Mexico Travel Guide › Best Baja Wineries
Updated: September 21, 2020
Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe – Tips & Advice
Where is Valle de Guadalupe?
Valle de Guadalupe is a compact wine-growing region lying just inland from the Pacific Ocean, in the northern Mexican state of Baja California – 40 km northeast of Ensenada and 70 km (43 miles) south of the US-Mexican border. The villages of San Antonio de las Minas in the southwest and Francisco Zarco and El Porvenir in the northeast are the main settlements in the valley.
When To Visit Valle de Guadalupe
Wineries are usually open year-round for visits, but the busiest period for Guadalupe is during the Fiestas de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest Festival), late July through August when the grapes are picked and crushed. However, the valley is very hot at this time – climate-wise it’s more comfortable (and less busy) to visit in the Fall or Spring. The best time is late March to early May when the valley is bursting with flowers and the vines are beginning to bloom.
How to visit Valle de Guadalupe
The most convenient way to visit Valle de Guadalupe is with your own vehicle (assuming you have a designated driver). Plenty of Americans and Canadians take their own cars, crossing the border in Tijuana or Tecate. From Ensenada, Hwy-3 (dubbed “La Ruta del Vino”) cuts inland into the valley; most of the wineries are located on dirt roads that branch off this highway (and most are well signposted). It’s also possible to rent a car in Tijuana or Ensenada (taking a rental car across the US border can be complicated/expensive).
In addition, a service dubbed “uberVALLE” offers day-long, round-trip Uber rides to the Valle de Guadalupe from Ensenada – just select “valleX” in the Uber app (the driver will wait at the various vineyards for you).
Guided tours in Valle de Guadalupe
Numerous guided tours offer a no-hassle, convenient way to visit Valle de Guadalupe’s wineries – tours depart Rosarito, Ensenada, Tijuana, and even across the border in San Diego. Our favorites include Baja Viajes, Baja Wine Tours, and the fun, bespoke tours at Valley Girl Wine Tours.
Do I need to speak Spanish in Valle de Guadalupe?
It’s always a good idea to know a little Spanish when visiting the wineries, though there are English-speakers at almost every vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe.
How much do wineries charge in Valle de Guadalupe?
Most wineries charge for tastings, but not always for tours – costs vary widely, from as low as 50 pesos to 600 pesos, with an average of around 200 pesos for a tasting of five wines. Though you can show up at the major wineries without a reservation, it is best to call before visiting.
Where should I stay in Valle de Guadalupe?
Our favorite spots to stay in Valle de Guadalupe include the Adobe Guadalupe, a charming six-room B&B, and stylish La Villa del Valle.
Restaurants in Valle de Guadalupe
Our top pick for a gourmet Baja Med meal in Valle de Guadalupe is Laja, helmed by Chef Rafael Magaña Tinoco.
Safety in Valle de Guadalupe
The Valle de Guadalupe is one of the safest parts of Mexico, though care should be taken driving through the border cities of Tijuana and Tecate.
TIP – Get oriented at a couple of small but worthy museums in Valle de Guadalupe
The sleek Museo de la Vid y el Vino (just outside Francisco Zarco) introduces the history of wine-making in the region, while the Museo Comunitario Ruso in Francisco Zarco pays tribute to the valley’s Russian pioneers, settlers who came here in the early 1900s.
The 15 Best Wines and Wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe
Their winery is one of the most atmospheric in the valley, with a Spanish Mission-style tasting room complete with bell tower and adobe arches. It’s also possible to stay in the charming B&B on site and have dinner at the restaurant.
Best Wine – Gabriel – This Bordeaux-style red (blend, with 55 percent Merlot), with a dry and fruity taste was created by Adobe Guadalupe owner Tru Miller with winemaker Daniel Lonnberg.
Location – Parcela A-1 S/N, Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings daily 10am–5pm (reservation recommended); 250–300 pesos
Where to Stay – Agua de Vida
2. Monte Xanic
To visit the elegant Monte Xanic winery you must make advance reservations – guards will only open the gate once they’ve checked you have one. Inside you’ll find a tranquil man-made lake, breezy covered patio, and cozy tasting room.
Best Wine – Gran Ricardo – The connoisseurs choice for Bordeaux-style reds (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot) – pricey but worth it.
