As you travel down the Baja Peninsula and make your way inland to the Valle de Guadalupe wine region, you’ll find an abundance of world-class wineries. And while many of these Valle de Guadalupe wineries offer stellar wine-tasting experiences, only a few have incredible restaurants on site.
These are the best wineries in Valle de Guadalupe also raising the bar for cuisine:
- La Lomita + Lunario
- Finca La Carodilla + Lunario
- Vena Cava Winery + Troika
- Casa de Piedra + Conchas de Piedras
- Mina Penelope + Malva
- Bruma Vinicola + Bruma Wine Garden
- Relieve Vinicola + Mixtura
Why You Should Visit Valle de Guadalupe
Valle de Guadalupe is a wine region located in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, south of Tijuana and east of Ensenada. The name translates to “Guadalupe Valley” in English. If you love wine, and plan vacations around wine and food, Valle de Guadalupe should be on your list.
Unlike any other wine region we’ve visited in the world, Valle de Guadalupe has a booming food scene. In fact, visiting for food might be priority number one, with learning about Mexican wine as a bonus. Restaurants are everywhere, and they could easily compete with top restaurants around the world. There’s a culinary school in Ensenada, so lots of creativity is constantly pouring into the region.
There is no shortage of modern hotels, boutique lodgings or glamping retreats in Valle de Guadalupe. Here, you’ll get the whole package for food wine tourism. While it’s definitely been discovered, it’s still one of the less traveled wine regions of the world.
History of Winemaking in Baja Mexico Wine Country
The history of winemaking in Valle de Guadalupe dates back to the 16th century when the first Spanish missionaries arrived in the area. These early settlers planted vines brought over from Europe in an effort to make wine for religious purposes. However, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that grapevines began to proliferate in the region. There was even a small group of Russian immigrant farmers who were growing vines for brandy production during this time.
The region began to regain its footing in the wine world in the 1990s when a group of Mexican entrepreneurs started planting vines and making wine again. These pioneers helped put Valle de Guadalupe back on the map as a premier wine-producing region. In recent years, the area has seen a boom in both the number of wineries and visitors, and the competition for quality wine is growing rapidly.
How Climate and Soil affect Grape Production
Valle de Guadalupe vineyards are planted on a mix of granite and clay soil. The climate in the region is continental with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean helps moderate temperatures and provides a cooling marine influence. These ideal growing conditions allow for a long growing season that is ideal for ripening grapes.
The heat and bright sun of Valle de Guadalupe’s summers help produce wines with ripe fruit flavors and high alcohol levels. The region is best known for its red wines made from Bordeaux grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, the area also produces excellent white wines made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Best Wineries in Valle de Guadalupe
Until you visit, it’s hard to describe the level of food quality and creativity in Valle de Guadalupe. Perhaps it’s the nearby culinary school in Ensenada constantly pouring in fresh ideas.
Not only are these the best wineries to visit in Valle de Guadalupe, but they are raising the bar with amazing restaurants too. Each winery has their own wine tasting experience, some with food, some without. The restaurants listed are on property or nearby, and offer a separate experience.
You can taste their wine while dining, or choose to do a wine tasting and tour at the winery then dine at the restaurant same day or a different time. Either way, neither the wines nor the restaurants on this list should be missed on any trip to Valle de Guadalupe.
La Lomita + Lunario
La Lomita’s vineyards have some of the oldest vines in the valley. Grapes are grown organically on a blend of granite and clay soil. Wine tours of the facility are worth the time to see how the building was designed to gravity feed pressed juice to the fermentation tanks.
Lomita makes eight wines, producing around 7500 cases of wine in total. Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez crafts premium wines as single varietal and blends for Lomita. One of these is Pagano, a 100% Grenache that is special, both for Grenache and for Mexican wine. It also happened to be our favorite wine of the scouting trip.
At Lomita, you’ll find Lunario, possibly the best restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe. Chef Sheyla Alvarado prepares dishes that are both beautiful and powerfully rooted in regional cuisine. The multi-course menu (6 or 8) offers late lunch or dinner service, and pairings include wine from Lomita and Finca la Carodilla. While the presentation, service, and culinary skill are top notch, Lunario’s ambience is laid back, and an evening well spent.
Finca la Carodilla
Finca la Carodilla is the sister winery to Lomita, and also shares winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez. La Carodilla was the first biodynamic and organic vineyard in Mexico, and produces around 3500 cases per year. The winemaker might be the same, but the wines are not. Here you’ll find Chenin Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and some red blends.
La Carodilla isn’t just a winery, it’s a farm, supplying many of the fresh ingredients used at Lunario (mentioned above). At a wine tasting, you might have some freshly prepared produce or cheese made from the cows on the farm. The setting is beautiful, and a great place to spend an afternoon.
Vena Cava Winery + Troika Food Truck
At Vena Cava, you’ll find yourself tasting wine in an upturned boat, thanks to one of the founders’ love of sailing. This creativity carries through to the wine. For a young winery (f.2015), Vena Cava has experimented plenty, creating some very unique wines for the region, including a Pet Nat and Ambar wine.
Vena Cava produces around 1200 cases of wine per year, sourcing grapes from other nearby wine regions, as well as their own estate. Some of their wines are very low or no intervention, unfiltered, and organic.
A wine tasting and tour is not complete at Vena Cava without a stop at the food truck onsite. Troika sits on a large outdoor patio under a very cool sunshade. The food is delicious and the menu might include ceviche tostadas and oysters to pair with your pet nat. Or try something heartier like pork belly skewers.
Where possible, menu items are made with ingredients from their organic garden, and features Vena Cava wines by the glass or local craft beer, if you’ve had enough wine. Time your wine tasting at Vena Cava to include a meal here – you won’t regret it.
