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The Best of Ensenada

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The Best of Ensenada

Best of Ensenada

Ease of Access

  • Buy insurance in the U.S.— Mexico liability insurance is required.
  • Don’t forget your passport, passport card, resident card, or equivalent U.S. ID.
  • Ask your hotel for a Fast Pass for a quicker ex- perience crossing the border.
  • If wine tasting in Guadalupe Valley, follow Highway 3 and cross at the Tecate border for shorter wait times.
  • Download the Best Times to Cross the Border app for wait times into the U.S.

Just 80 miles south of San Diego, Ensenada enchants as a vibrant port city next to a glistening bay, where endless recreational and gastronomic adventures await. Discovered by the Spanish in 1542, and founded as Ensenada in 1882, Baja California’s oldest city is a cultural hub with myriad museums, historic buildings, respected universities, and scientific research centers.

The Best of Ensenada

Bufadora

The bounty of seafood treasures from the rich local waters can be found in the bustling fish markets and fine-dining restaurants, or at the city’s famed taco shops and seafood carts. Ensenada’s dynamic epicurean scene also celebrates farm-fresh produce,  progressive chefs, and talented vintners. Baja’s beautiful wine country includes Guadalupe Valley, where close to 100 vineyards dot the pastoral countryside along La Ruta del Vino and La Antigua Ruta del Vino (The Old Wine Route), which lies to the south, home to legendary wineries such as Santo Tomás.

Ensenada is Mexico’s largest municipality in area, with more than 700 miles of coastline along the Pacific and the Sea of Cortéz. Outdoor enthusiasts love the epic surfing, world-class fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, Jet Skiing and whale watching. The Sea of Cortéz offers a chance to swim with whale sharks or camp along the pristine coastline. Ensenada’s many marinas welcome sailors and skippers to moor their crafts.

The Best of Ensenada

Ensenada

Old-town Ensenada, home to mezcal and craft beer bars, pulses with nightlife, live music, and late-night dancing. It’s also a shopper’s paradise for handicrafts, cutting-edge art, and silver.

With Ensenada’s proximity to the border, temperate Mediterranean climate, excellent medical services, dynamic food and wine scene, warm-spirited locals, and peaceful lifestyle, more and more people are gravitating to this coastal oasis as a place to vacation or live. Come find out why.

Road Detour Info

With the coastal highway being repaired, follow the toll road until Km 65, where an easy detour begins near La Fonda. This detour adds only 15 minutes of scenic driving on a toll-free road. The coastal road is expected to be repaired by September 2014.

 

Plan Your Stay

The Best of Ensenada

Riviera de Ensenada

Day 1: Old Favorites

Any trip to Ensenada should begin at the Riviera de Ensenada (Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas, #1421), the iconic architectural gem at the edge of town. Stroll the flowering gardens, and then wander inside the 1930 California Colonial–style building, once a glamorous hotel and casino known for its legendary events and celebrity guests. Restored as a cultural and social center in the 1980s, Riviera houses stunning mosaics, a historic museum, renowned artwork, and the famed Andalusian Bar, supposed birthplace of the margarita. Be sure to sip Mexico’s famous libation on the Bougainvillea Patio.

For a hearty meal and warm hospitality, head to Sano’s Steak House (Km 108, Tijuana-Ensenada Highway) for finer meats and stellar service. Enjoy aged select cuts and local fine wines or lighter, small-plate fare on the firelit patio. For after-dinner fun, head to Hussong’s (Ave. Ruiz, #113), the world-famous cantina where locals and visitors mingle and move to the sounds of norteño—lively Mexican country music—while imbibing the famed margaritas at Baja California’s oldest watering hole.

