A Life Uncorked
couple in front of campera hotel burbuja - bubble hotel - in valle de guadalupe mexico

A Guide to Valle de Guadalupe: Mexico’s Secret Wine Region

June 14, 2017 13 Comments

*WARNING* SAPPY STORY ALERT: One year ago, I got a text from Joe on a Friday at lunchtime saying, “Hey, do you want to go to San Francisco with me this weekend?” I swear I had to re-read that text 50 times before it made any sense. I mean, it seemed absolutely crazy to jet off to Cali on what would only be our second date. Scratch that…it was absolutely crazy! But, after toying with the idea, Joe eventually convinced me to just say yes. We left early the next morning, rented a convertible, and drove up the California coast to Napa Valley. We spent our time drinking lots of wine and learning more about each other. I’m so glad I agreed to that crazy adventure because that was the weekend I started to fall in love with him. Life has been so happy and the adventures have been non-stop ever since!

So, to celebrate our “Wineiversary” this year, we originally talked about going back to Napa Valley. However, those plans had a slight course adjustment when we met a man in Chile who opened our eyes to a new wine region: Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico. We had never even heard of this mysterious place that boasts blue skies, gourmet food, and fine wine (how could that even be possible?!), but it seemed like a great chance to try someplace new. After doing some research, we decided this was the perfect place for us to celebrate one year of love, laughs, and excitement!

 

Getting To Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe is part of the Mexican state of Baja California and is about a two and a half hour drive straight South from San Diego. The drive across the Mexican border is much safer and simpler than common perceptions may suggest, but before you go, there are a few important things to know:

  • If you’re renting a car, make sure to tell the rental car company that you will be driving to Mexico. Most companies only allow certain car models to cross the border and will require you to purchase Mexican car insurance. This usually runs at around $30 USD/day on top of your rental fee and can be purchased directly through the rental company.
  • Crossing the border into Mexico is a very quick process. We only stopped to pass through a barricade and didn’t even have to show our passports. Returning back into the U.S., however, is much more time consuming. We waited in line for about two hours to cross the border. Granted, this was a Sunday afternoon when traffic tends to be slightly heavier than usual. Still, a longer wait time to get back into the U.S. is a typical experience, so just make sure to factor in some extra time on your return. You can also check real-time wait times for each border crossing at this handy link.

Mexican border crossing

  • Tijuana is nowhere to be worried about. In fact, we even stopped for lunch on the way back at a cute restaurant called Erizo on Sonora for some ceviche and mezcal.
  • Make time to stop in Puerto Nuevo for lobster! Puerto Nuevo is at about the halfway point between San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe. Although it may not look like much, Restaurant Puerto Nuevo #1 is an AWESOME place to stop and eat. Get the Lobster Special—it’s about $25 USD for three fresh, grilled lobster tails, rice, beans, and tortillas. Ugh..that’s a meal I’m still thinking about! Take a stroll down the street once you’re done to grab some kitschy souvenirs from the street vendors before hitting the road for the rest of your road trip to Valle de Guadalupe.

Margarita with view of Pacific Ocean in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico

Bougainvilleas in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico

Lobster special in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico

 

Where To Stay

Glamping has been on my list of “Things to Do” for quite a while, so when I came across Campera Hotel Burbuja on Airbnb, I couldn’t resist making a reservation! The “hotel” is brand new in 2017 and there are currently 5 bubbles located in the middle of a vineyard. They also have plans to add more bubbles and even a restaurant onsite in the future. And seriously, these things are just like fully functioning hotel rooms. Starting at $165 USD/night, each bubble comes with air conditioning, a comfy bed, and a full bathroom that includes a shower. The bubbles are also surprisingly private. Each one is separated by a large stack of hay bales and the front is a no-walk zone that faces a vineyard, so no one can see in. I have to say, it is pretty surreal to lay in your bed and gaze at the stars, and then wake up in the morning overlooking a luscious, green vineyard!

Bubble hotel at night in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

 

How To Get Around Valle de Guadalupe

Since you’ll likely be consuming copious amounts of wine, it’s a good idea to think about alternative means of transportation because #safetyfirst! UberValle does exist and can provide you with a personal Uber driver for the whole day upon request. Be warned though: Ubers are few and far between in the Valle. If you’d rather not rely on trying to snag one, there are other personal driver services that you can book ahead of time like Boca Roja.

 

Wineries To Visit

The Ruta del Vino—main highway through Valle de Guadalupe—is peppered with signs for wineries and restaurants. It is fun and easy just to drive down the highway and make a stop off for a tasting at any winery that catches your eye. There are a handful of wineries in the region that require reservations, but you can get into the majority of them right away. To narrow the list down, here are some of our favorites:

AlXimia Vino Elemental

The first winery we stopped at upon arrival, this place has an architecturally cool building and fun swing chairs. Fun to ease into the wine drinking marathon by swinging and watching the world go by with a glass in your hand.

Outside shot of building at AlXimia Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Couple sitting on swing chairs at AlXimia Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Adobe Guadalupe

This hacienda-style establishment includes a hotel, winery, and a horse breeding facility. The tasting room includes a food truck parked on site so you can grab some tapas as you sip.

