Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Amazing wines, gorgeous scenery and Michelin-star chefs hidden just south of the border!
- More about your oliver guide: Kielty Nivaud
- Trip type: Adult, Group getaway, Desert
- Activity level: easy
- Ideal length of trip: 2-3 days
to & from
Fly into the San Diego airport and rent a car. An SUV may be preferred to handle some of the dirt roads, but you’ll be fine in a smaller car as well. The drive to Valle de Guadalupe from San Diego is easy and scenic, roughly 1 hr. 30 min. As a native San Diegan, I have driven over the border and back numerous times, and it is nothing to fret about.
- The most direct point of entry is taking highway 5 to the San Ysidro border crossing.
- We personally loved driving ourselves, as it was a memorable part of the adventure. We did stumble across these alternatives when researching for our trip: uberVALLE, Club Tengo Hambre, and Turista Libre
- You do need Mexican auto insurance, and while there are a few places near the border to drive up and purchase insurance, we did it online and printed the policy at home, before hitting the road. Insurance for a 2 day trip costs $56.
- Definitely take note of this graph for ideal border crossing times, as there are thousands of commuters and tourists crossing the border daily.
Where to Stay
So many options to choose from! The Valle de Guadalupe consists of an incredible array of high-end boutique hotels, B&Bs, luxe eco-lodges and airbnbs.
On both trips to the Valley de Guadalupe, we stayed at La Villa del Valle, an iconic, winery-turned-b&b 6 bedroom gem perched on a hill with views of the valley. We adored our stay there! Incredible Mexican breakfast feast (included in the nightly rate), charming nooks and crannies to explore, beautiful grounds, and an eco-winery that ended up being a big highlight: Vena Cava, hip and sleek, made of recycled boats!
The Valle de Guadalupe is a place we plan on visiting again and again. And while our first recommendation for where to stay is La Villa del Valle, on our next visit, if we decide to mix it up/explore other accommodation options, I am intrigued by these two:
Where to Eat and Drink
- Bruma Winery: We had the most incredible private tour and tasting here, followed by lunch at the winery’s stunning new restaurant Fauna. Impeccable food (this was our most fancy meal, even though not much is fancy in the valley), at a stunning communal, reclaimed tree, table (truly a craftsman’s masterpiece), that runs the length of the restaurant, half inside, half outside.
- Vena Cava: Our hotel’s winery. While we did not eat at our hotel’s food truck, Troika, it sits right outside the winery for a quick bite.
- Finca Carrodilla: Tastings on garden rooftop in company with the Virgin Guadalupe. Their downstairs shop sells local olive oil, breads and cheeses. The olive oil makes for a great gift.
- Deckman’s: Hands down, the highlight meal of our trip, and at the top of my “favorite restaurants of all time” list. Casual outdoor seating, incredible farm to table menu, rustic but chic. Don’t let the mud walls and dirt floor fool you! Reservations an absolute must. The kitchen is essentially one big outdoor grill. Michelin-Starred Chef Drew Deckman is my hero. We also had a wine there that was divine called San Antonio de las Minas, Blanco de Cruz 2016, and on my next visit to the Valle de Guadalupe, I would like to visit this vineyard to scoop up a few bottles.
- Finca Altozano: An early dinner is a complete must as you must get there well before the sun sets to enjoy the views, the firepits, and priceless photo opps of your crew climbing up ladders into massive wine barrels with comfy seats inside them.
- Lechuza Vineyard: I haven’t been, but dying to go, supposedly a top choice for the region. Be sure to book ressies in advance!
- Viñas de Garza, Viña de Frannes , Adobe Guadalupe: These are all vineyards we have also not yet visited, but which have been highly recommended and definite to dos on our next trip!
- On your way back from Valle de Guadalupe to San Diego, we have friends that rave about street tostadas from La Guerrensee, an incredible scene that they will forever talk. Also a favorite of Anthony Bourdain.
- If you are driving from San Diego – break up the drive with a stop in Ensenada, where many classic Mexican restaurants offer a decent lunch fare right along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific.
What to Do
Our 2-3 day trip was filled with long meals, wine tasting and soaking up the eco-architecture and history of our various stops. We did not make room for much else. The hotel did have a list of activities (yoga, massages, etc) but for us, this trip is all about the food, the wines, and the Mexican countryside.
Architects Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turrent, have had a large influence in the Valley de Guadalupe, known for using reclaimed materials with a modern edge. Wineries including Vena Cava and Bruma are not to be missed for not just the wine, but for the visual experience.
While the Pacific Ocean is not far from the Valle de Guadalupe, stick to the valley, as there are too many gems to enjoy that you will forever reminisce about.
- The Valle de Guadalupe is quite proud of a winery called Monte Xanic winery and this name will come up as you plan your trip. And while the winery does have a stunning view, interesting history, and the wine is good, it had a more commercial, less personal feel and lacked the intimacy of our other stops.
- Ladies, don't bother packing heels!