Friday, November 30, 2018

Mexico Wine Country: Valle de Guadalupe

The group for our Mexico trip!


This was my second time visiting  this area of Mexico. (If you want to read about my first experience, click here.) I did not plan either of the trips and left the planning in the hands of my friends, and have had a blast both times! We hit up a handful of the same spots I hit up 3+ years ago, and also experienced some new places.

About Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe is located about 2 hours south of San Diego and about 40 minutes northeast of Ensenada, on the Baja peninsula. It is the wine country of Mexico, a lot of times compared to Napa (but for 1/2 the price of going to Napa I feel). There are over 150 wineries in this area of Mexico! It seems that this area has been producing wine for over 100 years, but has grown more popular in recent years. (All this info and more can be found here.)

Here is my personal experience visiting Valle de Guadalupe...

Transportation

The first time I went down, we drove from San Diego, crossed at Tecate and took 3 personal cars across the border. Our friends who drove their cars did purchase extra car insurance just in case and that can be done through a third party car insurance group, or call your own car insurance to see if they offer any kind of insurance driving into Mexico.

This time around our group decided to walk across the border through Tijuana. We got dropped off at the border, all of us making sure we had our passports, and just walked across. On the other side we hired a driver to pick us up and take us to our house rental in Ensenada.

Both times we did hire a van and a driver to cart the group around wine country. On my first trip, we only hired a driver for one day. This trip we did all 4 days so that we didn't have to worry about transportation, drinking while driving, and figuring out directions. The vans we have gotten seat about 9 people and the driver is local to the area, so they are a great resource if you are looking for anything in particular nearby, they know their way around.

Here is a link to one of the van company's we used.

We paid around $200/day this trip for transportation.

You can cross at Tijuana or Tecate to get to Valle de Guadalupe.

Where we Stayed

Both times we stayed in large houses since it has always been a large group of people I have gone with. The first time we stayed in a house on the outskirts of Valle de Guadalupe and this time we stayed in Ensenada and did the 30-40 minute drive into the valley. Both places I think were booked off Airbnb or VRBO.

Here is the link to the place we stayed at in Ensenada. Great spot that sleeps up to 13 people!

Places to Eat

After visiting these restaurant on both trips, I would recommend visiting these spots! But, of course, there are many other restaurants out there that are just as wonderful.

Boules in Ensenada, Mexico

Both times the service has been great and the food has been amazing. We did family style both times and left stuffed. This time around, for 7 people, we ordered ceviche, a dozen raw oysters, duck risotto, steak & fries, sashimi, and 2 bottles of wine, and our bill with tip came out to around $170. That's less than $25/person for seafood, steak, and wine! That's a steal in my books.

Dinner at Boules
I can't remember the price but I think it was under $20 for this ribeye and fries

La Esperanza BajaMed in Valle de Guadalupe

I have been here twice as well and both times have been great.  They have a display of their aged steaks right when you walk in, and the restaurant itself is a great location surrounded by vineyards. For an 18 day dry-aged steak it was about $25 and delicious. I am a fan of their seafood shooters here too.
Sashimi and avocado
18 day dry aged ribeye for $25

Finca Altozano in Valle de Guadalupe

I have been here twice as well and I need to give this place another try. The restaurant is outdoor seating. The first time we visited it was about 100 degrees and we were melting. This time around, it was windy and cold. So I was miserable in different ways. but it is another beautiful venue! The food is good too, but I feel I don't enjoy food as much when my body temperature is off lol. The Brussel sprouts are the best here though! Also, it seemed like the beef brisket was hands down everyone's favorite.

Here are a couple of other restaurants I went to on my first trip that I really enjoyed as well:

Wineries We Visited

Tres Mujeres - this was the smallest winery we visited. We had two tastings of their reds and it was $5/person. Out of all the wineries this was the quietest of them all as well, when we got there, there was no one else there and the tasting happens in a small hut. I thought it was pretty neat but not much going on compared to the other wineries we visited.

Entrance into Tres Mujeres wine tasting room 

Bodegas del Valle (not a winery) - we stopped in here on a whim because we had time to kill. It was a giant space and we ordered a bottle wine and some appetizers. They serve a bunch of the local wines and not just one brand.

 Bodegas impressive wine wall
Great ceviche at Bodegas too!

Bruma - this wine tasting came with a tour of the winery itself and was $16/person. The winery was underground and we got to see some of the behind-the-scenes space. It was also very busy when we went so we felt rushed. Once the tour was over, you exit into their bar. We grabbed drinks here. They have their restaurant, Fauna attached, which looks super fancy. Per my friend Becky, she highly recommends their dessert, the semifreddo. The best she's ever had she says!




Bruma's restaurant Fauna

Las Nubes - Out of all the wineries we visited this trip, this was the only one I had been to before and it was just as great the 2nd time around! They offer several different kinds of tastings from rose and white to all reds. Once you pay, they give you a ring to put on the bottom of your glass to help keep track of which ones you are trying! So many friendly pups at this winery too:)

Vina De Frannes - We rolled into this winery 40 minutes before closing but they were more than happy to serve our group. They sat us in a private room upstairs and we got a bottle of red, a bottle of rose, and some tastings. The woman was very knowledgeable about the wines and even made fun of us since we had mentioned we had been drinking tequila in the car. She just shook her head cuz we were mixing wine and tequila lol.

Decantos Vinicola - When we walked into this place, they originally put us outside, but we got too cold and ended up sitting inside the restaurant. It looks like it's a winery/restaurant. We got  different types of ceviche here to munch on while we sipped some wine. Wine and food were both excellent here too.



Cuatro Cuatros - this was the first place we went to when we got into town. Lauren had wanted to come here for the view, but timing wasn't right and we showed up after dark. So if you can, definitely go when there is daylight out! It's supposed to be a great view! You walk through their vineyards, then you pay $5/each and they bus you to the top of their property. At the top they have a restaurant and bar. We just got drinks here before dinner. Will definitely need to go back to watch sunset next time!
View from Cuatro Cuatros, you can see the fires burning in Baja

This was a super fun trip for Lauren's 30th birthday! All the girls seemed to enjoy themselves, everyone loved the rental house too. Cost wise, it is very affordable to visit too.

Until next time Valle de Guadlalupe!

(If you would like to read my reviews on Yelp for these places, here is a link to them)


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