28 hours in the Valle de Guadalupe

After hearing for the past few years about the beautiful vineyards of Baja, tucked into the mountains just beyond the coastline of Ensenada, we were longing to see it for ourselves. I love Mexico. I love wine. I wanted to go.

Lucky for us, one of our dear friends who lives in San Diego has been down to the Valle many times and offered to take us to some of her favorite spots. After she finished work on Monday, we all jumped in the car and headed south from San Diego, easily crossing the border before 5pm. The drive hugs the breathtaking coastline, where the Pacific is showing off and mocking all those who think Mexico is too dangerous to visit. “Fine, don’t come, your loss,” she taunts.

Golden hour hit as we approached Ensenada and the light fell into the crevices of the mountains. It was breathtaking. We turned inland to the east and arrived at Hacienda de Guadalupe by 6:30pm, just in time for our reservation. The restaurant sits perched on the way up a mountain, just high enough to offer an expansive view of the valley turning to dusk.

We slept at the Posada Inn, a charming (and a bit too rustic for the price) hotel that offers a swimming pool, hot tub (that didn’t work), restaurant and coffee shop. I loved it because it was where we were and I was enchanted by everything but once my shower did not deliver hot water the enchantment began to slip. While I’ll always remember it fondly I can’t say I would return.

We then set out to visit Finca Altozano and the breathtaking grounds before embarking on our first tasting at Vena Cava. We enjoyed a $15 wine flight in the cellar, where the ceilings are repurposed upside down fishing boats, and then delicious octupus tostadas and shrimp tacos under a canopy of recycled tires next to the food truck.

The valley was dry and dusty with mostly unpaved roads, making each artistic and creative winery we came upon a surprising delight and the US priced food and drink a less delightful surprise. We’ve been on the road awhile and aren’t used to paying $15 for a flight of wine—we’re on a budget, what can we say? After we had our fill we continued our drive through the valley, wandering into the Cuatro Cuatros winery, enjoying the wine room and housing/tents they are building before heading up the mountain toward the coast, to the gem of the trip.

We parked our car at the top of a cliff, walked down the steep dirt road and rounded the corner to take in the breathtaking view of the Cuatro Cuatros Mirador. The bar is built into the side of the mountain, in an area that stretches out toward the clouds above the ocean. It was the coolest bar I’ve ever been to, I can’t even think of what might compete. We lounged for a few hours to make it to sunset and were joined by all of the others who arrived to snap an obnoxious amount of photos (us included) as the sun withdrew behind the ocean.

We then headed back towards home, stopping in Tijuana to eat $1 street tacos which were more our speed and then enjoying the benefits of the Sentri Pass and our Global Entry cards as we waited in line behind one car at the border crossing back into the U.S. Also the best border crossing of my life; if you’ve ever crossed from Tijuana into San Diego you know exactly what I mean. We made it home by 8:30pm, with sun-kissed faces and bellies full of tacos. I still love Mexico.

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