lucerna Hotel is a modern full-service hotel with swimming pools, on-site restaurants, concierge service, and more.
- Dolce Salato offers a relaxed environment to enjoy a fusion menu and decadent desserts. Make sure to go for breakfast!
- You can’t come to TJ without trying street tacos, and Las Ahumaderas on Taco Row is one of the very best.
- For a slightly more elevated experience, opt for El Taller Baja Med, where you’ll enjoy fresh, market-driven dishes and expert wine pairings.
- Did you know Caesar salads were invited in Tijuana? You can experience the original flavors at the aptly named Caesar’s.
- For the absolute freshest, most delicious seafood, opt for Muelle Tres.
- La Gurrerense is a famous seafood cart in Ensenada, and now its owner, Sabina Bandera, has opened Sabina Restaurante, where folks can enjoy classic Baja seafood in a setting filled with the warmth of family.
- You’ll have the ultimate glamping experience at Cuatro Cuatros. Think five-star safari. There are 19 cabin-like tents nestled among the vineyards and mountains near the Pacific Ocean. It’s the perfect blend of luxury and nature. Don’t miss its Bar Bura, which is the perfect spot for wine and watching the sunset.
- La Villa del Valle is a six-room bed-and-breakfast that feels like an absolute sanctuary tucked away between vineyards and lavender fields. Don’t pass up the homemade granola or areas to explore.
- The loft-style Encuentro Guadalupe is located at the center of the mountain, and it encourages eco-friendly tourism that brings people in touch with nature. The views here are stunning.
- Adobe Guadalupe it’s not only stunning but also offers an incredible wine selection. Come here for lunch to take full advantage of the views (you can also stay here and enjoy communal dining, horseback tours, and wine tasting).
- The Mogor Baden Winery is absolutely darling. Try the merlot!
- With its “table to farm” concept, Deckman’s serves the elevated dishes you’d expect to see at the most high-end of restaurants in a rustic, enchanting setting.
- The reservation-only Italian restaurant Tre Galline wows with its presentations and wine pairings.
- Named one of the best restaurants in Latin America, Corazón de Tierra from chef Diego Hernández emphasizes locally, sustainably sourced ingredients. Make sure to get reservations online ahead of going.
- Famed Tijuana chef Javier Plascencia and photographer Jaime Fritsch collaborated on Animalón at Finca Altozano; it’s a fine dining restaurant tucked away under a 100-year-old-plus oak tree.
A special thank-you to Karla Márquez of Márquez Ulbrich for organizing our trip to the Guadalupe Valley.
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My wife and I are wine lovers and since moving to Los Cabos several years ago, we’ve developed an affinity for Mexican labels such as Roganto, D’Poncelis, and Casa de Piedra. Curious to learn more and knowing that we were only a short distance away from the Northern Baja region, we turned to expert travel concierge Karla Márquez to plan a trip for us.
We fell in love with México’s wine country, and here’s a curated collection of travel tips.