Day 2: Arts & Culture

For a sweet start to your day, El Rey Sol (1000 Ave. Primera) serves Parisian pastries every bit as authentic as those in France. Founded in 1947 by Doña Virginia “Pepita” Geffroy, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, the sidewalk café of this famed restaurant is a perfect spot for espresso, lattes, or fine teas to accompany the flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pastries. The area around Ave. Primera also bustles with boutiques, art galleries, and sophisticated shops. For silver, browse Los Castillo and Galleria, Mario’s Silver Shop, or Bazar Casa Ramírez. For Mata Ortiz pottery and native handcrafted art, head to Galería Pérez Meillon. Exceptional leather goods, like bags, belts, and luggage, await at Gold Duck, while Fausto Polanco dazzles with hacienda-style furniture and decorative household accessories.

For a window into the arts, visit Centro Estatal de las Artes (Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas at Blvd. Club Rotario), the impressive modern museum and cultural center, featuring international artists, local painters, photography exhibits, poetry workshops, live concerts, and more. Another interesting piece of local history can be found at the old jail, which now houses the Regional History Museum (Ave. Gastelum) and an ongoing film series under the stars.

The Best of Ensenada

La Guerrerense

For lunch, line up for a casual bite at La Guerrerense seafood cart (Alvarado and López Mateos), Anthony Bourdain’s favorite for tostadas de ceviche with homemade salsa.

Next, head to Bodegas de Santo Tomás (666 Miramar Ave.), and sample wine from Baja’s oldest vineyard. After a tour of the antique winemaking machinery and impressive barrel room, belly up to the bar for an artisan chocolate and wine pairing experience. The creamy cocoa butter of the housemade La Suiza white chocolate plays nicely off the oaky notes of the 2009 Santo Tomás Chardonnay.

For dinner, watch the sunset on the patio at Muelles Tres (Teniente Azueta 187 at the Malecon) while enjoying fresh ceviche or sashimi. Then convene for a nightcap at Doña Frida (Ave. López Mateos, #334), a colorful mezcal bar that honors Mexico’s beloved artist Frida Kahlo. Still awake? Dance the night away to electronica at Lutzenkirch (Ave. Ruiz #149).

The Best of Ensenada

Bajamar

Day 3: Outdoor Adventure & Craft Beer

Explore the boardwalk and sprawling Mercado Negro Fish Market (at the beginning of Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas), where you’ll find fresh catch like calamari, bluefin tuna, octopus, lobster, and more. Then hop aboard a boat for your own deep-sea fishing adventure or a tour of the bay. The waters off Ensenada are abundant with halibut, yellowtail, white sea bass, and bonito. Sergio Sports Fishing (Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas at the pier) offers guided trips, equipment, and licenses, so you can hook the big one. Back on land, golfers will gravitate to Bajamar (Km 77.5, Carr. Tijuana-Ensenada), known as the “Pebble Beach of Mexico” for its outstanding 27 holes of golf and natural beauty. Perched on the bluff, the course snakes along the coast, and the breathtaking fifth hole requires an over-the-crashing-surf shot. Try not to let the breaching whales off the coast distract your putting game.

The Best of Ensenada

Wendlandt

Finish the day with a trip to the outstanding new brewery Cerveceria Wendlandt (El Sauzal), and sample the hops-forward, award-winning beers, leading the charge in Ensenada’s craft beer movement. Beer maestros Ben Matz, formerly of Stone Brewing, and savvy husband-and-wife team Eugenio and Diana Romero command the state-of-the-art brewery, which overlooks the sea. Be sure to try the refreshing Veraniega (summer) ale on the sunny beer deck, or pop into the brewpub in town, Cerveceria Wendlandt (Blvd. Costero #248) for gourmet flatbreads, pork-belly sliders, and more excellent IPAs and stouts.

Day 4: Guadalupe Valley

Take a scenic drive inland along Highway 3, Ruta del Vino, to Baja’s bucolic wine country to taste the terroir and explore this magical valley. Start at Museo de la Vid y El Vino (Km 81, Carr. Tecate-Ensenada), a lovely museum that tells the tale of Baja’s viniculture and history of winemaking with beautiful exhibits set against stone walls and giant barrels. The museum happily arranges tours to the surrounding vineyards. Enjoy tastings at Viña de Garza, Sol y Barro, Monte Xanic, Las Nubes, and Barón Balché, to name a few. Save time for a leisurely lunch at Finca Altozano (Km 83, Carr. Tecate–Ensenada), famed chef Javier Plascencia’s dreamy outdoor eatery overlooking his family’s vineyard.

