UNITED STATES.- Baja California and its wines continue to give visitors from around the world something to talk about, the latest chatter coming from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, which named the state as one of the 10 best destinations in the world for wine lovers, alongside the Aegean Islands in Greece, Mendoza in Argentina and Baden, Germany.
It is still surprising to see the reactions of media outlets and the general public when they discover that, not only does Mexico produce wine, mostly in a single region called the Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley), but that it is actually of very good quality, gaining notice by itself each time more and more people come and have a sip.
Going from the U.S. to the Valle de Guadalupe is a short travel (relatively speaking, less than two hours' distance near Ensenada, Baja California.
The Baja wine industry has flourished impressively during these last few years, achieving a relevance near that of tequila in some sectors, adding an unforgettable experience to any who would venture out and visit the vineyards in "El Valle".
"Wine Enthusiast Magazine" has the following recommendations for enjoying a visit to the Valle de Guadalupe:
There is plenty of fine, organic, innovative and exciting dinning in Valle de Guadalupe, but why not visit one of the best restaurants in Latin America while you're there? "Corazón de Tierra" from Chef Diego Hernández, which was also ranked as one of the "Best of Baja" in SanDiegoRed.com. It has some of the most authentic and delicious"Baja-Med" cuisine that distinguishes the region.
"Deckman’s at El Mogor" from American chef Drew Deckman is another open-air option, but is only opened between the months of July and October. It has first rate Mexican cuisine matched, usually, with "Agua Mala" craft-beer (a brewery who gave us the latest beer of the week, "Sirena", by the way).
But, if you are looking for a more classic touch, "Laja" is where you should go then. "Laja" is a pioneering restaurant that opened its doors in 2001, and where Chef Jair Téllez magnificently uses local Baja ingredients like no one else can.
LodgingLa Villa del Valle" is a small B&B place with six rooms, very comfortable and offers exquisite breakfasts.
There's also "Encuentro Guadalupe Antiresort", an 20 room eco-hotel with a very peculiar design, situated on the hills of the Valle, providing a unique experience in Baja's wine route. "Hotel Boutique" is a more traditional option with 20 rooms, gardens and visits to the vineyards.
Looking to splurge a bit on where you stay over night? Try "El Cielo".
The main reason you're going to the Guadalupe valley, wine. Wine Enthusiast Magazine recommends a trip down there any time of the year, but it is important to call your preferred vineyard to check times or if there are guided tours, since not all of them are opened to the public all the time.
They recommend visiting the Alximia vineyards and taste their "Gaia" (Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah), "Alma" (Tempranillo and Zinfandel) and "Helios" (Grenache blanc de noirs) wines.
Other wineries on their list includes Hacienda La Lomita, with their own tasting room, opened Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 4:00 p.m. Viñas de Garza is another, having recommended wines like "Colina Norte" (Tempranillo, Carignan and Grenache) and "Amado IV" (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Zinfandel), but also is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and wildlife.
If you decide to visit the city and port of Ensenada itself, don't forget to try"La Guerrerense", which is considered to have some of the best quality street food in the world, at least, according to Anthony Bourdain, who fell in love with the tostadas from this little establishment.