Valle de Guadalupe is like the crazy uncle of wine regions. You know, the one who shows up drunk to family functions and swears a little too much? It’s a little unpolished and pretty raw, but that’s the whole appeal. Compared to the other wine regions I’ve been to, Valle de Guadalupe feels exciting and new. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of modern and traditional, with innovative ideas and trendy designs, combined with those addicting laid-back Baja vibes.
Of all the trips I took last year, Mexico’s wine country was definitely a top 3 contender. Keep reading for everything you need to know about visiting Valle de Guadalupe; from where to stay, eat and drink, plus tips for visiting and how to get there.
Where to Stay in Valle de Guadalupe
After a long day of wine tasting, you probably won’t care where you pass out, but why not make it some place really cool? Valle de Guadalupe has created such interesting lodging options, from a bubble hotel to suspended eco-lofts. Check out my post HERE to read about 3 of my top unique places to stay in the valley.
Alternatively, there are also a lot of great AirBnbs and boutique hotels.
Unfortunately because this area is getting more popular by the day, budget lodging options are starting to become few and far between.
Valle de Guadalupe Wineries
There are over 120 different wineries in Valle de Guadalupe and one of my favorite things about this region is just how different each winery is. They all have their own personality, from traditionally beautiful to quirky & trendy.
The oldest and most popular winery is Monte Xanic, which has been producing wine in Baja for over 20 years. They’ve won over 250 awards so if you’re looking to taste good wine, you might want to start here.
My personal favorites were Vena Cava, a uniquely designed winery made out of recycled boats, Finca La Carodilla, the first certified organic winery in the Valle (with the prettiest patio), and Hacienda La Lomita, who I felt had the best tasting wines. The winemaker at Hacienda La Lomita and Finca La Carodilla worked in Napa for 17 years as head winemaker of red wines for Robert Mondavi.
For more information and photos of my favorites wineries in Valle De Guadalupe, check out my post HERE
We also visited Las Nubes and Adobe Guadalupe which were both nice but with so many other great options out there, they weren’t that memorable.
Cuatro Cuatros is a 30 minute drive, but it was one of my favorite finds from my time in Valle de Guadalupe so I had to include it in this roundup.
If you have time, visit this cliffside bar during sunset for sweeping views of the Baja coastline.
For more photos and info about Cuatro Cuatros, check out my post HERE
Where to Eat in Valle de Guadalupe
Most of the wineries in Valle de Guadalupe have restaurants and/or food trucks on site, but the lack of local available Mexican food was one of my least favorite things about this wine region. When I’m drunk in Mexico all I want is an elote man within 50 ft of me at all times, and I want tacos. With that said, I did end up finding some amazing local food options off the beaten path:
La Cocina D’Marco
After a few disappointing food stops, we decided to head to the center of town to find a local restaurant with no tourists. La Cocina D’Marco wasn’t fancy (at all) but they whipped up the best shrimp quesadilla we’ve ever had. It was incredible.
Check out their Facebook page for hours
La Cocina de Dona Esthela
When Nick and I were wine tasting on the deck of Hacienda La Lomita we noticed a packed parking lot in the distance. Not being ones to miss out on a party, we made our way over to check things out and stumbled upon the one and only La Cocina de Dona Esthela. Apparently FoodieHub (the worlds’ largest global network of local food experts) named it the Best Breakfast in the World. Yes. The world.
We ate breakfast here on our last morning and it was delicious. We stupidly didn’t try the machaca (which is what they’re famous for) but I had a cactus burrito and Nick said the Huevos Rancheros were the best he’s ever had.
Troika Food Truck
Out of the wineries that we visited, my favorite food came from Troika Food Truck at Vena Cava (read my post about it here). They served a variety of food and they had tacos … and truffle fries.
Food Recommendations Outside of Valle de Guadalupe
While not technically in Valle de Guadalupe, La Guerrenese is a something you should definitely check out if you like seafood. Located in Ensenada (30 minutes away), this street food cart was called the “best street food in the world” by Anthony Bourdain. Go early because they sell out just about every day.
Read my post about La Guerrenese HERE
Puerto Nuevo Lobster
If you eat seafood, I recommend stopping in Puerto Nuevo on your way in or out of Valle de Guadalupe. Puerto Nuevo is a little town famous for their lobster and there are dozens of restaurant options to choose from.
I have countless memories of eating dinner in Puerto Nuevo when I was young. I used to get SO grossed out by the plate of lobster they’d bring my dad and I never tried it.. but I was always curious. So on our way down, Nick and I stopped and ate at Casa de Langosta. The food was so good, the portions were huge (we definitely could have shared) and the price was amazing ($45).
If you’re not too full, grab a homemade, fresh fruit popsicle at the ice cream store across the street.
Tacos el Yaqui
If you visited Puerto Neuvo on your way to Valle de Guadalupe, check out Tacos el Yaqui on your way home. Located in Rosarito, Tacos el Yaqui is a causal outdoor taco shop, famous for their carne asada tacos. Cash only.
Is Valle de Guadalupe Safe?
My dentist is in Tijuana and when I tell people, they literally freak out. I think they picture me in a back-alley getting teeth pulled or something.. when in reality it’s one of the world’s leading holistic dental clinics located in a luxury hotel. Because of the sensationalized, negative attention Mexico has gotten in the media, it does conjure up some scary images for people.
