If you live in Southern California, or if you’re going to be visiting the San Diego area sometime in the near future, I highly recommend you schedule at least a day to go South of the border and visit our Mexican neighbors. If you have several days to visit Baja California, there are so many beautiful, relaxing places you can go. A weekend in Ensenada or Rosarito is always a popular choice for surfers and people who like eating tacos and lounging on the beach, but if you’re looking for something a little different, why not check out the Valle de Guadalupe?
Located only a couple hours South of the border, the Valle de Guadalupe is one of the world’s up-and-coming wine regions, and it won’t disappoint. If you’re feeling adventurous and you have a little more time on your hands, why not drive yourself South of the border (make sure to purchase Mexican auto insurance before you go…you can pick this up near the border) and stay for a couple days? But if you’re short on time, prefer a guided experience, or just don’t want to deal with taking your car across the border, there are a lot of great curated day tours you can take which will give you an excellent taste of what the region has to offer.
Since I work for an amazing company that not only allows me ample time off to travel but that also takes us on some mind-blowingly awesome team building experiences, I was fortunate enough to load into a big, air-conditioned van with my awesome coworkers at the office on a Friday morning, where we were whisked on an incredible adventure to Mexico for the day. Here’s how it went down, where we went, and all other details to give you a taste of what this awesome spot has to offer.
The tour company we went with was Boca Roja Wine Adventures, and they really did do an amazing job showing us a good time in the area for the day. They picked us up at our office in the morning (they will pick you up in the San Diego area and take care of all the border crossing stuff for you). the drive across the border didn’t take much time at all. We did get flagged for inspection on the way over (probably because we were in a big van), but they just opened the doors, took a look, and sent us on our way. It took all of 5 minutes. After we crossed the border, they took us through Tijuana and continued South along the beautiful coastline.
Our first stop was to enjoy some delicious street tacos at a wonderful little taco shop in Rosarito called Tacos El Yaqui. Since I have dietary restrictions (no gluten), I asked them to not include the flour tortilla, so they brought me a corn tortilla instead. The tacos were delicious (and quite large). The atmosphere at the taco shop was very relaxed. It was a beautiful day to be sitting out on the patio, and the place was packed with both tourists and local families enjoying their food.
After we had all had our fill of tacos, we got back into the van and continued on our way to the Valle de Guadalupe. Along the way, we were treated to more incredible views of the coastline as well as the desert. It was a hot day, but they had a cooler full of beer as well as cold water bottles for us to enjoy. I of course can’t drink beer because of the gluten, but I was happy to have an endless supply of cold water to drink, and my coworkers enjoyed the beers.
The first winery we visited was a beautiful winery called Paoloni, where we sat in a comfortable, open-air patio area and sampled different wines as we relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I’m not usually much of a Chardonnay fan, but I actually liked theirs so I bought a bottle before we headed out of there. The prices were very reasonable, by the way. The second winery we visited was Viña de Frannes, where we sat at a big table on a gorgeous patio and enjoyed the beautiful views of the valley while sampling more wines. I bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc there, because I’m a wino like that. Again, the prices were quite reasonable.
Our next stop was an incredible restaurant called Finca Altozano, featuring the culinary delights of celebrity chef Javaier Plascencia. The ambiance at this restaurant was absolutely beautiful. It was technically an outdoor patio, like the other places we had been, but the patio was completely covered and kept quite cool even though it was quite a warm day. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, quite cheerful. The food was incredible and when I explained that I needed to eat gluten free to the server, he was able to explain the things I could eat from the group meal that had been ordered.
After eating, we stayed at Finca Altozano for a little while longer because the property also included some other things, such as a little stand where a man was selling gourmet sauces, a gelato shop, and some areas where you could visit pigs and goats. There were also plenty of adorable dogs running around to pet. It was heaven.
Our last stop was at the cliffside bar at Cuatro Cuatros. There, we relaxed with drinks and a cheese platter while we enjoyed beautiful views of the Mexican coastline. The place felt trendy and cool. They were playing fun music at the bar and it was just a nice place to hang out. I could have stayed there much longer (fun fact: Cuatro Cuatros is actually also somewhere you can stay the night if you fancy a bit of glamping in a very luxurious cabin tent).
After Cuatro Cuatros, the adventure was sadly over and we loaded ourselves back into our van for the ride back across the border. They stopped before we reached the border so we could all use the restroom before crossing, as wait times can sometimes be long. Thankfully for us, the border crossing didn’t take much time at all that particular day. I suspect it was because we went on a Friday, when most people are crossing into Mexico for the weekend and fewer are coming into the United States. The line to enter Mexico on the other side of the border was quite long, and had we done the trip on a Sunday, the crossing time coming back could have been very long. Keep this in mind in case you want to do an adventure like this and plan accordingly if at all possible.
I would highly recommend checking out the Valle de Guadalupe, and if you’re looking for a tour to go on, I would highly recommend the Boca Roja Wine Adventures. They really did an excellent job of taking care of us and taking us to some lovely places, and it couldn’t have been easier. Don’t forget your passport! If you’re not a U.S. citizen, make sure you check ahead of time if you have any additional requirements for crossing into Mexico, such as visas, etc., as this can vary depending on what country you’re from. If you’re a U.S. citizen, all you need is your passport and your sense of adventure!