Ensenada in Baja California is becoming increasingly popular between cruise ports and tourists alike. The warm tropical climate and perfect growing conditions make this a hotspot for winemakers and wine lovers.
Not only that what pairs well with great Mexican food? Wine of course!
Let’s take a look at the deep history that lives in these valleys to contribute to the culture of Mexico’s wine country.
Many European colonizers are credited with starting the first vineyards in these lush valleys. For this exercise, I'm going to give it to Juan de Ugarte who planted some first grapes in the Baja California area. He may have introduced Spanish fruits to these lands, but the Cochimi were the ones who “developed a Fairly complex agricultural system”. These practices plus the great climate and beautiful weather create the perfect ecosystem for ingredients to thrive. When the Russian influence covered this area, most of these grapes were used to make brandy. Soon however they got into winemaking. Not only did they bring fancy grapes, but the Russian settlers also brought Mediterranean food to the valley.
Ensenada became more of a tourist destination in the 1990s when winemakers across the region start at the annual grape harvest fiestas in August every year. As a quick day trip from San Diego, it's a great location for Southern California weekend getaways or a port day on a cruise ship.
You may know that Valle de Guadalupe produces 90% of all Mexican wines. Most of these wineries are family-owned businesses. The grapes best known to grow in this environment are Petite Sirah and Malbec, but there is plenty of variety for everyone. This makes for a multitude of flavors and tastes suitable for anyone's liking. The reds from this region are full-bodied, with fruity tastes and a bite of saltiness at the end. The whites are sweet and crisp, with rich history and unique taste.
Whether you’re in Ensenada for a day or for a week, these 10 wineries will give you an in-depth look at the history of the valleys and a good time for wine connoisseurs everywhere.
$$ (646) 178 3333
Av. Miramar 666 Downtown area. Ensenada, Baja California.
Cava Miramar, in Ensenada, is just one of three Bodegas de Santo Tomas locations but holds the title for the oldest winery in the Baja region. The first vineyards were planted in 1791 at the Misión de Santo Tomás de Aquino. When the winery went commercial, they chose a name to pay tribute to its historical past. The city’s winery takes the top spot for TripAdvisor’s #1 Thing to do in Ensenada. A lot of tourists come to this spot to enjoy the wines, food, and sights of the city.
Officially established in 1888, the winery itself lives in the Valle de Santo Tomás instead of the Valle de Guadalupe, like a lot of local wineries are located. Its southern location has a cooler climate, which lengthens the ripening period of the grapes. This leads to 130 years of great wine and incredible service.
$$$ 52 646 155 2094
Parcela A-1 S/N, Valle de Guadalupe
22750, Ensenada, Baja California, MX
Established in 1997, Adobe Guadalupe’s beautiful architecture attracts tourists and locals alike for premium wine tastings and reservations for an exquisite dinner and their sit-in dining room. If you're still hungry but not looking for a full meal, you can always visit their on-site food truck which offers sandwiches, salads, and tapas. Make sure to take a look at their pomegranate and olive tree gardens as well as the rows and rows of grapevines
The Vineyards are also very proud of their Azteca horses. These incredible Sporthorses compete and win International competitions. Read from an American Quarter Horse and An Andalusian stallion, the Azteca sport horse is known for its incredible jumping and eventing skills. They are extremely intelligent, safe, and beautiful animals.
Adobe Guadalupe is also dedicated to making your stay in Baja California the most memorable one yet. They offer lodging in their beautiful hacienda, up to 2 people in a room. The complimentary wine tasting and full breakfast are included with their packages.
$ 52 646 156 5267
Av. Cerrada Cerro Gordo No. Exterior: 270. El Campestre. 37150
The founding pioneer of winemaking in Baja California was a man named Hugo D’ Acosta. No, as this family-inspired project grew and after 25 years, Casa de Piedra still going strong with unique wines that are characterized by their origin (“Casa de Piedra”). Vino de Piedra almost has a salty taste to it.
In this exclusive interview by Around the World in 80 Harvests, Amanda Barnes is with the man himself. D’ Acosta explains that it’s a staple of the location. Being very close to the ocean gives the wine a very rich historical marine essence and soil of the land it was created on is embedded in the flavor. The soil itself is composed of “ loamy clay, Rocky granite, Kimmeridgian [a mix of limestone and clay], and rich alluvial,” (Solomon). He embraces the natural essence of Baja California and the lush Mediterranean climate in all of their wines.