 

Outside of Old Town Ensenada

The Best of Ensenada

Hotel Coral y Marina

To the East

Bodegas y Viñedos San Rafael: Visit the winery of the Hussongs, the family who served as pioneers in the new viticultural region of the Ojos Negros Valley. Baja California’s first Pinot Noir grapes were harvested right here in 2004. Try the fruit-forward Passion Meritage. 38 km from Ensenada. bodegassanrafael.com

Cava de Marcelo: Venture east to Ojos Negros to this 100-year-old artisan cheese cellar in a charming farmhouse, where fourth-generation cheesemaker Marcelo Castro welcomes guests with a property tour of the cellar, cheese-making process and livestock, followed by a wine-and-cheese picnic in the garden. 40 km from Ensenada.

Constitution 1857 National Park: Amid the pine forests of the Sierra de Juárez, this beautiful preserve is home to Hanson Lake and hundreds of flower and wildlife species. Hike through the woods, take a tour, or rent a cabin in this pristine natural setting. 91 km from Ensenada.

To the South

Antigua Ruta del Vino: On the Old Wine Trail, you’ll discover many wineries, including Santo Tomás, Baja’s oldest vineyard, circa 1888. The stunning estate offers tastings, tractor tours and a chance to blend your own wine. Approximately 45 km from Ensenada. santo-tomas.com

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir: The National Observatory resides at this lovely national park. From its high elevation, sweeping views of both the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortéz can be seen at the same time. 220 km from Ensenada.

San Quintín: This fertile valley and quiet coastal town is home to migrant birds, great surfing, oyster farms, and excellent sports fishing. Approximately 176 km from Ensenada.

Mamá Espinoza: Try the famous lobster burritos at this favorite El Rosario restaurant. 250 km from Ensenada.

Cataviñá: Explore the 8,000- to 10,000-year-old cave paintings that reveal stories of the indigenous people in the area. 379 km from Ensenada.

 

Family Fun, Ensenada Style

The Best of Ensenada

Las Canadas

From zip-lining and teepee camping in the mountains to horseback riding and surfing the waves of Todos Santos Bay, a World Surfing Reserve, Ensenada offers exciting adventures on both land and sea for every family member.

PLAY

Surfing: Ensenada rocks it as a world-famous surfing mecca with breaks to gratify everyone from beginners to the pros. Gentle year-round waves and a sandy bottom can be found at Playa Hermosa, just south of the port, while intermediate surfers gravitate to San Miguel or nearby El Pico. Big-wave daredevils can opt for a 12-mile boat ride to Todos Santos Island, where swells can reach 50 to 60 feet, an epic site for Big Wave Surfing Competitions and experts only. Need a lesson? Check out surfensenada.com.

The Best of Ensenada

Surfing Ensenada

KENNEDY

La Bufadora: A pretty 17-mile drive along the coast and over the Punta Banda Mountains leads to this impressive marine geyser, one of the largest in North America. The natural phenomenon blasts seawater upwards of 80 feet every couple of minutes. Interested divers can explore the nearby caves, pinnacles, and sea lion rookeries. Stop for souvenirs, seafood snacks, and margaritas on the stroll back to the car. labufadoradive.com

The Best of Ensenada

Cuartimotos

Alejandro Bertheau

Las Cañadas: This clean, friendly recreational park and family campground, 35 minutes from town, hosts a 27-slide Pirate Cove Water Park, waterfall pools, a lake with paddle boats, horseback rides, ATV tours, and an outstanding zip-line canopy tour. Five zip-lines and five hanging bridges offer 1.2 miles of travel and 60 thumping minutes of adrenaline-packed excitement. Pitch a tent, rent an eco-cabin, or rest your head in a Sioux Indian–style teepee. lascanadas.com

