Wine isnt the first alcoholic beverage that comes to mind when one mentions Mexico. From what most can remember of their Mexico trip, they definitely have enough tequila to drown a small country and rarely does one see a glass of wine. Massive frozen margaritas or mojitos with a little umbrella were the norm and Mexican wine was never even uttered.
But now, one of the newest and most interesting wine regions in the Americas can be found in Baja Californias Valle de Guadalupe, with nearly 100 wineries hidden in a valley strategically placed so that the climate is similar to the Mediterranean. These Mexico-based vineyards have proven that they are capable of producing exciting artisan wines. And best of all, it is only a two-hour drive south of San Diego.
The Baja climate could not be better for grapes. During the summers, the weather is hot, sunny and dry with breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean moderating temperatures while winters are wet and cool. The soil is so porous, rain water and moisture are absorbed as if by a sponge.
The valley has quite the interesting mix of wineries, anything from small mom-and-pop vineyards to larger operations, most launched in the past decade. Resort and winery Encuentro Guadalupe has 20 modern, eco-friendly bungalows called pods spaced out along the hillside, according to the Mother Nature Network.
People are starting to come to Valle de Guadalupe as a less expensive alternative to Napa, Sonoma and other north-of-the-border wine destinations. This increase in income has brought tourism dollars and led to upgrades like new roads while local culture has remained authentic and rarely, if ever, changes.
Thanks to its moderate climate, Guadalupe is a year-round destination. Only once each year do the crowds reach levels like Napa. At least 20,000 visitors descend on the valley each August for Fiestas de la Vendimia, the annual harvest celebration that most area vineyards and artisan producers participate in.
Valle de Guadalupe offers more than an alternative to Napa and Sonoma. It provides an interesting, down-to-earth wine vacation as well as a chance to stay in the Baja countryside and enjoy the laid-back pace of local life.