Location – Francisco Zarco S/N, Col, 22750 Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings and tours daily 10am–5pm (reservations required); 250–300 pesos
Where to Stay – Casa Pan y Vino
3. L. A. Cetto
L. A. Cetto is one of the oldest producers in the valley, with roots that go back to 1928; it’s now the biggest producer of table wines in Mexico (also noted for Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel). The vineyard features a spacious tasting room with rustic wood ceiling, tiled floor and floor-to-ceiling racks of bottles of wine, but gets very busy at the weekends.
Best Wine – ‘Reserva Privada’ Nebbiolo – Rich, barrel-aged red wine, similar to Italy’s Barolo.
Location – Carretera Tecate–El Sauzal Km 73.5, Valle de Guadalupe 22750
Details – Tastings daily 9am–5pm; 50 pesos (100 pesos for reserves)
Where to Stay – Encuentro Guadalupe
French-born d’Acosta is generally credited with the renaissance of Mexican wine since the late 1990s. The vineyard name comes from the old stone building (Casa de Piedra is “Stone House”) in which the wine is now made – tasting takes place up the hill in a modest adobe building, with superb views of the vineyards below.
Best Wine – Vino de Piedra – The signature red wine (Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon blend) from famed winemaker Hugo d’Acosta, aged 13 months in French and American oak barrels.
Location – Carretera Tecate–Ensenada Km 93.5, San Antonio de las Minas, Ensenada, Baja California 22755
Details – Tastings by appointment only (usually Sat & Sun 11am–6pm); Free
Where to Stay – Posada San Antonio
The all-white winery building makes a stunning contrast to the arid surroundings, looming above the vineyards like a giant fortress. The tasting room features tables made of old oak barrels.
Best Wine – Gran Vino Tinto – Very intense, ruby-red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend), produced at Château Camou in the Cañada del Trigo, a canyon in the northwest of the valley.
Location – Domicilio Conocido s/n, 22785 Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings daily 11am–4pm (reservations required at least 15 days in advance); US$12–30 (258–646 pesos)
Where to Stay – Casa Emiliana
The only Russian family-owned vineyard still open to the public – Bibayoff was established in 1906 by Russian emigres, and there’s an interesting history museum on-site.
Best Wine – Zinfandel – An old vine Zinfandel that is a bit like a Spanish Rioja.
Location – Rancho Toros Pinto, Ensenada
Details – Tours and wine tasting by appointment, Tues–Sun 11am–5:30pm; 100 pesos
Where to Stay – El Cielo Winery and Resort
Paoloni’s vines are all from Italian rootstock. His tasting room is sleek and contemporary, with two levels, floor-to-ceiling glass and a veranda.
Best Wine – Nebbiolo de Guadalupe – Signature 100 percent Nebbiolo (aged 15 months in French oak), made by Italian-born winemaker Paolo Paoloni (the wines are sold under the “Paoloni” label in the US).
Location – Parcela 26-1 s/n Ejido El Porvenir Km 9, Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings daily 11am to 5pm (reservations recommended); 200–450 pesos
Where to Stay – Villa Toros Pintos
Owned by Fernando Perez-Castro, the winery itself features a rustic Spanish Mission style, with a tasting room on the second level, most notable for its stunning murals by Mexican artist Jorge Tellaeche. Be sure to take a tour after the tasting to see more of his murals in the production area (he also designed the hip labels on the wine). Dine at the TrasLomita Restaurant on-site.
Best Wine – Tinto de la Hacienda & Pagano – Two much sought after wines recommended from Lomita; the Tinto de la Hacienda (a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah, aged 10 months in second use French oak) is one of the best bargains in the valley, while the Pagano (100 percent Grenache) is a more full-bodied wine. It’s one of the few Mexican wines served at the celebrated French Laundry restaurant in California.
Location – Fracc. 3, Lote 13, Camino Vecinal Parcela 71, San Marcos, Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings Wed & Thurs 11am–4pm, Fri–Sun 11am–6pm; US$12–21 (258–452 pesos)
Where to Stay – Entrevalle Hotel Boutique
Winemaker and owner Ernesto Rochas’s tasting room stands like a large open-sided barn in the lee of a hill, furnished with wooden tables and chairs providing visitors with an expansive view.
Best Wine – Mezcla Bordalesa Gran Reserva – Highly prized blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85 percent), Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, aged 28 months in French oak, from winemaker and owner Ernesto Rocha.