Centro Ecoturístico Siñaw Kuatay: This eco-tourist recreational and cultural park honors the Kumiai native community and features a small museum of ancestral relics, a craft workshop, nature tours, and a casual restaurant serving regional cuisine. The park’s beautiful countryside can also be explored on horseback. sinawkuatay.com

Where to Eat

El Callejón Colectivo Culinario

This charming culinary collective features several international walk-up eateries surrounding a giant outdoor seating area with wooden tables for casual dining. Families can enjoy crêpes, gourmet pizza, wraps, salads, sushi, Argentine dishes, Cuban sandwiches, sangria, and live music under the hanging market lights. elcallejoncolectivoculinario.com

Where to Stay

Estero Beach

The multigeneration Novelo family welcomes guests to their waterfront hotel, which sits on 150 acres next to a calm estuary and bay, ideal for water sports. The 100 tasteful rooms offer garden and ocean views. Kids love the giant pool, hot tubs, and safe beach—a haven for swimming—along with kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, and spotting marine wildlife such as sleepy sea lions and frolicking dolphins. Be sure to check out the Museo del Estero, which houses Benjamin Novelo’s incredible collection of pre-Columbian art, fossils, and rare photos. hotelesterobeach.com

 

Where to Stay

From affordable accommodations in the heart of town to luxury suites overlooking the sea, Ensenada’s range of hotels appeals to every kind of traveler.

The Best of Ensenada

Posada El Rey Sol

Bajamar Oceanfront Hotel & Golf Resort

This handsome resort, an hour south of San Diego at kilometer 77.5 on the Pacific coast toll road, offers easy access to both Baja’s famous wine country and the port city of Ensenada. The colonial-style Hotel Hacienda Bajamar has 81 stylish rooms, fine dining, live music at La Trampa bar, and sits next to 27 holes of spectacular coastal golf. golfbajamar.com

Posada El Rey Sol

This colonial-style, family-run boutique hotel offers up comfortable beds, festive Mexican handicraft decor, a heated pool, a beautiful tiled hot tub, and complimentary breakfast at El Rey Sol. Set in the center of town, it affords easy access to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Pet-friendly too. posadaelreysol.com

El Cid Hotel

This charming Mediterranean-style hotel overlooks Ensenada Bay, and offers easy access to the city’s dining scene, shopping, nightlife, and the waterfront. Guests enjoy clean affordable rooms, suites with Jacuzzi tubs, an inviting outdoor pool, and complimentary continental breakfast.  hotelelcid.com

Hotel Coral y Marina

This contemporary hotel overlooks its marina and sculpture garden and boasts stylish ocean-view suites with balconies, a spectacular indoor pool, spa, and concert venue for live music by the sea. Gourmet cuisine and a dynamic bar scene help make it a favorite of Americans and yachties. hotelcoral.com

Estero Beach Hotel

This charming hotel sits on 150 acres and has a gorgeous pool, waterfront dining, a safe swim beach, and sports galore like jetskiing, kayaking, volleyball, and more. esterobeach.com

Hotel Mission Inn

When visiting the stunning agricultural valley and pristine coastal area of San Quintín (176 kilometers south of Ensenada), this modern hotel provides the perfect place to relax. Amenities include flat screens, WiFi, air conditioning, and room service. Restaurante La Misión serves up fresh seafood and favorites like crab burritos. Area highlights include superb sport fishing, sea lion colonies, oyster farms, missions, a national park, and more. hotelmissioninn.com

The Best of Ensenada

Cuatro Cuatros

LIVIA CORONA

Cuatro Cuatros

Guests check into luxury platform tents, reminiscent of an African safari scene, each with lounge chairs on decks overlooking the vineyards and old oak trees. The stylish interiors include comfy beds with bright textiles, cozy fireplaces, and open-air showers out back. Hiking, horseback riding, and wine tasting on a platform deck overlooking the sea add to the magic and help guests feel truly integrated with nature. cabanascuatrocuatros.com.mx