Casa de Piedra + Conchas de Piedras
In Valle de Guadalupe, Casa de Piedra grows Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon on predominantly clay and granite soil. Chardonnay and Tempranillo also come from two of their other vineyards in San Antonio de las Minas and Valle de San Vicente.
Winemaker Hugo d’Acosta is known as a pioneer of winemaking in Mexico, after studying agriculture in France and Italy and later opening winemaking school in Baja California.
You’ll find the winery on top of a hill, with an amazing view. This Baja winery is well known for its Espuma de Piedra, three brut sparkling wines: a Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, and Rosado.
Next door is Conchas de Piedras, a collaboration with Deckman’s, where you can have local oysters or a seafood tasting menu with your sparkling wine. You’ll need a reservation for both a winery tour and the restaurant.
Mina Penelope + Malva
Mina Penelope is a boutique winery, all grapes are grown organically, and everything is done by hand. The husband and wife team behind Mina Penelope craft elegant wines in the style of natural wine from Loire valley in France. Mina Penelope only makes wine from grapes grown on the estate, and bottles roughly 800 cases per year.
Nebbiolo, Sauvignon Blanc, rosé of Montepulciano, a red blend, and an extra brut of Aglianico are some of the wines you’ll find here, and at the restaurant onsite, Malva. Having dined at Malva twice, I can confidently say it’s one of the best restaurants in the valley. The atmosphere is upscale casual and the service impeccable. Get there before sunset – you’ll be perched up above the vines, almost like you’re in a treehouse.
Malva’s menu is constantly changing, with ingredients from the ranch, and most items are cooked over a fire or in the adobe oven. Comfortable dishes like steak or fish of the day are offered with modern presentation, and inventive plates are always in the mix. Try a little of both. Mina Penelope and Malva are raising the bar for food and wine in Valle de Guadalupe.
Bruma Vinicola + Bruma Wine Garden
On the sprawling and majestic property at the northeast end of the valley, sits Bruma – with a hotel, winery, and two notable restaurants (Fauna + Bruma Wine Garden). Bruma Vinicola is the winemaking project onsite, and tastings are available by appointment. The tasting room is a modern marvel adjacent to an enormous, 300 year old dead tree reused as landscape art.
Bruma makes three different rosés, chardonnay, and two red blends. Blanco was the favorite, with mineral and stone fruit flavors in pleasant balance. It’s worth seeing the art and architecture at the tasting room, but tasting wines at their nearby wine garden is even better.
It’s hard to beat the ambience at Bruma Wine Garden. You’ll sit under giant trees surrounded by vineyards, while being served some of the best bites in the valley. The menu changes, but you might find oysters, creative pizzas topped with zucchini flowers and a duck egg or waffles and caviar. Sweet tooths are encouraged here, as is all afternoon leisuring. Taste your way through Bruma’s wine while enjoying this magical space.
Relieve Vinicola + Mixtura
Relieve sits on a beautiful property, with stunning architecture, the trade practiced in the family. The wine is varied, from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay to Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The atmosphere is lively and young, the opposite of a stuffy wine tasting.
Just down the hill from the tasting room is Mixtura, run by another member of the family with culinary prowess. Grab brunch and bubbles there, or watch the sunset with craft cocktail in hand, the DJ adding chill beats into dinner. The menu changes with the seasons and creativity of the team. Fresh wood fired pizzas made in a Roccbox, steak frites, plus steamed crab and clams are some of the greats.
Make Your Own Wine Tasting Experience
If you don’t have enough time to do tastings at every winery and tasting room on the list, you can also taste wine while eating a meal. That’s the beauty of this list! These wineries aren’t just the best Valle de Guadalupe wineries, they’ve got the best food too. So book a brunch, lunch, or dinner, and be prepared for the best wine tasting experience anywhere.
It’s Not Just Cabernet Sauvignon
A lot of Cabernet Sauvignon has been planted in Valle de Guadalupe. Like in Napa Valley, the climate works well for this grape. While Cabernet Sauvignon will always be a popular choice, Valle de Guadalupe has so much more to offer.
When you visit Valle de Guadalupe, you will likely find yourself in the hot sun wanting a refreshing white or rosé. You’ll be pleased to find it in abundance, along with some surprisingly delicious bubbles, as the climate requires.
How to Get to Valle de Guadalupe
If you’re based in Southern California, Baja California can easily be reached by car. Valle de Guadalupe is roughly a 2-hour drive from San Diego. There are two border crossings, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. You must have Mexican insurance on your car to drive it to Mexico. Just be aware that the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro border crossing can be gnarly time wise – especially going north to the US. Don’t let this stop you – many people from San Diego visit Valle de Guadalupe often.
Another option is to fly to Tijuana, rent a car, and drive to Valle de Guadalupe. Sometimes flying into Tijuana is not an option, due to price or lack of flight options. A third and more time consuming option is flying into San Diego, taking a taxi to the border, walking across, renting a car, and driving to Valle de Guadalupe. While I don’t recommend this option, I mention it because it has been done.
Hotels in Valle de Guadalupe
Unless you’re from the area, it requires a bit of journey to get to Valle de Guadalupe. Plus, there’s too much good food to eat. You should settle in for a few days, at least. Here are a handful of options for Valle de Guadalupe hotels:
- Bruma: Knock all the birds out with this stone. Great restaurants, cool rooms, and wine. Careful – you might not leave the property.
- Encuentro: This hotel has cool villas perched on the hillside above the valley.
- AirBnb: there are more glamping and boutique hotels to mention, but most of them are listed on AirBnb.
- Villas at Relieve Vinícola: Beautifully designed villas dot the hillside at Relieve. With Mixtura on your doorstep, you’re set.