The Napa Valley of Mexico: Valle de Guadalupe
If you’re a wine lover, chances are you’ve already been to Napa Valley. Where should you go next? Head south to Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe!
The Valle de Guadalupe is an area of Ensenada Municipality, Baja California, Mexico that has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for wine. Wine-lovers visiting this region include organized tour groups out of Tijuana, as well as day trippers from cruise ships docked in the nearby port city of Ensenada.
Mexico is not a major wine-drinking country, with beer and tequila being far more popular than wine. The average wine consumption per person in Mexico is only two glasses a year. Along with this, the Mexican government imposes taxes of 40% per bottle, making it hard for wine producers to compete with beer and tequila. Despite this, consumption of wine in Mexico is growing. Wine imports almost quadrupled from 1995 to 2005.
Baja California vine cultivation was started by Russian immigrants in the early 19th century. These immigrants initially grew grapes to produce brandy, with an eventual shift to producing wine. Today, the Baja California region is producing red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Zinfandel, Grenache. and Mission. The white wines are Chenin Blanc, Palomino, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Saint Emilion, and Malaga.
Where to go:
There are over 100 wineries in Valle de Guadalupe. Some of the top wineries in the region include Casa Frida, Casta de Vinos, Decantos Vinicola, Finca La Carrodilla, Hacienda La Lomita, Monte Xanic, Sol y Barro, and Vena Cava. Each winery has its own essence. Vena Cava, for example, has a unique design aesthetic seen by its winery constructed of recycled boat parts. Monte Xanic, on the other hand, is ultra-sophisticated with minimalist architecture and interior design
Most winery visits include a tasting and a tour of the premises, with the option to purchase wines that make an impression.
Since the 1990’s, the association of winemakers of Baja California has been holding yearly Grape Harvest Fiestas in the Valley of Guadalupe and the town of Ensenada in August. The celebration includes wine tasting sessions, concerts and soirées, and samplings of regional cuisine and Mexican wines.Wine tasting is available year-round, and several of the wineries have built up-market restaurant/tasting establishments aimed specifically at tourists from the United States.
If you’re running out of things to do on your wine bucket list, it’s a great idea to head down to Valle de Guadalupe for some great food and tasty wine!