 

The Tastes of Baja California

The Best of Ensenada

Manzanilla

Manzanilla

Consistently named one of Mexico’s best eateries, this converted warehouse with its neon pink chandeliers and modern art dazzles the eye, while chef Benito Molina pleases the palate with his innovative menu reflecting the earthy and briny flavors of Baja. Think house-smoked oysters with tarragon butter and chiles, risotto with clams, mussels and fish, or abalone in tomato cream sauce, paired with local Guadalupe Valley wines. rmanzanilla.com

Punta Morro

Perched over the crashing waves of Todos Santo Bay, this formal-dining restaurant is helmed by chef Hugo Angulo, who masterfully presents dishes of shellfish, ceviche, and fine meats. Don’t miss the lobster enchiladas and sunset views. hotelpuntamorro.com

The Best of Ensenada

Punta Morro

{Enrique Fuentes Parra}

Corazón de México

Part of Bodegas Santo Tomás, this stylish eatery with its high ceilings, giant wine barrels, cheese cellar, and compelling brick architecture offers an inviting setting to savor eight different type of moles, ribeye tacos, grilled meats, and fine wines. santo-tomas.com

Sano’s steakhouse

One of Ensenada’s finest, Sano’s Steak House sports an old-school feel with its Mission-style architecture, formal white-tablecloth service, and hearty entrées. Outside, guests enjoy an open-air bar and enchanted cocktail patio with a fireplace. Carnivores will appreciate the prime rib on weekends, while small plates such as local oysters or aguachile scallops with yellow peppers appeal to the more casual patio diners. sanosrestaurant.com

The Best of Ensenada

El Rey Sol

El Rey Sol

This old-school restaurant, established in 1947, pays homage to French culture and cuisine. Founder Doña Virginia “Pepita” Geffroy, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, established a unique culinary experience in Baja—with décor inspired by the palaces of 17th-century France. Dignitaries and luminaries from around the globe have dined amongst the antique tapestries and royal portraits, where formally dressed, seasoned waiters demonstrate that fine dining and impeccable service can still be an art. The menu features French and international cuisine, along with traditional Mexican and seafood dishes and Pepita’s Parisian pastries. Delectables like Caesar salad and chateaubriand bouquetière are prepared tableside, as are the wonderful flambé coffees. El Rey Sol has received the prestigious Five Star Diamond Award, honoring the top 50 restaurants in Mexico, many times.

Locals’ Favorites

Tacos el Fénix:

One of the oldest stands in town, known for its fish and shrimp tacos, spicy fresh salsas, and traditional aguas frescas.

(Ave. Espinoza and Calle Sexta)

Cenaduría el Parian:

Traditional central and southern Mexican cuisine, like crispy flautas, sopes, enchiladas, pozole, and the chocolate-based hot drink champurrado. (Castillo #401)

MkTaco:

Delicious carne asada tacos, with plenty of seating.

(Lázaro Cárdenas Blvd. #1564)

 

Marriage Made in Heaven

The Best of Ensenada

Guadalupe Valley Wedding

Take your loved ones on an adventure to celebrate your union as a fairy-tale wedding awaits in Ensenada. Whether you desire to exchange your vows by the sea, on a coastal mountaintop, or in the pastoral wine country, rest assured that Ensenada is a safe, beautiful location with sunny weather, top-notch cuisine, and welcoming residents who can help plan the wedding of your dreams.

