When planning a getaway to wine country, chances are that the first vineyard-laden venues to come to mind are France, California and Argentina. But just a few hours from San Diego lies one of the most delightful up-and-coming wine destinations: el Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.
Mexico is typically known for refreshing beverages like beer and margaritas, but the country’s wine scene is becoming increasingly renowned and respected. Baja has its own ‘wine route’ boasting wineries that could easily be mistaken for the likes of Napa Valley or Bordeaux, if it weren’t for the dusty dirt roads and occasional cowboy characterizing the atmosphere. But though Mexican wines are only starting to join the international wine discussion, wine has been produced in the warm, Mediterranean-like climate for over a century, with Jesuit priests even cultivated vines here as early as the 18th century.
A large number of recognized wine varieties are on avail in el Valle de Guadalupe, including (but not exclusive to) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Malbec, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. But it’s not just the high-quality wine at small-scale wineries that are attracting more people to the vineyards; it’s also the accompanying boutique bed and breakfasts and numerous fine-dining options in the region. For example, the quaint fishing village of Puerto Nuevo is considered to have some of the best lobster in the entire Pacific, and the 8-course dinner at Laja is regularly dubbed to be a highlight of any trip to Baja Mexico.
It’s this perfect mix of stylish accommodation, quality restaurants, a burgeoning wine scene and small-town Mexican vibes that are transforming Valle de Guadalupe into a wine destination that’s not to be missed. It would be easy to spend all-day, everyday visiting wineries and sampling the regional varietals. But if you’re pressed for time and not sure where to start your Mexican wine journey, consider a few of the popular names below:
Top Wineries in Valle de Guadalupe:
Barón Balch’é honors Mayan tradition, hence its Mayan name, while also seeking to produce world-class wines that symbolize the unique characteristics of the earth in Baja.
A lovely French-inspired winery in the heart of the Guadalupe Valley. The winery continually seeks to produce the best in Mexican wine.
Baja’s first commercial winery, Domecq’s popularity has quickly spread throughout California and the rest of the U.S. The underground wine cellars are particularly noteworthy.
One of the oldest and most respected wineries in Mexico, L.A. Cetto was originally the vision of Cetto, an Italian who relocated to Mexico and became a wine pioneer in the region.
One of the most beautiful wineries in Baja, Monte Xanic utilizes modern winemaking technology without sacrificing ambience, charm and quality.
To sample all of the region’s wines in one place, consider a visit to La Estacion de Oficios El Porfenir, also known as ‘La Excuelita’. Here you can explore the local winemaking processes, and of course sample and purchase a variety of wine for yourself.
For a complete list of wineries, addresses and wine descriptions, check out this list.
Have you ever considered Mexico as ‘wine country’?