Since writing the 2014 edition of my guide to Valle de Guadalupe, I've been contacted many times asking for my personal recommendations on the region. Email inquiries typically go something like this:
Do you feel safe? Yes, 100% absolutely. At first, I would only travel down there with my husband and other guy friends. Now, I frequently take girls-only trips so we don't have to deal with the guys slowing us down.
What's it like? My favorite way to describe Valle de Guadalupe is -- "think: Tuscany, with Tequila" or "Where else in the world can you enjoy merlot, menudo AND mezcal, all in the same day?!" :) All jokes aside, it's hard to explain the magic of this place, and I think that's precisely what makes it so special. If you're more of a visual person, take a few minutes and watch this amazing video by the VagaBrothers.
Why should I go? For my ocean and surf-loving amigos, it takes a lot to pry them away from the beach for too long, so I remind them that you can stay at the beach, get in a morning surf sesh, go wine tasting all day (it's only a 45 minute drive) and still fall asleep to the waves. Also, it's helpful to remember that all the best wine-growing regions in the world are located near the ocean. Think Napa, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Tuscany, etc. The fact that we have an award-winning one in our very own southern California backyard is worth a visit. Over the last year, I've taken over 50 people to Valle de Guadalupe for their very first time and not one of them has regretted it. In fact, I often get sent photos of them returning a few weeks later, taking a group of newbies on their own. #soproud
And lastly, my favorite question of all . . . "Hey Mandy! I want to go to that Mexico wine country place you're always going to. What should I eat/see/do and oh yea, where should I stay?"
WHERE TO STAY
Valle de Guadalupe is growing and expanding its offerings at an astronomical pace. Whereas a few years ago, there were only a handful of small, boutique-style hotels that booked up weeks in advance, now a variety of options and price-points are readily available to visitors.
A few of my classic favorites that have stood the test of time are:
listed in order of least to most expensive
- Hotel Boutique: a great kid/family-friendly option, with a delicious restaurant called Fuego on-site
- Adobe Guadalupe: perfect for a romantic getaway; horse lovers will adore taking a ride on their gorgeous Aztecas
- Encuentro Guadalupe: ideal for the traveler who appreciates eco-minimalist architecture and refined luxury
My current *new* favorite places to stay:
- Glamping: a collection of 1960s airstreams located near Hacienda La Lomita vineyard
- Terra del Valle: an adorable bed and breakfast, next to Baron Balche; day spa nearby!
- Rancho las Orquideas: perfectly designed spacious cabins with the nicest hosts
- Finca la Divina: coming soon! San Diego Magazine was the first to announce the highly anticipated boutique hotel by renowned Valle chef, Javier Plascencia, founder of Little Italy's newest hot-spot, Bracero Cocina. This 3 bedroom retreat-style getaway will have on-site wine tasting, a heated pool and jacuzzi and option to have your meals delivered from his nearby famous restaurant, Finca Altozano. I can't wait to stay here! Rumor has it, reservations will open next week.
Here is a typical one-day itinerary I put together for my first-time Valle visitors:
- Hire a private driver: if you are a couple who can splurge a little, or going with a group, definitely splurge on a driver for the day, you can relax completely and will be so happy you did!
- First stop: wine tasting at Montefiori
- Next wine tasting: Finca la Carrodilla, pictured above, doing yoga on their wine barrels :)
- Lunch at Traslomita, pictured below, my birthday lunch was heavenly!
- Private Tasting at Trevista Vinyeards, the owners Hilda and Jim are dear friends of mine and the best hosts you'll ever meet! If you're lucky he'll let you take his cherished tractor for a joy ride (pictured below)
- Sunset cocktails at Encuentro Guadalupe, I recommend something with mezcal at this point! Encuentro has the best view in all of the Valle, and a helicopter for amazing sky tours. It literally took my breath away.
- Dinner at Deckman's en el Mogor, the 6 course pre-fixe chef's choice is a guaranteed culinary journey!
- Still thirsty? Nightcap at La Gotera. It's a secret local spot, ask around :)
Until next time, Valle de Guadalupe!
Thanks to Fernando Gaxiola from Baja Wine + Food for being my Mexico mentor and to the Valle de Guadalupe blog for being my constant source of up-to-date info and happenings.
Feel free to contact me if you want a help with a personalized itinerary or have any questions!
For more on my BAJA MEXICO adventures, check out these past posts --