I can only speak from a personal level but I feel safe in Mexico. In fact, I felt much safer in Valle de Guadalupe than I do in Los Angeles (where I live).
As with anywhere you travel: use common sense, stay aware of your surroundings and always listen to your gut. If bar hopping in Ensenada is on your itinerary, keep an eye on your drink and avoid straying too far off the main roads alone, especially at night.
Tips for Visiting Valle de Guadalupe
BRING YOUR PASSPORT You used to not need a passport to cross into Baja California from San Diego but as of recently, it’s now a requirement
PURCHASE MEXICAN AUTO INSURANCE If you’ll be driving to Valle De Guadalupe from the United States, your car insurance will most likely not be valid in Mexico. I recommend purchasing a Mexican Insurance policy, just in case. I used BajaBound.com and it was around $25 USD per day.
If you’re renting a car, double check with the company to make sure you’re allowed to take it into Baja.
DRIVE A SHITTY CAR If you have a flashier, more expensive car consider a renting a low-key option if you’ll be driving in Mexico. Not only will you eliminate the unwanted attention but the roads to the wineries in Valle De Guadalupe require a bit of off-roading down long, bumpy trails.
Our cars definitely needed a little TLC when we got home.
DECIDE ON THE WINERIES YOU WANT TO VISIT IN ADVANCE Most of the wineries are located pretty far off the main road and some are hard to find. It’s not like in Temecula where you can window shop and then pull into the one that looks the prettiest. It’s a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance.
LANGUAGE BARRIERS Everyone at the wineries we visited spoke excellent English. They are used to tourists. Some of the local restaurants didn’t speak much. Everyone was accommodating to our lack of Spanish but as always, learning a few key phrases in the local language can go a long way.
UBERVALLE Since the whole point of visiting Valle de Guadalupe is to drink wine, you’ll probably be looking for way to get around. Uber has a special service called UberVALLE which basically puts you in contact with a driver who will pick you up either in Ensenada or at your hotel and drive you to the different wineries for the day. You can call a regular Uber as well, but I noticed that there were not as many cars on the road so the wait was long at times.
CHECK THE BORDER WAIT TIMES Getting back across the border can take forever (2-4 hours), especially on the weekends. Check this website for current wait times on both pedestrian and car lanes. HERE
LA RUTA APP Our Airbnb host recommended the La Ruta app, which gives you a pretty good map of every winery in Valle de Guadalupe, plus an option to click their profile and learn more. The app is a little glitchy and kind of slow but it’s still a good resource to check out.
MAP OF VALLE DE GUADALUPE WINERIES
How to Get to Valle de Guadalupe
Valle de Guadalupe is located just 20km (12 miles) North of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. Most foreigners visiting Mexico’s wine region will either be coming from San Diego, or via cruise ship that docks at the port in Ensenada.
San Diego to Valle De Guadalupe
The quickest way to get to Valle De Guadalupe from San Diego is to drive. If you are new to driving in Mexico, it’s not as intimidating as it may seem, especially after you exit the hecticness of Tijuana.
Even though it takes about 15 minutes longer, I prefer to take the Mexico 1 freeway because it follows the coast, and you can stop in Rosarito or Puerto Nuevo for lunch. See above for my restaurant recommendations
You’ll see signs as you get closer to Valle de Guadalupe, then you’ll exit and head up and into the valley.
Tip: Download an offline Google map and you’ll be able to use your directions even if you don’t have coverage or service.
If you don’t want to drive or join a tour, you can reach Valle de Guadalupe via the ABC bus which goes from Tijuana to Ensenada. The busses are coach busses with bathrooms, WIFI and air conditioning. A one way ticket costs $185 pesos (under $10 USD) and the journey takes 45 min – 1 hour and busses leave frequently.
Go to their website site for timetables and reservations HERE
Mexican Border to Ensenada
It’s expensive to leave your car overnight in San Ysidro (The US side of the border) so consider taking an Uber or even the trolley, which will drop you off directly in front of the pedestrian crossing.
Once you make your way across the border, the bus terminal (Terminal La Linea) is an easy 10 minute walk. At the terminal, look for the ABC bus to Ensenada. It’s not necessary to purchase tickets in advance.
TERMINAL LA LINEA | Frontera 2528B, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Once you arrive in Ensenada you’ll need to either rent a car or call a taxi/UberVALLE to take you to Valle de Guadalupe.
Ensenada to the Mexican Border
From Valle de Guadalupe, head back to the Ensenada bus station.
ENSENADA BUS STATION |22800, Riveroll 1015, Ensenada, B.C., Mexico
In Tijuana, the bus will drop you off right at the pedestrian crossing to go back to San Diego.
Chances are, if you’re on a Baja California cruise, you’ll find yourself docking in Ensenada. Your cruise ship will probably offer tours to Valle de Guadalupe but I alway recommend cross checking with Google as you can book most tours direct, for cheaper. Also consider hiring a taxi or UberVALLE for the day to take you to the valley and drive you to the different wineries.
There are multiple tour companies that will pick you in San Diego or Ensenada and transport you to Valle de Guadalupe for a full day tasting adventure.
Comment below if you have any other tips or winery recommendations for my next visit to Valle de Guadalupe!