Valle de Guadalupe is like the crazy uncle of wine regions. You know, the one who shows up drunk to family functions and swears a little too much? It’s a little unpolished and pretty raw, but that’s the whole appeal. Compared to the other wine regions I’ve been to, Valle de Guadalupe feels exciting and new. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of modern and traditional, with innovative ideas and trendy designs, combined with those addicting laid-back Baja vibes.
TIPS FOR VISITING VALLE DE GUADALUPE
BRING YOUR PASSPORT You used to not need a passport to cross into Baja California from San Diego but as of recently, it’s now a requirement.
PURCHASE MEXICAN AUTO INSURANCE If you’ll be driving to Valle De Guadalupe from the United States, your car insurance will most likely not be valid in Mexico. I recommend purchasing a Mexican Insurance policy, just in case. I recommend BajaBound.com as it’s around $25 USD per day.
If you’re renting a car, double check with the company to make sure you’re allowed to take it into Baja.
DOWNGRADE YOUR CAR If you have a flashy expensive car, consider a renting a low-key option if you’ll be driving in Mexico. Not only will you eliminate the unwanted attention but the roads to the wineries in Valle De Guadalupe require a bit of off-roading down long, bumpy trails.
DECIDE ON THE WINERIES YOU WANT TO VISIT IN ADVANCE Most of the wineries are located pretty far off the main road and some are hard to find. It’s not like in Temecula where you can window shop and then pull into the one that looks the prettiest. It’s a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance.
LANGUAGE BARRIERS Everyone at the wineries we visited spoke excellent English. They are used to tourists. Some of the local restaurants didn’t speak much. Everyone was accommodating to our lack of Spanish but as always, learning a few key phrases in the local language can go a long way.
UBERVALLE Since the whole point of visiting Valle de Guadalupe is to drink wine, you’ll probably be looking for way to get around. Uber has a special service called UberVALLE which basically puts you in contact with a driver who will pick you up either in Ensenada or at your hotel and drive you to the different wineries for the day. You can call a regular Uber as well, but I noticed that there were not as many cars on the road so the wait times were long.
CHECK THE BORDER WAIT TIMES Getting back across the border can take forever (2-4 hours), especially on the weekends. Check this website for current wait times on both pedestrian and car lanes. HERE
LA RUTA APP Gives you a pretty good map of every winery in Valle de Guadalupe, plus the option to click their profile and learn more. The app is a little glitchy and kind of slow but it’s still a good resource to check out.
VALLE DE GUADALUPE HOTELS // WHERE TO STAY
After a long day of wine tasting, you probably won’t care where you pass out, but why not make it some place really cool? Valle de Guadalupe has created such interesting lodging options, from a bubble hotel to suspended eco-lofts.
Alternatively, there are also a lot of great AirBnbs and boutique hotels. Unfortunately because this area is getting more popular by the day, budget lodging options are starting to become few and far between. Here are a few hotel options that come highly recommend:
ARRE LULU BAJA
Arre Lulu Baja is a centrally located remodeled airstream in Valle de Guadalupe and it’s hands down the cutest lodging option for a weekend of wine tasting in the valley. Complete with a large patio, soaking tub, barbecue grill and excellent views, Arre Lulu Baja is my favorite place to stay in Valle de Guadalupe.
QUNITA MARIA EN LA RUTA DEL VINO
Quinta Maria en la Ruta del Vino is a bed and breakfast in the heart of the valley. It offers mountain views, free breakfast and vibrant, authentic Mexican decor.
HOTEL BOUTIQUE VALENTINO
Located in a beautiful setting, Boutique Valentino is a boutique hotel located 1 mile from Adobe Guadalupe Winery. The cabin style rooms are elevated as to not disrupt the landscape and the hotel also offers a common area kitchen for those who want to cook their own meals.
VALLE DE GUADALUPE WINERIES
There are over 120 different wineries in Valle de Guadalupe and one of my favorite things about this region is just how different each winery is. They all have their own personality, from traditionally beautiful to quirky & trendy.
The oldest and most popular winery is Monte Xanic, which has been producing wine in Baja for over 20 years. They’ve won over 250 awards so if you’re looking to taste good wine, you might want to start here.
Some highlighted ones are Vena Cava, a uniquely designed winery made out of recycled boats, Finca La Carodilla, the first certified organic winery in the Valle (with the prettiest patio), and Hacienda La Lomita, who I felt had the best tasting wines. The winemaker at Hacienda La Lomita and Finca La Carodilla worked in Napa for 17 years as head winemaker of red wines for Robert Mondavi.
We also visited Las Nubes and Adobe Guadalupe which were both nice but with so many other great options out there, they weren’t as memorable.
Cuatro Cuatros is a 30 minute drive away, but it was one of my favorite finds from my time in Valle de Guadalupe, and I had to include it in this roundup.
If you have time, try and visit this cliffside bar during sunset for sweeping views of the Baja coastline.
HOW TO GET TO VALLE DE GUADALUPE
Valle de Guadalupe is located just 20km (12 miles) North of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. Most foreigners visiting Mexico’s wine region will either be coming from San Diego, or via cruise ship that docks at the port in Ensenada.
SAN DIEGO TO VALLE DE GUADALUPE
The quickest way to get to Valle De Guadalupe from San Diego is to drive. If you are new to driving in Mexico, it’s not as intimidating as it may seem, especially after you exit the hecticness of Tijuana.
Even though it takes about 15 minutes longer, I prefer to take the Mexico 1 freeway because it follows the coast, and you can stop in Rosarito or Puerto Nuevo for lunch. See above for my restaurant recommendations