We love vacationing Mexico because it’s nearby, a great value, and always a great time. One of our favorite Mexico getaways is Valle de Guadalupe – wine country just south of the border, not far from the beach. The area has been growing in popularity and is a great alternative to California wine country, since it has its own totally unique vibe. I first saw Valle de Guadalupe featured in Afar travel magazine over 6 years ago and after reading about it, I knew I had to go. We went twice last year and I’m already planning a trip back. We love the laid back vibe and the variety of wineries, plus there are some seriously amazing restaurants. Because it’s Mexico and the area is still somewhat undiscovered, the prices are incredibly reasonable. You can get some five star meals for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay in the U.S.
Except for a few main roads, we’re talking mostly little dirt roads with minimal signage, with a lovely mixture of rustic roadside markets and food stands with a handful of super chic and modern locales. I don’t think it’s fair to call it the “new Napa” (a description I’ve seen in travel articles) because it’s still so undeveloped and rough around the edges (which is part of the charm). I love that it’s so diverse and unpretentious, even though there are plenty of fine dining options, cool little hotels, and beautiful wineries.
For anyone living in Southern California, it’s really close and pretty easy to get there. From downtown San Diego, it’s only about a 35 minute drive to the Tijuana border, and once you cross the border it’s about 1.5 hours to the Valle de Guadalupe, which is just inland from Ensenada, BC. If you’re comfortable driving in Mexico, you can just drive yourself, or you can go our route of hiring a driver. We hire a driver who picks us up on the Mexico side of the border (we just walk across and meet him in a designated spot), drives us down to Valle de Guadalupe, and then drives us to all of the wineries and restaurants while we’re there. We’ve always gone with a group of friends, so we’ve just found this to be easiest. Plus, the roads aren’t very well marked, so it’s nice to have someone drive who’s familiar with the area.
We’ve stayed at Rocas del Valle both times that we’ve gone, but there are a lot of really cute little hotels and Airbnbs in the area, so we’ll probably try a different spot next time. Most of the hotels in the area are really small and are “cabin style” with free-standing guest rooms, like your own tiny house (rather than one big building housing all of the rooms). I love the cabin style because it gives you more privacy and most often means that you’ll have your own deck or outdoor space.
We still have a lot of exploring to do, but here are some of our favorite spots so far:
Vena Cava – Unique, hip winery with good wines and a great outdoor bar and food truck.
Lechuza Vinyard – Adorable family-run operation with the best wines we’ve had in the valley. Make a reservation.
Finca la Carrodilla – Organic wines with a super peaceful rooftop garden tasting area.
Decantos Vinicola – Beautiful tasing room and grounds with gorgeous views.
Finca Altozano – Open air restaurant with amazing food and tranquil views. We like to go here for lunch, as there are lots of great wineries nearby, so it makes the perfect mid-day stop between wine tastings. Make a reservation.
Deckmans – Casual, rustic outdoor spot with 5 star food. We get the chef’s tasting menu and it’s fantastic. If we’re really hungry we also share the ribeye – SO good. Make a reservation well in advance.
Fauna – Chic restaurant on the beautiful Bruma property. We did the 5 course chef’s tasting menu and it was excellent.
Agua de Vid – A beautiful, modern property on an unassuming dirt road. Great food and ambiance.
Cuatro Cuatros – Perched above the coast, just outside of the valley, this spot has the most incredible views and is the place to be for sunset.