Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico is a Wine-and-Foodie Wonderland

This wine region is Baja California’s answer to Napa Valley.
The vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe and the surrounding valleys are responsible for 90 percent of the wine in Mexico. Photograph Courtesy of Baja Tourism

About three hours south of Orange County lies a wine-and-foodie wonderland, a rural paradise within the greater Ensenada municipality that’s home to more than 150 wineries from micro to mega, dozens of top-notch restaurants in often magical settings, and architecturally noteworthy accommodations. In spring, the vines come to life and the weather is ideal. Amid skyrocketing visitor interest, there’s a new push to maintain the region’s distinctive character, but one thing won’t change: The focus remains almost entirely on eating and drinking. 

Feast on delightful snacks by chef David Castro Hussong at Fauna. Photograph Courtesy of Baja Tourism


Fauna, the fine-dining destination at the Bruma eco-luxury resort and winery, is enchanting. Its ceiling of intertwined twigs casts mesmerizing shadows; changing dishes by chef David Castro Hussong—yes, his family owns Ensenada’s famed cantina—are just as provocative; the venue is also ideal for a sunset with cocktails and, of course, snacks ($10). Nearby is a 300-year-old oak tree, an extraordinary centerpiece below ground for the Bruma Vinicola tasting room and above ground for a dramatic reflecting pool. 


Valle de Guadalupe and its neighboring valleys produce 90 percent of Mexico’s wine. Finca la Carrodilla, Mexico’s first certified organic and biodynamic vineyard, offers tastings on a beautiful view deck near El Porvenir ($20 to $40). Its wines are featured elsewhere at Lunario Restaurante, set on a pond and known for innovative monthly menus. El Cielo Winery offers elegant terrace and subterranean tastings ($18.50 to $55) and a wine-blending experience, as well as golf-cart vineyard tours and an upscale gift shop. There are several dining venues on-site.


Weekends at Wa Kumiai Tabita, chef Tabita Dominguez offers dishes of the Indigenous Kumiai people, who also staff the rustic restaurant. Start with acorn coffee ($2.30) and white menudo ($7.80); whole lamb turns on a spit for the starring barbacoa ($11). Find it beyond massive producer L.A. Cetto winery in the village of San Antonio Necua. The modest Siñaw Kuatay museum nearby focuses on the Kumiai, too. At the valley’s other end, expect huge portions of delicious Baja fare, and lines, at La Cocina de Doña Esthela. 


The Museo de La Vid y El Vino—Museum of the Vine and the Wine—is in a striking modern building along Highway 3, La Ruta del Vino. The entrance is below ground; above are an event space and a deck with spectacular panoramas. Exhibits throughout include one that traces the history of wine from the country of Georgia to Mexico, others that look at wine production and appreciation, and a gallery of wine-inspired art. 


Look up from the highway along Francisco Zarco and you’ll spot a series of free-standing cubes dotting the hillside—the distinctive accommodations of Encuentro Guadalupe ($462 and up). Those who check in are shuttled from the striking reception area up a narrow drive or can access their eco-pod, the hilltop swimming pool, and airy guests-only eatery via a recently unveiled nature trail. JAK, its new Baja-Med restaurant and bar, is open to the public. 

Guests at Encuentro Guadalupe stay in individual eco-pods overlooking the valley. Photograph Courtesy of Encuentro Guadalupe

Tip From a Local

“Aguas Termales Valle de Guadalupe is a beautiful hike: about 4 miles out and back, with ponds and hot springs, and ruins at the end.”

—Alejandro Solís Morán, ecotour leader


Stay in larger cubes for half the price at Chateaux del Valle ($264 and up), a tucked-away property, accessed by dirt roads, with minimalist design and a serene vibe. Contemporary glass, wood, and concrete villas are warmed with details such as an outsize corkscrew interior door handle. Each has a kitchenette and fireplace and includes a light breakfast. Chairs on the roof are ideal for enjoying glasses of wine at sunset and starry nights.


Chef Drew Deckman is best known for his eponymous Deckman’s en el Mogor, an open-air venue where he mans the grill. But the don’t-miss day spot is his more intimate Conchas de Piedra, where he offers elevated “regional-responsible” Baja shellfish—e.g., oysters with fermented habaneros and harissa citrus ($11 for six) or abalone aguachile ($20)—and sparkling wines. For more casual options, head to the town of Francisco Zarco for a mulita or vampiro at Tacos del Valle. Sample superior salsas and marmalades at Alvéolo bakery-cafe. 

Mark Your Calendar

April 22 and 23: Festival de las Conchas y Vino Nuevo, down the hill in Ensenada, presents 150 new Baja wine releases and shellfish from 50 restaurants.