Casa de los Siete Patios

This stunning private estate of the Bitterlin family, perched above the crashing surf, has seven unique patios for seaside nuptials, suited for an intimate ceremony for two or a grandiose affair. A sprawling lawn above the infinity pool holds 625 guests, while Patio Ventana al Mar calls for a breathtaking ceremony under two Torrey pines with the cerulean sea as a backdrop. Olive trees line the long driveway that leads to the 8,000-square-foot house, which boasts five luxury suites, replete with sitting rooms, handcrafted furniture, beautiful artistic décor, and endless ocean views, an ideal place for the bride and groom and wedding party to reside. Manicured gardens, eucalyptus groves, cascades of bougainvillea, an outdoor kitchen, and barbecue area by the infinity pool, and hot tub further enhance this magical place. casadelossietepatios.com

The Best of Ensenada

Siete Patios

Sergio D’Gama Pineda

Hotel Coral

This waterfront hotel, known for its high-quality service and stellar cuisine, has several dreamy spots to say “I do,” with its ocean-view terraces, sculpture garden, ballrooms, and lovely La Isla—a grassy elevated peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, spacious enough for a grand tent and festive reception. Using the private marina, a bride and groom can arrive or depart by yacht, and the stylish hotel is a perfect retreat for guests. hotelcoral.com

Cuatro Cuatros

If a rustic wedding in nature sounds appealing, this sprawling property has a platform deck on top of a mountain with awe-inspiring views of the Pacific and wine country below. Old-growth trees, crop circle vineyards, old fishing vessels propped into the earth, and Out of Africa-style platform tents make for unforgettable photos in this truly unique setting.

cuatrocuatros.mx

The Best of Ensenada

La Isla at Hotel Coral

Gorgeous Guadalupe Valley Venues to Tie the Knot

Need help planning? Contact destination weddings coordinator Lupita Cordero, lupitacorderobodas.com.

 

Calendar of Events

The Best of Ensenada

Vendimia Wine Harvest Festival

JULY

06

Fifth Annual Oriental Food Festival

Local restaurants offer Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine

Location: Civic Plaza

Time: noon to 11 p.m.

12

Rincón de Guadalupe Paella

Paellas contest

Location: Vinícola Rincón de Guadalupe

Time: noon to 8 p.m.

Cost: 400 pesos

Pepe Aguilar in Concert

Location: Coral y Marina Hotel

Time: 8 p.m.

Susana Zabaleta Show

Location: Estero Beach

Time: 4 p.m.

Cost: 720-1520 pesos

19

Filarmónica Rock in Concert

Location: Bodegas de Santo Tomás San Gabriel Vineyards

Time: 4 p.m.

Cost: 450-950 pesos

The Best of Ensenada

Filarmonica Rock in Concert

Valle Sunset

Pop music group Belanova plays live

Location: L.A. Cetto Vineyards

Time: 4 p.m.

AUGUST

01–17

Vendimia

The 21st annual Wine Harvest Festival, with wine tastings, culinary competitions, concerts, and art exhibitions throughout Ensenada and the valleys

02–03

Nativa 2014

A festival dedicated to the culture and heritage of Baja California Indigenous groups

Location: Ventana al Mar Plaza

Time: 10 a.m.

The Best of Ensenada

Nativa 2014

04

Ensenada Dresses Up in Wine Culinary Festival

Baja California wineries and restaurants participate in a gastronomic fair

Location: Ruíz Avenue between

First and Second Streets

Time: noon to 9 p.m.

07

Street Fiesta

Free entrance, live music, art, and more

Location: Cearte Arts

Center Ensenada

Time: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

09

Santo Tomás Verbena

Popular free festival with wine, food, arts and crafts, and several stages for rock, classical music, and dance

Location: Bodegas Santo Tomás

10

Third Annual Cheese, Bread and Wine Festival

Live music, wine, cheese and artisan bread

Location: L.A. Cetto

Cost: 280 pesos

30

Alejandro Fernández “Confidencias World Tour” Concert

Location: El Cielo Vineyard

Cost: 1400-3400 pesos

 

Guadalupe Valley: Wine Country Paradise

The Best of Ensenada

Guadalupe Valley

After exploring the port city of Ensenada, take the easy 20-minute drive along Highway 3, La Ruta del Vino, to Baja California’s prized wine country, Guadalupe Valley. This enchanted valley, a pretty patchwork of farmlands and vineyards, has caught the attention of the world for its outstanding farm-fresh cuisine, charming wineries, and unique boutique hotels. Empty dusty roads lead to hidden haciendas, eco-friendly architecture, and al fresco eateries with mind-blowing views. Surprises appear at every turn.

