It would be sinful to just go wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe in Ensenada, Mexico, held fondly in the hearts of many as the Napa Valley of Mexico. One must not just taste wine here, but savor the entire experience. My advice to you would be: linger for as long as you can.
Rustic chic is one way to describe the “Valle”, but the overall vibe here is so much more than that. It’s colorful, local, proud, artistic with a tender touch. You feel at home here, relaxed, as if you were among your oldest and best of friends.
There are plenty of outstanding wineries – 100 to be exact – in the Valle, however, to make it easier on you, I’ve compiled a list of my absolute favorites. If you’re planning a trip to Mexico’s wine country, I highly recommend visiting each and every one of these spots.
1.Casa Frida de Guadalupe
A tribute to Frida, her artwork, life and husband, the provocative artist Diego Rivera, Frida de Guadalupe represents all we’ve known and loved about Frida Kahlo and her tragically beautiful life.
You have the choice of crafting your own wine tasting experience here. Options include renting some of the houses on the land via airbnb and wine tasting all weekend, spending time in the tasting room, having dinner at the Country Steakhouse, visiting the art gallery, or just ordering drinks and meandering around the property. You can view more information here.
Casa Frida’s slogan, “everything begins in art” is this place’s lifeblood and is embodied in all that they do. From vibrant paintings and sculptures to creative lounge areas to unique artwork on wine bottles, art lives and breathes here.
I’d recommend this winery for parties of all ages, but should note that it’s one of the only wineries in this area that stays open late (until 12 a.m.). If you’re looking for a place to visit later in the evening, this is your spot.
There are plenty of cocktails available here as well. I highly recommend doing a wine or tequila tasting and then trying one of their favored cocktails.
2. Finca La Carrodilla
If you’re looking for quality, organic wine Finca La Carrodilla is a must. Winemaker Gustavo González brings over 20 years of wine making experience to this winery, which makes him one of the most renowned winemakers in the American Union. Read more of their story here.
What’s so unique about this winery is that they are eco-friendly and extremely proud of their land. They have so much love and passion for what they do, the animals they care for, and the wine they produce. The owners here have chosen a slower making wine process to ensure they’re being as sustainable as possible. And this can be tasted and greatly appreciated in all of their wine and food.
There’s an orchard on the property too, which allows the owners to produce additional treats like seasonal vegetables, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, and their must-try fruit jam! A cafe completes this commitment to excellence where local fare like dessert, jams, cheese, and coffee can be purchased.
I highly recommend trying their wine Canto de Luna or Moon Song. This is a pretty dry, drinkable wine with a raspberry jam, tobacco, and vanilla nose. Pair that with a cheeseboard and some of the winery’s jam and enjoy the sunset.
Okay, so Deckman’s is technically a restaurant, however, with its world-class reputation, farm to table produce, locally produced wines, and commitment to slow food, it just has to be on this list.
Read their commitment to sustainability and quality here: “Our wine list is based on supporting and voting for small producers, wines that are 100% family operated, giving this valley the sustainable impulse to grow in community. That’s why we constantly rotate our selection of wines, since productions are limited. Remember, everyday you vote with your fork. Choose wisely.” Pretty incredible, right? You can check out more here.
Also, this place is easily one of the most beautifully crafted restaurants I’ve ever seen with an open concept kitchen smack dab in the middle of the farm, a dining room made out of hay barrels, and an open patio complete with twinkle lights and sunflowers that overlook the vineyard.
Here are some of the various awards this place has garnered:
- Gourmet Award By Travel and Leisure – Mejor cocina regional de México 2019
- Culinaria Mexicana 120 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- Todos Santos REVISTA MEJOR RESTAURANTE Baja California 2017 to 2019
- Marco Beteta Guide 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- San Diego Magazine, Best of Baja 2016, 2017, 2018
- 100 Imperdibles México 2017
- Recognition Contest Pairing 2018
There are over 100 wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, which boasts some of the best winemakers in the world! Since the wineries are smaller you can expect higher quality wines that cater to a more refined palette/unique wine drinker. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself to Ensenada before these secret spots get more attention!
Tips for Crossing the Border
- If you’re driving from San Diego to Mexico (I highly recommend this option) and cross at the San Ysidro Border you should note this is the busiest border crossing in the world! Give yourself ample time to get back to San Diego!
- This app can be a helpful resource to determine how long of a wait you have ahead of you at the border: U.S. Government’s app.
- A SENTRI Pass is also an option so you can skip the long lines at the border crossing you choose.
- Here’s a list of items you cannot bring back to the U.S. Please read up on this before your trip.