Location – Carretera Tecate-Ensenada 87.5 San Antonio de las Minas, Tecate
Details – Tastings Fri noon–6pm, Sat & Sun 11am–6pm; 250–300 pesos
Where to Stay – Casa Mayoral
The main vineyard actually lies south of the valley and Ensenada, but they operate a tasting room (“cava”) in San Antonio de las Minas (at the start of the Valle de Guadalupe).
Best Wine – Único – Luscious Cabernet Sauvignon (60 percent) and Merlot (40 percent) blend from Baja’s oldest existing winery, with roots in 1791 (commercial production began in 1888).
Location – (Cava San Antonio de las Minas); Carretera Federal No. 3, Ensenada–Tecate Km 94.7
Details – Tastings daily 10am–5pm (reservations recommended); 200 pesos
Where to Stay – En’kanto
11. Barón Balch’é
“Balch’é” means “sacred drink” in Mayan. Try and book a meal at on-site Tahal, an open-sided, breezy restaurant with stellar views across the surrounding desert and mountains.
Best Wine – Balché Uno Premium – This intense 100 percent Grenache (aged in French oak for 36 month) is one of our all-time favorites.
Location – Juanita Beltran s/n, Ejido El Porvenir, 22755 Ensenada
Details – Tastings daily 11am–7pm; 140–330 pesos
Where to Stay – Terra del Valle Bed & Breakfast
Helmed by mathematician Alvaro Alvarez-Parrilla, AlXimia is an eco-friendly winery that looks like a giant flying saucer – it’s a fun place to visit. Inside the giant dome, there are three floors where just about the whole process of wine-making takes place, from huge stainless steel fermenting drums to the French oak barrels in the underground “cava”.
Best Wine – Magma – Fabulous, complex blend of Carignan (Cariñena; two thirds) and Grenache (Garnacha; one third), aged 24 months in French oak barrels – it’s a bit like wines from the Spanish Priorat region.
Location – Camino Vecinal al Tigre Km 3 (enseguida rancho El Parral), Valle de Guadalupe 22766
Details – Tastings daily 11am–5pm; 250 pesos
Where to Stay – Rancho el Parral
13. Viña de Frannes
A boutique winery established by Ernesto Álvarez Morphy Camou, the founder of Château Camou (which is next door). The famed Bordeaux-based winemaker Michel Rolland acts as a consultant. Viña de Frannes winery is a little off the beaten path, but you’ll likely have the place to yourself. The tasting room is a real highlight of the valley, a raised, minimalist-style wood and glass cube.
Best Wine – Pater – Limited production Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 18 months in French oak.
Location – Camino Vecinal al Rancho Cañada del Trigo, 22750 Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings Wed– Sun 10am–5pm (call ahead); 130–240 pesos
Where to Stay – OJO AZUL RESORT
14. Corona del Valle
Helmed by Hector Corona and family, Corona del Valle is a rustic chic winery – liberally decorated with distressed wood, antiques and recyclable items – known as the most family-friendly in the valley, with several play areas for kids. There’s also an excellent restaurant on-site (with kids menu) specializing in Baja Med cuisine.
Best Wine – Tempranillo/Nebbiolo – This prize-winning blend of Tempranillo (60 percent) and Nebbiolo (40 percent), aged for 12 months in French oak, is another favorite of California’s French Laundry.
Location – Carretera Tecate-Ensenada Km 89, 22760 Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings summer daily 1–9pm, winter 11am–7pm; 100–250 pesos
Where to Stay – Contemplacion
15. Vena Cava
Founded by Phil and Eileen Gregory, Vena Cava’s premises are as much an attraction as the wine. Designed by architect Alejandro D’Acosta, they are built from reclaimed fishing boats and wood, and recycled bottles and tires, with a large outdoor patio. Don’t miss the celebrated food truck here dubbed “Troika,” for tacos, tostadas, churros, and fresh oysters.
Best Wine – Preventa Big Blend – Another one of our absolute favorites, a dark and smoky blend of five different grapes; Syrah (25 percent), Cabernet Sauvignon (25 percent), Petite Syrah (19 percent), Zinfandel (17 percent) and Grenache (14 percent), aged 13 months in French and American oak.
Location – Rancho San Marcos, Toros Pintos s/n, Ejido Francisco Zarco, Valle de Guadalupe
Details – Tastings Thurs–Tues 11am–5pm (reservations required); 150–230 pesos
Where to Stay – Santulan
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