Once through Tecate, it’s an easy drive on “La Ruta del Vino” (The Wine Route, Mexico Highway 3) to the Valle de Guadalupe. And with more than 150 wineries in the valley, there’s plenty to savor for many road trips.
On this road trip, we stayed in the north part of the valley, at the architectural wonder Agua de Vid. The boutique hotel is one of those places that is so creative with their use of materials, I’m taking pictures of everything to use as examples for what I can do with all that piling junk in my backyard.
They know what to do with materials, from the metal containers turned into private bungalows, the woodpile walls, and the random car part sculpture, Agua de Vid keeps your eyes and camera active.
When you wine, you must dine, and we started off with a delicious four-course lunch at Once Pueblos. Chef Sandra Vazquez brings out the flavors from her Michoacan home using local Baja ingredients.
The Mahi Mahi with avocado puree and mashed fava beans, plus the tamale pork tower were my favorites. On the hilltop property, we tasted wines from the adjoining Sierra Vita winery, as we were in awe of the 360-degree views of the valley.
But when you take a road trip to the Valle de Guadalupe, you’ve got to visit more than one winery. Now, I’m not even close to being a wine connoisseur, but the beauty of wine tasting is to experience the different flavors and discovering what you like. A bonus is that so many of the Valle wineries are built to be destinations, with glass in hand, you really want to sit awhile and enjoy taking time to wine.
Some of those winery destinations we visited:
• Clos de Tres Cantos – Architect Alejandro D’Acosta designed rooms that felt like I was going to church.
The light coming through the colorful wine bottles used as windows brought that talk in whispers-only feeling while we were in the cave-like room with scattered boulders along the walls.
And they take special care with their wines, focusing on grapes that will adapt better to climate change: Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Syrah and Tempranillo.
• Finca la Carrodilla – Go upstairs to their lovely upstairs garden, with a view of the surrounding vineyards. Their wines are certified organic, and we particularly enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon. And if you like animals, the winery cats and dogs are very calm and friendly.
• Adobe Guadalupe – A grand haciend-styled winery and inn, you feel transported to another time and place (maybe you recognize it from Fear the Walking Dead). They have a nice tasting room and gift shop, featuring their wines and other related goods.
You can dine al fresco with snacks from their Adobe Food Truck, and view the scenic 60 acres of vines. There is also an Azteca Breeding and Training Center onsite.
One thing we learned is that 90 percent of the wines produced in the Valle de Guadalupe stay in and are served in Mexico. So, if you find something that you like, buy a bottle. Generally, there’s no federal limit on bringing back wine for “personal” use, but a rule of thumb is about one case – filling up your trunk with wine may draw some suspicions.
Getting back to Agua da Vid after an afternoon of wine-filled glasses, our container-turned-bungalow was a peaceful place for an afternoon siesta prior to dinner at the onsite Restaurante Pancracia.
We continued dining on delicious delights such as regional cheeses, beet salad with goat cheese, mackerel with a beurre blanc lemon sauce, and spiced chocolate pannacotta with rice pudding ice cream. The following morning, we ate a leisurely brunch – I always enjoy my chilaquiles verdes with farm fresh eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice.
The restaurant is on the bottom level of a three-story open-air building, which also houses the reception desk and bars, including the third level where DJs and bands perform, and a not-so-private pool, but a nice area for looking at the evening stars. Agua de Vid has recently opened the hostel area – tent glamping ranging from 10 bunk beds for the backpacker type to some with two double beds good for families.
The open fire pits make it the perfect place to spend the evening singing songs around the campfire and sharing a bottle of wine. Salud.
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