Besides being a spectacular region for outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, and motocross, Baja has grown to become one of South America’s premier wining and dining destinations, with wineries centered in Valle de Guadalupe, located some 70 miles south of the San Diego border, 2 hours away by car. This Baja wine country is home to more than 60 wineries, all found in a 35-square-mile area, thus making it easy for visitors to see them all in any of the Valle de Guadalupe wine tours offered to guests.
Ideal Location for Winemaking
The history of winemaking in Baja can be traced back to the Spanish conquistadors, who brought vine clippings from Europe in the 16th century. Today, Baja wineries occupy a strategic location for winemaking, with a combination of hot daytime temperatures and cool nighttime moisture from ocean breezes, creating a Mediterranean climate proven to be hospitable for growing a wide variety of grapes.
Grape Varieties Cultivated in Valle de Guadalupe
The grape varieties grown in Valle de Guadalupe include a laundry list of greatest hits, such as Tempranillo, Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Chardonnay, Grenache, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, and white grapes such as Chenin blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This eclectic mix of grapes, and the resulting wines, is part of what makes Baja a charming destination for wine connoisseurs and foodies alike.
In this guide, we go over a few wines made from the local grapes grown in Baja, and what best to pair with them.
Founded in 2005, Valle de Guadalupe’s Lechuza Winery offers a Chardonnay in both unoaked and oaked versions. The unoaked type features a balanced and attractive flavor, while the oaked variety has strong notes of oak. As with any Chardonnay, Lechuza’s is great with light seafood and chicken dishes.
The Nebbiolo grapes of Italy’s Piedmont region—where the climate is temperate all year round—are bountiful in Valle de Guadalupe despite temperatures going over 110 degrees. Its mouth-drying tannins make it a perfect wine for foods such as braised ribs, roasts, and anything with truffles.
The Baron Balche winery produces some of the finest reds in all of Baja, but is limited at just 120,000 bottles a year, with each bearing a character that’s unique to Baron Balche. A custom Baja winery tour can be arranged for this popular stop on the Baja wine trail.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a mainstay in most tasting sessions in Valle de Guadalupe’s wineries. For the very best, head to Casa de Piedra, a pioneer in Baja’s winemaking evolution. The winery’s flagship is Vina de Piedra, a unique blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, and widely regarded as one of the finest wines in all of Mexico. For maximum enjoyment, pair it with Valle de Guadalupe’s delicious pizzas or tacos, or for something more filling, braised short ribs, or mushroom stroganoff.