Taste the Terroir

Home to approximately 100 thriving wineries, Guadalupe Valley is blessed with a Mediterranean-like climate, varying soils and geography that allow for successful varietals like Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, and Tempranillo. Here are just a few of the many places to visit.

The Best of Ensenada

Monte Xanic

Start at the Madera 5/Cava Aragón 126 (Km 104, Highway 3) tasting room to sample their beautiful red blends, like the Madera 5 Tempranillo-Cabernet 2012, aromatic with blackberry, violet and hints of wood. At Sol y Barro (Km 87, Highway 3), Swiss-born designer, chef and winemaker Aime Desponds has created his own artistic paradise. In his “cob”—a clay, curved-wall cellar house—you can taste his two delicious reds, a friendly Grenache-Cab blend (Sol y Tierra) and a dignified Barbera Nebbiolo.

Desponds also serves homemade sausages and Swiss tapas. Another fetching and artistic winery, Hacienda La Lomita (Comunidad de San Marcos, Fracc. 13), exudes great style in everything it does, from its art-filled tasting room and eye-catching wine labels to its state-of-the-art wine cellar, artisanal products, and delectable wine. Sip sophisticated Cabernets, Merlots, and Malbecs by a pretty lake at Monte Xanic (Francisco Zarco), the esteemed vineyard that produces some of Mexico’s finest wines. Eco-friendly Las Nubes Winery (Callejon Emiliano Zapata) sits nobly on the hill, offering lovely views from the glass-encased tasting room and a chance to taste enologist Victor Segura’s floral whites and exquisite reds. Other notable vineyards include Vinas de Garza , Chateâu Camou, Bibayoff, Domecq, Adobe Guadalupe, and Baron Balché, to name but a few.

Stay

The Best of Ensenada

Villa del Valle

La Villa del Valle: A six-bedroom Tuscan villa anchors this stunning estate with lake, yoga studio, mod pool, lavender fields, superb restaurant, and vegetable gardens. The winery, Vena Cava, is another striking set, with upside-down recycled fishing boats jutting from the hillside, used as roofs for the wine cellar and tasting room. lavilladelvalle.com

Encuentro: Eco-friendly cabins planted on stilts sit high on a boulder-dotted hill offering fabulous views of the valley at this “anti-resort,” whose mission is to integrate guests with nature and local culture. The expansive property has an infinity pool dripping off the hillside, orchards and vegetable gardens for chef Flor Franco’s farm-fresh cuisine, a network of trails for hikes with naturalists, kivas on the cabin-side decks for fireside relaxation, plus great wines produced by legendary winemaker Hugo D’Acosta. encuentroguadalupe.com

The Best of Ensenada

Encuentro

Hacienda Guadalupe: Nestled into wine country, this peaceful colonial-style hotel proffers 12 rooms, a waterfall pool, hot tub, onsite vineyards, manicured gardens, and sweeping vineyard and mountain views. Guest can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, massages and wine tasting. haciendaguadalupehotel.com

Eat

Laja: This charming cottage, surrounded by gardens bursting with produce, enchants as an idyllic country outpost for a leisurely lunch between vineyard stops. Former Four Seasons chef Jair Téllez and respected enologist Andrés Blanco pair progressive cuisine with local wines, earning Laja the nickname of the “French Laundry of the Valley.” lajamexico.com

The Best of Ensenada

The Best of Ensenada

Luis :Garcia

Finca Altozano: Renowned chef Javier Plascencia opened this seasonal, rustic eatery that overlooks the family’s vineyards. At this al fresco eatery, where understated style meets brilliant cuisine, time slows and a midday lunch unfolds into the late afternoon. Plascencia makes magic with meats grilled over a mesquite-wood fire and local produce—think ahi tostadas, beef-cheek tacos, Caesar salads, tuna ceviche, and more. fincaltozano.com

