While Mexico is well known for its Tequilla there is a region of Baja California (Norte) now becoming known for its vineyards and consequently great wines. The increasingly famous Wine Route or Ruta del Vino as it is known is located in the Valle del Guadalupe on highway 3, between the cities of Tecate and Ensenada in Baja California and has recently been nicknamed the “Napa Valley of Mexico”. Not to be confused by the Antigua Ruta de Vino (Old Wine Route) south of Ensenada in the Valle Santo Tomas. Actually both of these areas have grown immensely in vineyards and production of wines in the last 10 years. The Ruta del Vino has over 50 wineries that supply up to 90% of the wine consumed in Mexico.
While Mexicans don’t drink near as much wine as Americans, it is a fast growing market along with exportation as many of these wineries now producing wines similar in quality of those produced in Napa California. With its Mediterranean climate the Ruta del Vino has seen a great influx of wineries from world renowned like La Cetto, the largest of Mexico and Domeq the second largest in Mexico, to the small boutique wineries such as Monte Xanic and Encuentro Guadalupe that is a unique hotel as well.
The Ruta del Vino is on highway 3 only 40 kilometers from Ensenada and 100km from Tijuana so it can be explored as a day trip from these areas or you may wish to stay in any variety of hotels or RV parks in the Guadalupe Valle area. There is also a secondary wine route (ruta del vino) located near the small town of San Antonio de las Minas and exits at the town of Francisco Zarco. This smaller additional wine route will take you by an additional 10 wineries, restaurants, hotels, B&B’s and museums along with many picturesque vineyards. You can see on the map that the Ruta del Vino has been divided into 4 different circuits, 2 of which make up the smaller route to the north west and one to the upper north east of highway 3. It may take days to see it all if you are planning on wine tasting your way through the area by visiting all of the wineries. There are tours available in most of the wineries and several companies that offer guided bus tours through the area.
In addition to the vineyards and wineries you will see many galleries, artesian shops, restaurants, cafes and a wonderful new museum of wine. The Museum or Museo de la Vid y el Vino was founded in August of 2012 and has a great display of wine making techniques along with the history of winemaking in Valle Guadalupe. At this time the displays and video in the museum are in Spanish but most of the information is easily understood and very informative even if you do not speak Spanish. There is a great collection of machinery new and old used in the winemaking process including wine presses, barrels, and bottling, labeling and corking methods. The Museum also has is a great venue for events with the entire upstairs dedicated to this purpose with a beautiful view overlooking the vineyards.
Probably the best time of year to visit the Guadalupe valley and tour the Ruta del Vino is during the harvest month of August while the wineries host their “Fiesta de la Venimia” celebrating their harvest. It is at this time of year when the grapes are picked and the grape crushing begins for the making of new wines. However at anytime of the year you will find an agreeable Mediterranean climate and the wonderful hospitality of those that live and work in the wine industry. So plan a trip into the Ruta del Vino of Baja California and experience some of the old and new world of the Wines of Mexico.