The pioneering wine country of Valle de Guadalupe.
I raved about Expedition Baja last year in my ‘From Potholes to Paradise’ post and I’m going to repeat myself because this year’s trip miraculously topped my last experience.
Four Stops. Twelve Hours. 83 Miles from San Diego.
We left San Diego at 8 a.m. to embark on a full day of world-class wine and food with Fernando, owner and operator of Baja Wine + Food. Fernando’s tour, Expedition Baja, is part of the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. However, as a cross-border lifestyle management company, they offer customized tours year-round. Fernando’s efforts through Baja Wine + Food have brought much-needed attention to Valle de Guadalupe ‘the Valle’ and the growing wine and gastronomy culture in the region. Fewer than 10 years ago, the food scene in the Valle had hardly developed. Now, both Michelin-starred chefs and ambitious young all-stars have created a culinary scene that is being showcased in high-profile editorials such as Sunset magazine and of course…my little blog.
I knew we entered the Valle once we hit the dirt roads that led to remarkable views and extraordinary architecture. As I have said in my ‘From Potholes to Paradise’ post, words cannot truly describe the wondrous nature of Valle de Guadalupe’s wine community, hospitality, and pioneering attitude. This is year-over-year my most highly recommended trip in the world, and it needs to be experienced first-hand.
If you want to immerse yourself in a cross-border exploration with some of the most esteemed wineries and culinary experiences found in Baja, I recommend contacting Fernando Gaxiola of Baja Wine + Food. He can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.
All photos are either my own or taken by the incredibly talented Edgar Lima as noted.
My 100 percent Expedition Baja experiences in 2017:
Exploring Encuentro, Valle de Guadalupe
You can’t explain Encuentro Guadalupe in one breath. I would take five minutes of your time just bragging about its unique architecture. Encuentro is situated on the mountainside and encourages guests to be in contact with nature, respect the environment, and enjoy the landscape of the Valle. Encuentro is all of the things: a winery, sustainable restaurant, and eco-loft hotel complete with infinity pools and a ranch. We had the opportunity to tour the lofts, wine cellar, and infinity pool. In addition, we had a blind tasting of several local selections with breathtaking views of the Valle from the patio. I left Encuentro with two resolutions:
- I must be proposed to inside the secret tree space in the cellar
- I must come back to stay the night and actually swim in the infinity pool
Dining at Deckman’s en el Mogor, Valle de Guadalupe
Lunch time! We had the honor of eating at Deckman’s and experienced the slow food movement first-hand as Michelin-starred chef Drew Deckman showed us what he means by ‘bringing the table to the farm’. Wine, vegetables, herbs, lamb, olive oil, and eggs are estate-grown or produced locally on the Mogor Ranch, unless otherwise noted. We experienced multiple shell-fish dishes sustainably curated from the Baja Peninsula. They also do not offer commercial bottled waters or soft drinks and re-capture waste water to use for irrigation to be as sustainable as possible. Very impressive work coming out of a 100 percent outdoor, open-air kitchen and a gorgeous al-fresco dining concept.
Sunset at Bruma, Valle de Guadalupe
The focal point of Bruma winery is a 300-year-old oak tree, which on the outside looks like something from an episode of Stranger Things, but far more beautiful. The tree actually extends underground into the cellar where multiple barrels and boxes are stored. The mirror lake around the oak tree not only provides the perfect sunset reflection but also naturally regulates the temperature of the cellar underneath. Maintaining the sustainable theme, Bruma winery was built using recycled local materials and much of the landscape was created by relocating existing plants. We tasted multiple wines as the golden hour engulfed the Valle.
Delighted by David Castro Hussong at Fauna, Valle de Guadalupe
A last-minute change of plans had us dining at Bruma’s new restaurant Fauna with the acclaimed all-star chef David Castro Hussong at the helm. The communal table stretched out across the dining room with sheepskin throws on every chair. We were greeted with eight courses – primarily seafood-based – and local wines throughout the evening. I felt completely spoiled and was so indulged I barely took any notes, but can confirm it was yet again one of the best meals I have experienced. After dinner, we journeyed back to San Diego, many of us asleep in the van with stomachs, hearts and minds contented.
Thank you again to Fernando and his team for another great year exploring the iconic wine country of Valle de Guadalupe. Can’t wait to come back!
This is a handsome life.