Casa de Piedra owns several vineyards in three separate locations. One is in the Valle de Guadalupe, in which they grow Cabernet Sauvignon and host their Tempranillo vineyard.
$$ +52 646 688 1032
22984 Baja California, Mexico
The name itself is a tribute to the Mayan ancestry. A “balche” tree bore fruits that were fermented by the Mayans and were given to the highest ranks. Juan Rios rebuilt these Vineyards in 1997 with only a dream of becoming a better winemaker.
Not only did he strengthen its relationships with local experts, but he also built his recipes from the ground up. By 2001, Baron’s first 5 signature wines were unveiled. Now with 18 labels available, the family built business is a hot spot for tourists around the world. The winery also has a restaurant and an upcoming hotel on the property.
The tour without the tasting is 100 pesos per person which comes out to about $4 USD. The cheese boards are about $17 USD and serve four. They have a variety of wine tasting packages from $190 pesos ($9 USD) for 3 wines to $900 pesos ($43 USD) to try four specialty Balche wines.
+52 (646) 177 33 03
Domicilio Conocido s/n, 22785 Valle de Guadalupe, B.C., Mexico
Fernando Favela Lozoya founded the beginnings of this vineyard in 1993 on the very lands that originally housed the Mission of our Lady Guadalupe. As an accomplished engineering professor, Lozoya had built up the resources to fund a lifelong dream. His son, Fernando Favela Vara lived up to more than his dreams when he produced a modern winery within the area where other winemakers were establishing their grounds. Now titled as the Founder and CEO of Château Camou, Fernando continues the mission to make incredible Mexican wines en el Valle de Guadalupe.
An all around businessman and innovator, Fernando was President of the Ensenada Winegrowers Association, National Vice-President of the National Association of Winegrowers (today Viniculture Council of Mexico).
The first wine revealed was the 1995 Fumé Blanc. Within the next few years, complex-flavored wines poured out. Since their opening, each one of their wines has had at least one showstopping award, with the majority of them having multiple. Sergio Heras has been their winemaker since 2015 and has no intention of getting out of the business.
Their website has detailed information about each of their wines, their flavors, and what pairs well with each one. Make sure to check out their website before visiting them in the valley.
$ +52 646 155 2179
Km 73.5 carretera Tecate – El Sauzal, 22750 Valle de Guadalupe, B.C., Mexico
As the biggest wine producer in Mexico, L.A. Cetto has multiple wine boutiques located in Tijuana, Mexico City, and Ensenada. The main cellar is located in the Valle de Guadalupe, with intricate dining and tasting rooms, you’re sure to have a royal experience.
This winery is named after Don Angelo Cetto, the founder who began his Baja California wine journey in 1928. Cetto first owned a local wine bar near Tijuana. During prohibition, his business flourished.
By 1934, Sr. Angelo was buying up vineyards from Russian families. His son, Luis Agustin Cetto followed in his footsteps by cultivating the first of many fine grapes. Production really took off in the late 60s and by 1972, they celebrated their first export to Los Angeles, California. This is also the year they lost Sr. Don Angelo Cetto.
His legacy lives on as 13 years later, export of their wines reach Europe, the United States, and Canada. Now, six years away from their centennial, L.A. Cetto wines are still characterized by the Italian traditions of one Don Angelo Cetto.
$ +52 (646) 155-3281
Carr. Tecate – Ens Km 93,
Sn. Ant. de las Minas 22766
Ensenada BC Mexico
“El Vino Fino de México”. With a name meaning ‘the fine wine’ of Mexico, you can expect high-quality wines and spirits. Starting in San Antonio de las Minas, just around the mountain north of Ensenada, Eduardo Liceaga established his winery in 1982. The wine itself didn’t come until the mid-nineties when his Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc grapes were harvested.
Now, producing 5,000 cases a year, Vina de Liceaga is an established winery with great wines and even more heart.
Right near the beginning of la Ruta del Vino, this hacienda-style winery is a hot spot for oenophiles everywhere. Tours of the cellars, vineyards, and gardens are all available with reservations by phone.