Though the group tours page here on our website does feature a brief itinerary of a typical tour, we still get a lot of messages from potential tour-takers asking us variations on a simple question: "so what exactly do you do on a tour of the Valle de Guadalupe?"
Frankly, it makes sense. Before you shell out cash and a full day of your weekend heading to someplace you've never been before, you certainly want to know what to expect! That's why we'd like to address the question here in our newest blog post--"A Day in the Life" here at Baja Winery Tours.
A Day in the Life at Baja Winery Tours
We hope you got a good night's sleep, because you've got a long day ahead of you! Unsure of what to expect, excited, and perhaps a bit nervous even, you leave the house around 8 o'clock to make it to our central San Diego meeting point well before our departure time of 9:00 AM. Once you arrive, any worries you might have had quickly start to fade away. Your tour guides are friendly and down-to-earth, and you can tell you'll make fast friends with the rest of the group. You hop onto our comfortable, air-conditioned transportation and you're off, soon crossing the border and ready to experience this land so close to home yet so far away.
It's about an hour and a half from central San Diego to the Valle de Guadalupe, the heart of Baja California wine country. You might have heard some nightmare Tijuana driving stories from friends before you left, but once again Baja Winery Tours has it all figured out. Rather than the gritty urban jungle of the border city, you look out the window to see scenes more like this one:
Instead of passing through Tijuana, all of our tours hug the Baja California coastline along Mexico's Highway 1. The views here are impressive to say the least, and more than one guest has commented that it's something like driving along California's Big Sur coast.
Before you know it, you're turning off of Highway 1 and heading inland. Here the scenery rapidly starts to change, and rather than the deep blue of the sea you'll soon be seeing the patchwork greens and browns of Mexican agricultural land:
And then, quicker than you'd thought possible, you're in the Valle de Guadalupe on Mexico's world-renowned Ruta del Vino. Who knew two hours could pass so fast?
The First Wineries
At this point it's around 10:30 AM, and you're ready to start what you came here to do--try some of the valley's world-famous wines! The wineries we visit rotate depending upon the season and the group--that way we can provide the absolute ideal wine-tasting experience on every one of our tours.
Today, the first winery we're stopping at is called La Lomita. Opened in 2009, La Lomita has quickly grown into one of the Valle de Guadalupe's most respected family-owned-and-operated wineries:
The staff at La Lomita are always warm and friendly, and whether you're a seasoned wine expert or just a casual fan, they'll take you under their wing as they show you exactly how they produce their fantastic selection of wines. You start the tour with a quick walk through the vineyards, and from there you'll see how the best grapes are hand-selected prior to processing:
You'll check out the cellar, and of course, you'll have ample opportunity to sample the wines crafted here at La Lomita. It's not a bad way to start the tour, and it's still not even the afternoon!
After an hour or so exploring La Lomita and enjoying their wines, it's time to move on to the second winery on our tour. Today we'll be checking out Monte Xanic, founded by five friends in 1987 as arguably the Valle de Guadalupe's original boutique winery. The team has grown since then, but the same passion and expertise is still poured into every bottle of wine made at Monte Xanic today.
On the tour here, you'll enjoy a look at a larger and more established winery business--Monte Xanic currently produces over 50,000 cases of wine annually. Wines made here are sold throughout Mexico and even in some select spots internationally, so you'll discover an operation that's a bit more advanced logistically than at La Lomita. That being said, there's a reason that Monte Xanic wines are still the gold standard to which most new Mexican wines are compared. Once you get to the sampling part of the tour, you'll understand completely!
By this time it's almost 1:30 in the afternoon, not to mention the fact that you've got a few glasses of fine wine in you! There's no doubt you're feeling hungry, but don't fret--it's time for lunch at one of the Valle de Guadalupe's top gourmet restaurants.
Though our lunch destinations do rotate as well, today we'll be enjoying a five-course tasting menu at Finca Altozano, without a doubt one of the top restaurants in the Valle de Guadalupe. The restaurant's roots stretch back well over a decade to when it was just a small tent, some wooden logs, and a grill manned by the indomitable Tijuana chef Javier Plascencia:
This is the same guy that owns multiple restaurants throughout Tijuana and just opened up the fantastic Bracero Cocina in San Diego--does the name ring a bell?
Anyway... Finca Altozano is a restaurant with a simple concept, an asador campestre ("country grill") using the freshest local ingredients to create plates that are classic, innovative, and environmentally friendly all at once.
Here you'll have a choice to make. You might decide to relax in the shade:
Or you might choose to take a seat in one of the restaurant's iconic giant wine barrels:
Either way, prepare yourself for a deceptively simple and absolutely delicious five-course menu featuring without a doubt the freshest, most mouth-watering birria and barbacoa you've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. While you eat, you'll chat with your fellow tour members and guides, sharing stories and laughs on this beautiful afternoon.
The Final Winery
After a long, leisurely lunch, it's about 3:00 PM--time to visit the final winery on our tour. Today we'll be visiting the Adobe Guadalupe, which doubles as an inn and a horse training center. In fact, the Adobe Guadalupe is the largest breeder of Azteca sporthorses in the world!
For today though, there'll be no horseback riding for you--we've simply got too many things to do.
Founded in 1998, the Adobe Guadalupe is home to over 60 acres of vineyards growing a vast variety of grapes for an equally vast variety of wines. The grounds of the Adobe Guadalupe are also full of interesting sculptures and pieces of folk art designed by local, national, and international artists like Juan Sebastián Beltrán, Cecilia García Amaro, and Natana Gulliver:
After exploring the grounds of the Adobe Guadalupe, learning more about their winemaking process, sampling their wines, and sharing yet another fantastic experience with your tourmates, it's starting to get late. The sun is just beginning to wane over the Adobe Guadalupe:
It's just after 5 o'clock, and it's about time to get headed back home.
The Drive Back
After a long day of food, sun, laughter, exploration, and plenty of wine, you're grateful to be getting back on the transportation for your return trip across the border. It was a lot of fun, but frankly, you're exhausted.
If you and the rest of the group still have some energy, we'll stop at one of our favorite roadside stands for authentic Mexican tacos or delicious, freshly made churros before we cross back into the United States. Even if you didn't think you could fit anything else in your stomach, the smell alone will probably entice you to enjoy just a bit more of the Mexican experience before you go.
Now, before you know it, you're crossing the border back into the United States. As we return to our original meeting point in central San Diego, today feels almost like a dream. Did we really manage to have so many incredible experiences in one afternoon, and just a few hours away from San Diego?
It's now 7 o'clock, and it's time to hop off the bus and head back to your car. Before you go, you share goodbyes and perhaps even contact information with your new winery tour friends. After thanking your tour guides one last time, it's off back home once again. As you walk across the parking lot, you realize how excited you are to brag about the experience to friends and family tomorrow!
So that's it--a typical day for us here at Baja Winery Tours. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, or if you have a few more questions before making your decision, why not contact us? We'd be more than happy to fill you in and to have you along on our next tour.