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The Wonders of Wine Country

Ensenada's Ruta del Vino (Highway 3) is a portal to a wine-country paradise where you'll discover more than 100 vineyards, each with a unique story to tell. The valley's Mediterranean climate, with warm days and cool nights, its close proximity to the sea, and varied terroir make it an idyllic spot to grow grapes. Here is just a small sample of the many vibrant vineyards to visit.

El Cielo

This sprawling property, owned by Gustavo Ortega and Daly Negron, hosts a state-of-the-art winery where oenologist Jesus Rivera makes awardwinning wines named for constellations and astronomers. Try the Galileo2012, 100 percent Tempranillo aged in new French oak, or the notable Capricornius 2012, a golden 100-percent Chardonnay with floral and butter notes. Exquisite gardens, grand green lawns, and fruit-filled orchards make it an ideal spot for weddings in a vineyard and olive-tree setting with mountain views. Marc Anthony performs at El Cielo on August 22 during Fiestas de la Vendimia.

Adobe Guadalupe

Persian architecture, purebred horses, sprawling gardens, and distinguished wines—what’s not to love about Tru Miller’s little paradise? Winemaker Daniel Lonnberg has garnered respect for his Archangel wines. His Kerubiel, a well-balanced blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourverdre, aged in French and American oak, is redolent of blackberry, cherry, and raspberry, with a nice long finish. Rafael, a complex red that marries Cabernet with Nebbiolo, boasts notes of dark fruit, cinnamon, and white pepper, along with subtle toffee and caramel from its barrel aging.

Las Nubes

Perched high on the hill, the red-roofed and stone Las Nubes Winery is an eco-friendly striking spread with its glassencased tasting room, expansive patio, and lofty valley views. Enologist Victor Segura produces eight wines—fine floral whites and sophisticated reds like his Cumulus Reserve, a Grenache, Carignane, and Tempranillo blend. Look for the release of his Petite Sirah and Grand Reserve Nebbiolo this August.

Santo Tomás

While Baja’s oldest winery lies to the south of Ensenada, a satellite tasting room and winery can be found in Guadalupe Valley. The unique tour strays from the typical with a short film, and artistic touches abound; the chic tasting room feels like a colorful gallery. Santo Tomás makes a wide variety of wines, from Viognier to Ruby Cabernet, and offers cheese, olive oil, ceviche, and chocolate tastings/ pairings and barbecues for big groups.

Viñas De Garza

This beautiful boutique winery, owned by Amado and Ana Garza, is known for its high-quality wines and bougainvillea-filled setting. After tasting the impressive lineup, spend an afternoon on the deck sipping a bottle of El Sombrero, a fruit-forward Cabernet, Merlot, and Tempranillo blend with notes of spice and wood. Bring a picnic or grab some gourmet cheese and bread sold on site and enjoy the endless views.

Clos De Tres Cantros

This glorious boutique winery feels like a modern monastery, with thoughtful architecture by Alejandro d’Acosta and vision by owners María Benítez Cantarero and Joaquin Moya Cussi. Mayan-influenced pyramids house the production facilities. The barrel room enchants as a sacred space with its altar, high ceiling, old family paintings, and natural stone. A philosopher at heart, Joaquin honors his passion with wine names like Nada, a lovely Tempranillo and Petite Sirah blend with aromas of cherries, fresh prunes, and spice, or Resilencia, a seductive Petite Sirah redolent of blueberries, vanilla, tobacco, and chocolate. The wines and space are equally brilliant.

Vena Cava

Phil and Eileen Gregory’s exceptional winery at La Villa de Valle is a sight to behold after traveling up the twisty dusty road to this eye-popping retreat. Lavender fields, vineyards, and vegetable gardens surround the Tuscan-style villa, and the winery, whose vaulted ceilings are made from upside-down recycled fishing boats, sits next to a picturesque lake. Beyond the breathtaking setting, Gregory’s wines have achieved international acclaim, garnering awards for his Big Blend and Tempranillo 2012. Be sure not to miss the effervescent and flirty Extra Brut Rosé.

The Old Wine Route

The southern wine country has three valleys, and La Grulla and Santo Tomás are considered to have the oldest history of winemaking in Ensenada. Many wineries from Guadalupe Valley buy grapes from these vineyards located to the south. In La Grulla Valley, visit Viñedos Palafox and Manuel Delgado. In Santo Tomás Valley, explore Bodegas de Santo Tomás and Viñedos Villarino. In San Vicente Valley taste the terroir at Rincón de Guadalupe and Cavas del Moro.

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The Wonders of Wine Country

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