If you’re a wine connoisseur, chances are you have already checked California’s Napa Valley off your oenophile bucket list. So what’s next on the list? Mexico.
Go 75 miles south of the U.S. border and you’ll discover Mexico’s answer to Napa, the wine country known as Valle de Guadalupe. Although this compact destination is still discovering itself, it’s arguably one of the country’s most sophisticated travel destinations.
There are many Waze to get there
Although you can fly into Tijuana International Airport, you’ll still have a 90-minute car trip ahead of you, so most visitors opt to drive themselves to Valle de Guadalupe.
If you opt for the car, you’ll have several border-crossing choices. If you want minimum hassle, try the less-confounding Otay Mesa or Tecate. If you are a confident traveler, consider going through Tijuana. The border crossing itself may be frenetic but once through, you’ll be rewarded with a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast. (Make sure that you access the Highway 1 cuota (toll) road directly after entering Mexico and be prepared to offer a dollar or two to the non-violent activists protesting the fact that Highway 1 is still a toll road despite promises to drop the fees once it was paid for.)
In an effort to develop tourism, some of the resorts and wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, such as El Cielo Winery & Resort, by Karisma, offer to pick guests up at San Diego International Airport and drive them down to the resort. Without a doubt, this is the most hassle-free method for an overnight visit.
Once a traveler accesses the valley, they’ll find it easy to get around. The main roads are well-maintained and have ample signage for the most popular wineries.
Who goes there?
Wine-lovers exploring the region include organized tour groups out of Tijuana, as well as day-trippers from cruise ships docked in the nearby port city of Ensenada, 18 miles from the valley.
“We’re getting lots of visitors from the U.S.,” says Aimé Desponds, the Swiss-born owner of Sol y Barro winery. “They’re driving themselves in, but the ebb and flow depend on the current political situation.”