CNTraveler.com – Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s biggest and best wine region, is just a 90-minute drive from the California border. Yes, it’s still a bit rustic, but aren’t we over fussy tasting rooms? And also, it’s a whole lot cheaper (and less predictable) than Napa. Angelenos in the know have been escaping to the valle in Baja California Norte for the past few years, and a handful of new, sleek rooms and restaurants have made it an even better getaway. Here’s how to do it well in three easy days.
From Los Angeles, it’s about a 3½-hour drive (without traffic) to Valle de Guadalupe. From San Diego, you won’t spend more than two hours on the road. Take I-5 South to Mexico’s Highway 1. Stop for lobster in Puerto Nuevo, a fishing town 50 miles south of San Diego—we like the aptly named restaurant Puerto Nuevo #1. Order yours pan-fried with melted butter and chili sauce and a side of chips and salsa. Pro tip: Pack a few dollars in cash or coins to pay for the toll roads once you cross the border (both USD and pesos are accepted).
The wineries to hit are less than a 15-minute drive from Encuentro Guadalupe’s modern cabins, which are built into the boulder-strewn hills. After a day of wine-tasting, pour yourself a final glass, light a fire in your outdoor fireplace, and get ready for some epic stargazing.
Another great option just a mile away: Bruma de Valle Guadalupe, a sprawling complex dropped in the middle of the desert. The center of gravity here is a single dead tree, around which the rest of the property fans out—pool over here, dirt-biking trails over there. Bruma is known to some as a winery first, bottling organic red blends and chardonnays, but you also could treat a stay here as a wellness weekend and take advantage of the in-room massages and farm-to-table restaurant Fauna, with Chef David Castro Hussong (an alum of Copenhagen’s Noma and Eleven Madison Park in New York) manning the kitchen.
Ruta del Vino
For excellent reds and a chance to go horseback riding through a vineyard (tip: ride first), stop by Adobe Guadalupe. At Finca La Carrodilla, sit in the rooftop garden and have a glass of the crisp biodynamic chenin blanc (few whites are produced in this red-heavy area). Family-owned Hacienda La Lomita is known for a contrasting duo of wines: Pagano (“Pagan”), a bold grenache, and Sagrado (“sacred”), a cabernet-merlot. Stick around for lunch or dinner on the patio of their campestre-style restaurant, TrasLomita. Finally, don’t miss Monte Xanic, whose masterpiece is the Gran Ricardo, a mix of cab, merlot, and petit verdot grapes. This is the one bottle (or case) to bring back.
Up for the 40-minute drive outside the valley? Head to the coast for the Cuatro Cuatros vineyard—Valle de Guadelupe is better known for its reds, so this where you’ll find some whites (and awe-inspiring views of the Pacific).
In between tastings
The French Laundry of Baja is Diego Hernández’s restaurant Corazón de Tierra. The five-course tasting menu is brilliant (and a fifth of what it’d cost up north). For a casual vibe, check out Deckman’s, which is more lavish cookout than Michelin bistro—though chef Drew Deckman does have a star. Order the quail and pork belly roasted over carob wood. Deckman’s al fresco oyster and champagne bar, Concha de Piedra, is also a must visit; grab a seat at one of the long wood tables next to the upper vineyard on Mogor Ranch, where the crisp champagne and salty bite of oysters cut the desert heat. The food truck Troika is great for a quick bite or a beer; get the seafood tostada—fresh octopus, shrimp, and scallops piled high on a crispy tortilla.
Every September, the Guadalupe Valley Wine, Food, and Music Festival brings together the region’s better-known chefs, winemakers, and musicians for the one-day party (with a few national and international names as well; Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s Pujol, took part last year).
Sep. 28, 2018 Source: CNTraveler.com