The Up-and-Coming Gastro Getaway: Valle de Guadalupe

Published 30 April 13 12:58 PM
 
Casey Chiotti 

It’s flown under the radar for years—but thanks to new up-market accommodations and an explosion of fine dining and wineries, the time to visit Mexico’s wine country is now.

Why Valle de Guadalupe?

Would it surprise you to learn top-notch, Napa-caliber wines lie within an easy drive of San Diego—and we’re not talking about Temecula? The Valle de Guadalupe, which lies 43 miles south of the U.S.-
Mexico border, has an ideal climate for grape growing and a rich history of viticulture—its first vines were planted in the 16th century. Over the last three decades the area has quietly been undergoing a renaissance. Stunning architecture, haute cuisine, and impressive wine are making it one of the West’s most exciting wine-tasting regions.

Getting There

September is the heart of harvest and a perfect time to visit the valley. From San Diego the drive should take under two hours (we recommend the mellower Tecate border crossing). From the border, Highway 3 will wind you through a picturesque, sparsely populated landscape of rolling hills and the occasional caballero (Mexican cowboy) before delivering you straight into the heart of Valle de Guadalupe.

Wineries

L.A. Cetto (Km. 73.5, cettowines.com) is one of the valley’s largest producers and a good place to start your wine tour. It’s known for Nebbiolo and Petite Sirah, and the grounds are beautiful and tastings complimentary. If you like a minerally white, head just south to Paralelo (Km. 73.5, paralelomexico.com, reservation required), which makes a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. The stark, modern winery belongs to the region’s most accomplished wine maker, Hugo d’Acosta. His original outpost, Casa de Piedra (Km. 93.5, vinocasapiedra.com), is also worth a visit. Built with recycled materials, the rust-colored winery is surrounded by vines and blends seamlessly into the landscape. If you can score a reservation, you’ll also get a tour of the facility, which offers boutique wine making at its finest. The velvety Tempranillo-Cab blend and unoaked Chardonnay are considered some of the best wines in Mexico.

D’Acosta is also the winemaker for Adobe Guadalupe, a beautiful mission-style inn and winery that offers horseback rides through the vineyard and wine tasting by appointment. An arbor-covered path leads you to the cellar-like tasting room, where you’ll try some complex reds. The Kerubiel, which uses the same grapes found in France’s renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, is the most memorable. adobeguadalupe.comHacienda La Lomita (haciendalalomita.com.mx) is one of the youngest wineries in the valley. Located on a hill with beautiful views of the surrounding vineyards, it features a cool modern tasting room and easy-drinking reds. Monte Xanic(montexanic.com.mx) may be one of the best-known wine producers in Mexico, but its artisanal approach makes its wines well regarded among locals.

Eat

Laja (Km. 83, lajamexico.com), often touted as The French Laundry of Baja, has been serving outstanding farm-to-table food for a decade. New Corazòn de Tierra at Vena Cava winery (venacawinery.com) is earning acclaim for its innovative tasting menus and beautiful modern architecture.

Know before you go

There’s plenty of inexpensive wine to be had, but expect to pay at least $25 for good reds and at least $15 for good whites. You’re only allowed two bottles of wine per person back across the border, and many wineries require reservations—so have your hotel call ahead. Also, be safe. Consider purchasing Mexican car insurance (about $35 for 48 hours, bajabound.com) and travel only during daylight hours. Border crossings are typically at their slowest mid-morning. 

ALSO NEW
The Museo Del Vino offers a history of wine growing in Mexico. The modern structure is easy to spot on highway 3 at Km. 83.

What’s New

Hotel Endémico is bringing worldwide
attention to the Valle de Guadalupe thanks to its innovative design from architect Jorge Garcia. Twenty eco-lofts sit perched on top of a hillside overlooking the valley. Featuring crisp white sheets and minimalist décor, the accommodations are chic and comfortable. Each loft comes with its own patio and chiminea (outdoor fireplace)—a perfect spot to plop yourself at sunset with a glass of vino.
Golf carts transport guests to and from their rooms and to the lower parking lot and check-in. The Endémico also has a gorgeous pool, vineyards, and two
restaurants. Km. 75, grupohabita.mx


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