Growing in popularity among Californians and international celebrities is a charming valley just two hours south of San Diego and a short drive north of Ensenada, Mexico - a northern Baja California seaport town.
Valle de Guadalupe, or in English: Guadalupe Valley, offers wine tastings, high-end restaurants and hotels, local eats, and a hybrid of old mission and modern architecture overlooking rolling hills and endless rows of vineyards.
To make the most of a getaway weekend in Valle de Guadalupe, pack a layered wardrobe, dirt road-friendly footwear, a hearty appetite, and lots of water (for post-wine hydration, of course).
When you arrive and realize this isn't Cabo (cue singsong Laguna Beach voice) but the perfect spot for R + R, grab your boo thang or bestie and decide which one of these Valle gems you'll hit up first.
Arrive on Friday: Drive from SoCal to Mexico
Take your car or a rental (make sure they know you are driving to Mexico) for this trip to Guadalupe Valley and map out the directions before you head out.
My tip: use Google Maps and save an offline version of the area in Baja California, Mexico to make sure you don't have any issues once you lose service. If you're about that international roaming life, then skip this step and carry on ...
Update January 2017: This isn't a sponsored announcement, but the benefits are pretty clutch:
Sprint phones now receive free global roaming service to a large number of countries, including Mexico. See how to activate Sprint's free international roaming service here. Okay, carry on.
After an easy crossover into Mexico from California at Tijuana (we didn't even need to show our passports), take a scenic drive along the coast until you begin to approach signs for Ensenada.
Along the way, stop at a local market or Walmart and purchase snacks or water if you are concerned about misc. spending in the Valley (expect to spend $$-$$$ throughout the weekend). We purchased an oversized jug of water for just 20 pesos (just a little over one dollar) with our "investment".
Lunch in Valle de Guadalupe
Dine at Deckman's for lunch if you get there early and enjoy hearty portions of "farm to table" cuisine. No, literally - you are on a ranch and surrounded by vineyards. Your table is on. the. farm. The kitchen is outside and the produce is locally grown and sourced. You'll spend about $40 per person if you are looking to GET DOWN with la comida.
Valle de Guadalupe Hotels
Check in at your valley hotel after a satisfying lunch and prepare to do absolutely nothing ... #VacationMode. We stayed at Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe which has beautiful grounds, option for horseback riding and biking, and a well designed pool.
I'll tell you the truth though... their rooms, although chic and decorative, were slightly stuffy, with little ventilation and the shower had drainage issues (ankle-deep water within 5 minutes - have you seen my hair? I need more time than that). To be fair: some rooms reported no issues so we might've just had bad luck.
Unfortunately being such a small hotel, there wasn't much room for change or upgrade as the establishment is usually fully booked. Our solution: go wine tasting, hang out by the pool, and stay outside as much as possible.
Another (pricier) option: stay at an Ecuentro Eco-villa / loft nearby.
Birthed with an anti-resort concept, the accommodations blend in with nature and provide individual fire pits and the ultimate private setting. We didn't stay there, but got to visit one of the rooms and pool area ...and then took photos to ignite Instagram envy because #selfvalidation.
Saturday: Affordable Wine Tasting + Food in Valle de Guadalupe
This wine country is loved for a reason! Visit these vineyards for a day full of affordable wine tastings, surreal landscapes, and local crafts.
Montefiore Vineyard was our first stop and an impressionable one at that. With second-story views overlooking the valley, their $5 wine tasting offers two reds and one white for those looking to start off easy. Try their delicious cheese plate if you are hungry!
Visit one of Bodegas de Santo Tomás' newest locations in the heart of the valley for your next wine tasting and don't forget to try their olive oils (we purchased one to bring home). Their tasting room is decorated with a wall of wine bottles, artwork, and pottery and their outdoor seating area might be the best of the day.
3 Mujeres is a must-visit if you want to support a women-owned business and experience THE CUTEST cellar ever. Guarded with a rustic wooden door, the stonewalled cellar whispers Hobbiton, New Zealand as layers of moss, vines, and grass surround the structure. Tastings are $7 but get there early because they close around 4 / 4:30pm.
For midday food, go authentic Mexican style at La Cocina de Doña Esthela and try their lamb special. Delicious homemade tortillas and mouth-watering portions might signal nap time, so beware. Average price per person: $6.
Sunday: Lunch at La Finca Altozano
Spend the day sipping grapes and chowing down at another ranch on your last day. La Finca Altozano is THE spot for visitors and locals. With a robust menu, everyone is definitely there for the food so be prepared to wait for a table. No worries though, there are gigantic barrels, rocking chairs, and fire pits to chill at and another bar to order from while you wait.
Keep an eye out for a few celebrity faces (I saw Diego Luna!) and grab some fresh lemonade if you're in detox mode from the weekend. Average lunch price per person with a group: $25-35.
Invite your friends on a wine tasting getaway and enjoy your weekend in Valle de Guadalupe!
Shout out to our friends Nikki and Jon for the invite, and David and Karen for recommending the itinerary for the weekend. Yes, that means for the first time ever I had a real vacation where I didn't have to research everything!