Wine lovers, it’s time to look beyond Napa Valley and turn your focus south. No, we’re not talking about Paso Robles or Temecula, but across the border. While we’ve long loved Mexico for its sandy beaches and stiff margaritas, a (new to us) region has completely changed our motivation to add a stamp to our passports. Believe it or not, Mexico has quickly become our destination of choice for an enological getaway!
About 90 miles south of San Diego is the Valle de Guadalupe — a region with a robust history and La Ruta del Vino, or the Wine Route. Since it’s just east of Ensenada, the cool air from the Pacific Ocean has created the perfect microclimate for growing grapes. The valley now boasts over 100 wineries, not to mention fine dining restaurants and luxury accommodations.
Our favorite part of this hotspot is how easy it is to get there! You can fly to San Diego, or if you’re lucky enough to be based in the Los Angeles area, book a ticket on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner. You’ll leave from the historic Union Station, settle into your seat with a mimosa and a magazine, and watch the waves crash against the sand. (Bonus: no luggage fees!) As you drive across the border from San Diego, you’ll see the beauty of the coastline before heading into rolling hills and farmland. (If you don’t want to rent a car, luxury transportation can be arranged!)
Our hotel of choice is the brand new El Cielo Winery & Resort, a true oasis for wine and food lovers alike. Situated on 79 acres of vineyards, the property is lush with gardens (much of the food is grown on-site), two lakes, olive groves, and sweeping mountain views that will take your breath away. The architecture fuses Tuscan charm with West Coast style, tricking you into thinking you’re much further away than Baja. The boutique hotel has 56 suites located within expansive 2,350-square-foot villas, including two Presidential Villas for intimate groups of up to eight. Each villa boasts one Master Suite and two Junior Suites that can be booked separately or connecting, so it’s ideal for both romantic getaways or lively parties.
Of course, the added bonus of staying at El Cielo is easy access to their acclaimed winery. Led by winemaker Jesús Rivera, the award-winning wines are carefully crafted and use different concepts and varietals to create surprising new blends. Whether you prefer something light or more full-bodied, their four lines (Astros, Astrónomos, Constelaciones and Estrellas) will surprise and delight your palate. Tasting options are unlimited — set up something more intimate in their underground cellar, or hop on a trolley for a vineyard tour. The hotel is also happy to accommodate more “active” tastings: everything from grape stomping to ATV rides can be arranged.
For food, El Cielo has taken farm-to-table to the next level. As previously mentioned, quite a bit of the produce is grown in the property’s gardens. The chefs have utilized local flavors to create dishes that are both surprising and memorable. Guests can eat at one of the property’s two restaurants or order room service and enjoy on their private balcony overlooking the lakes and vineyards.
Starting at just $225 per night, El Cielo is not just an opportunity to enjoy a luxurious weekend, but to truly enjoy an authentic Mexican escape. Start the slideshow to experience some of our highlights.