Wine glass in front of iron horse statues at Adobe Guadalupe in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Viñas de Garza

I’m a sucker for bougainvilleas! The walk up to this winery from the parking lot is a sight for sore eyes with tons of fuchsia and magenta bushes lining the stone pathway. Here, you can choose between full white wine or full red wine tastings if you have a preference for one over the other (I’m a white wine gal, myself!).

Shot of front walkway at Vinas de Garza in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

El Cielo

This was my personal favorite…and not just because we opted for the chocolate pairing option with our wine tasting! El Cielo has a great atmosphere and interesting cellar tours provided in both English and Spanish. The wine tastes really great. Each variety at El Cielo (spanish for “The Sky”) is cleverly named after a different constellation or astronomer. I love a good theme! We may or may not have bought three bottles from this place to take home.

Cheese and meat board at El Cielo Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Barrels at El Cielo Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Viña de Frannes

This winery has a beautiful view from their covered patio over their massive vineyard. If you’re ready for a snack, the ceviche is so delicious and fresh.

Wine and ceviche at Vina de Frannes in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Shot of building at Vina de Frannes in Valle Guadalupe, Mexico

Barón Balch’é

Another one of our faves. Each wine tasting comes with a complimentary tour of the cellars and the tour guides are great. Added bonus, their shop has a great selection of hats—a must have fashion piece for all Valle de Guadalupe visitors. You can cruise the Valle in style!
Couple wearing hats at Baron Balche Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Chandeliers made out of wine bottles at Baron Balche Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Barrels in Baron Balche cellar, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

 

Where to Eat

Valle de Guadalupe is an up-and-coming foodie’s paradise. Many world-renowned chefs have already laid down roots here, so it’s easy to see why people are flocking to this region for culinary adventures!

Finca Altozano

This restaurant is completely open air and the food uses all ingredients from the region. Finca Altozano has an awesome laid-back atmosphere, perfect for a long, relaxed dinner. The grilled octopus is a must-try and the carajillo—an after-dinner drink made with 43 Liqueor, French Press Coffee, and ice—is a delicious way to cap off the meal. Cheese board at Finca Altozano in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Couple in wine barrel at Finca Altozano in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

Corazón de Tierra

This restaurant is located in a trendy building on top of a hill. It offers a 6-course menu with wine pairing that changes frequently according to local harvests. Corazón is more on the pricey side, so is a great place for a fancy dinner. Plan to go earlier in the evening in the daylight hours so you can enjoy the view.

Deckman’s en el Mogor

Deckman’s is the open-air, sustainable Valle concept of Michelin-starred chef Drew Deckman. This is a super popular spot, so be sure and book a reservation here well in advance.

Castillo Ferrer

This is a cute, understated winery with a full menu. Great for a quick bite, Castillo Ferrer has an on-site fruit garden. Their orange juice is to die for if you need a break from wine…or want something to drink alongside it 😉

Breakfast at Castillo Ferrer in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

 

Valle de Guadalupe is definitely somewhere I will be recommending to any and everyone I meet. Its tasty wines, exquisite cuisine, and friendly people are a breath of fresh air that should celebrated globally. Cheers until next time, Valle!

Couple cheers-ing at El Cielo Winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

 

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Discover one of Mexico's greatest hidden gems: The Guadalupe Valley wine region in this post from A Life Uncorked!

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    Great Aunt Eleanor

    June 16, 2017

    I always feel like I’m there with you two, wait a sec. why am I not???????
    Sounds as if you had a great time- I ‘d like the white wine and chocolate option, that’s for sure.
    Enjoy your romantic times and congrats on your 1st anniversary.

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 26, 2017

      Thank you, Eleanor!! You’ll have to come along on a trip with us one of these days! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Adam

    June 16, 2017

    Amazing, I love your writing!

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 26, 2017

      Thanks, Adam!!

  3. Reply

    Pamela

    June 16, 2017

    Congrats on your wine adversary, That sounds like a perfect thing for my sissy and I to do! Such fun, so informative!!!! Where next?????

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 26, 2017

      Thank you Pammy! You guys would LOVE it there! Just got back from Omaha, Nebraska, heading to Portland and then Denver and Vail, Colorado. Then finally off to visit you guys in Scotland…busy busy!!

  4. Reply

    Jenny&Arthur

    June 15, 2017

    Great story. What a super adventure. It was good to read, We can only imagine the fun you had actually living it.

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 26, 2017

      Thanks guys! We had a blast!

  5. Reply

    Jenny&Arthur

    June 15, 2017

    Great story. You sure had a busy time. Enjoyed it very much.

  6. Reply

    Mandy

    June 15, 2017

    Great post. Sounds like it is mexicos best kept secret

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 26, 2017

      Thank you! It truly is!

  7. Reply

    Derek Tillemans

    June 14, 2017

    Nicely done! I look forward to your next adventure!!

    • Reply

      Katy

      June 15, 2017

      Thank you, Derek!

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