Corazón de Tierra: Chef Diego Hernandez pulls produce fresh from the ground right outside his kitchen at this vanguard restaurant at La Villa del Valle. Set in a glass-box terrarium with lovely garden views, diners enjoy Hernandez’s culinary whims based on seasonal fare and fresh catch in nightly four-course, prix-fixe meals with wine pairings. Plates may include scallop sashimi with arugula, pan-roasted duck over white bean purée, or chocolate clam soup with smoked bread. lavilladelvalle.com

The gastronomic adventure never ends in Guadalupe Valley.

FUN FACT
During the month of August, Fiestas de la Vendimia celebrates the harvest with special dinners, performances, parties, and concerts throughout Ensenada and the wine valleys.

 

What’s New in Guadalupe Valley

Award-winning wines, superb cuisine, and striking settings further elevate the wine-country experience.

The Best of Ensenada

El Cielo

El Cielo

Gustavo Ortega and wife Daly Negrón have created a little slice of heaven in Guadalupe Valley with their magnificent winery, El Cielo. The expansive 71-acre property has 54 planted acres and 12 grape varietals, along with olive trees, an organic garden, and fruit plantation. The couple, former hoteliers who planned to retire, now command this dynamic project, which includes producing fine wines with revered oenologist Jesus Rivera using state-of-the-art Italian presses; overseeing Latittude 32 Steakhouse, helmed by respected chef Ryan Steyan; hosting a wine club; and festive events. Future plans include a boutique hotel with 58 luxe suites incorporating fireplaces and private hot tubs, along with a year-round spa. The stellar, award-winning wines are named after astronomers and constellations; their Capricornius was named Best Chardonnay in Mexico in 2013 by La Guía Catadores. Be sure to taste Orion, a flirty blend of Tempranillo and Grenache, or Perseus, a successful marriage of Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, tempered in French oak. vinoselcielo.com

Encuentro

This summer, chef Flor Franco launches two exciting culinary concepts at Encuentro. Convivia will be modeled after an 1800s cantina, “a playground for the valley people to go to after work to celebrate along with the guests,” relays Flor. “Encuentro means encounter, and my vision for Encuentro Guadalupe is a place where guests can encounter the nature of Baja with all their senses.” Convivia will feature affordable small plates, an oyster bar, Latin-Japanese fusion, garden-fresh produce, the best seafood, fine mezcals and tequilas, house wine by Hugo D’Acosta, and a house craft beer created by oenologist Alvaro Alvarez from AlXimia Winery. Encuentro architect Jorge Garcia will redesign the downstairs cave area, integrating a new bar and lounge with the giant boulders, and create a terrace space for al fresco dining and valley views. Franco has also enlisted Snake Oil Cocktail Company from San Diego to be part of the dream team. Secondly, Franco will present Resguardo, a nine- to 12-course tasting menu served high up on the hill by the resort’s stunning infinity pool at dusk. “I plan to build an experience, not just another restaurant,” she says. encuentroguadalupe.com

The Best of Ensenada

Roberto Alcocer

Malva Cocina de Baja California

At this fantastic rustic eatery, nestled into the hillside of San Antonio de las Minas, chef Roberto Alcocer has created a foodie paradise. Guests relax under a giant palapa enjoying artistic plates of inspired farm-to-table cuisine from the outdoor kitchen. Alcocer partnered with winemaker Verónica Santiago, and the house wine, Julio 14, is a friendly blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Alcocer forages for ingredients like wild radish, wild fennel, wild arugula, and nasturtium, along with making his own butter, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream and raising his own lambs, goats, chickens, and ducks. It’s easy to love everything about this place as Alcocer succeeds in his goal of making high-quality, fresh food at reasonable prices. Km 96, Carr. Ensenada-Tecate.

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