When you think of Mexico and traditional beverages, you probably picture shots of tequila or margaritas sipped around a swim-up bar at a luxury resort, but the country is quickly becoming known for its outstanding wine. Baja’s wine country is particularly notable, with picturesque vineyards and wineries tucked into the through the northern Baja countryside, producing grapes reminiscent of Old Tuscany. Guadalupe Valley is one of the few places on Earth with the type of conditions needed for growing premium wine grapes, and it’s here that you’ll find many of the country’s top wine producers.
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El Cielo almost seems as if it’s a wine-focused theme park. A winery and a resort, if you decide to stay it offers pickup service from Tijuana’s airport. Surrounded by mountains, vineyards and olive trees, accommodation is in large villas that include a patio or balcony facing a lake. Guests can also take the property’s wine trolley tour through the vineyards, which offers fascinating information about Baja California vine cultivation and wine-making, which was established here by Russian immigrants in the early 19th-century. The culinary experience is exceptional and all about artistically prepared Baja Mediterranean cuisine paired with a constant flow of outstanding wines from the property’s vineyards.
Vena Cava, Ensenada
This highly acclaimed winery is made from reclaimed fishing boats and sits across 70 acres in the Valle de Guadalupe. The property also includes two restaurants and a boutique hotel. Enjoy lounging at the outdoor bar which serves wine and local craft beer and wine overlooking the valley, and dining on Mexican gastropub fare at TROIKA. More wine tasting experiences can be had in the boat-hull roofed tasting room, and just a hundred yards to the south is Corazon de Tierra for fine dining.
Casa de Piedra
This small production winery that focuses on boutique wines offers a delicious and informative tasting experience, with its most popular line the Espuma de Piedra, sparkling wines that are produced in the traditional champenoise method. It also offers acclaimed red wines, Constraste and Vino de Piedra. If you want to learn more about Mexican wines and their history, this is one of the best places to do just that with its highly knowledgeable, friendly staff. Casa de Piedra’s founder Hugo d’Acosta is important in Mexican winemaking, the man behind the summer camp for small grape producers looking to become winemakers.
Located on the Wine Route, Xecue, a Kiliwa word that means ” love” and represents the paths union for the love of wine, was founded by a couple of engineers motivated by their love of the land and its products. Luis has a deep knowledge of the land and honors the natives, noting that the grapes are like his “children” and he hopes that they “all find good homes.” Wine lovers can taste the results of their efforts and enjoy a tour to learn more about the products and how they’re made.
Finca la Carrodilla
Finca la Carrodilla offers a laid-back vibe and a beautiful setting for tastings. The only winery in the region using certified organic grapes, its Shirazes and Cabs are in high demand and can be sipped in the property’s leafy rooftop garden. Enjoy no-pressure tastes that are all self-guided. They’ll pour you a glass and you can decide if you’d like to buy a bottle and relax in the garden for a while. While tours aren’t advertised they can be requested to learn more about the organic winemaking process.
Decantos Vinicola offers the chance to sip regional wine while gazing at 50 acres of the beautiful Guadalupe Valley. A young family-run winery, the majority of its wines are from the 2014 harvest and are known for encompassing the unique flavors of the region. Noted for its modern, minimalist architecture and groundbreaking techniques, Decantos uses gravity instead of mechanical decanting to transfer wine from tank to barrel, helping to maintain the integrity of the wines’ flavor, aroma and color. Said to set the standard for others to come, ask for Alonso or Alejandro to explain the philosophy behind their wine project.
The family-owned Bodegas Magoni made only wines for private consumption until opening to the public in 2013. Today, it’s working on 70 experimental varieties. It has a fun tasting room and a great restaurant, but with shady mature trees and sweeping valley vistas, you may want to enjoy a picnic on the grounds after picking up a bottle of the manaz, a white wine named after one of the areas the grapes are grown in the valley. You can also buy house-made olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Lechuza offers a picturesque space that includes a vineyard and garden with a seating area for enjoying wines with a view along with a small shop selling boutique items. The tasting option includes its entire line of five wines a Chardonnay, a rosé, a red blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Nebbiolo, that can be enjoyed with various snacks like the cheese board made up of delicious local cheeses. The Nebbiolo and the Cabernet Sauvignon with 24 months of aging in barrels behind them are the favorites.
Vina de Frannes
The vineyards at Vina de Frannes were first planted in the 1930s by the President of Mexico to make brandy. The winery you see today was planted in 1985 and includes 25 hectares and six varieties of grapes that surround the wood and glass facilities. Founded by world-renowned winemaker Ernesto Álvarez Morphy Camou, with some help from French enologist Michel Rolland, it offers a wonderful natural setting that can be enjoyed while sipping on the patio. Its Restaurante Campestre serves mouthwatering regional dishes to go with that fine wine.
Aliximia comes from the word “Alquimia” alchemy in Spanish, an ideal name for a winery whose family’s background is in science and math. Álvaro Álvarez, who has a Ph.D. in math, is the winemaker behind it and his father is an astronomer. The family built a unique three-story round winery that looks like a flying saucer, with every detail of the building scientifically designed to take advantage of nature, from its rain-collecting rooftop to the adobe walls that maintain temperature and humidity. The most reputable wines include the MAGMA 2012, a carignan/grenache premium wine that won the Double Gold Medal at the Toast of the Coast 2016 wine competition.