An insider's guide to the Guadalupe Valley in Baja with Let's Go Clandestino
Happy almost weekend, Cakies! Show of hands, who loves a little fall adventure on an October weekend? Um, yes please! This trip isn’t your typical fall recommendation, but if you’re here in Southern California (or you’re up for a quick flight into San Diego or Tijuana), fall is the absolute perfect time to visit this spectacular little wine region in Baja, known as the Guadalupe Valley. You guys… it’s just so incredibly rustic and lovely and special. If we could possibly sum it on in a few words, which isn’t easy! Jillian and I (this is Kristina writing BTW. hi!) took a quick trip down from LA with Let’s Go Clandestino a few months ago and we have the photos from our friends Jamie Street and Angie Ollman, along with an insider’s guide to your first trip! Keep on reading if you want the scoop. Which, like… YES YOU DO.
First let’s start with getting to Baja. Yes, you can absolutely drive there. Do a little research, buy the insurance online, make sure you have directions and a driver and passengers who are comfortable with a little adventure. The way down is a breeze, navigating the border crossing on the way back is a little more complicated but definitely do-able if it’s within your comfort zone. HOWEVER, can I tell you how wonderful it was to just sit back and relax and let a very capable and experienced guide do all the thinking and driving? Which is naturally where Angel of Let’s Go Clandestino comes in. He runs custom trips down that way whenever you like. He knows the Valle inside and out and will be sure that your trip fits exactly your groups’ needs. Can’t recommend him enough if you’d rather make it simple or you’re not comfortable driving across the border on your own.
Next let’s get to the fun party, shall we? All credit goes to Angel for this insanely good day of drinking and eating and just *being* in such a beautiful and remote place. We were lucky to have excellent company in Jamie, Angie, Jessica (insert house-lust here), and Katie (Angel’s wife). And company makes all the difference when you start drinking red wine at 10AM. We’ll list our itinerary here but there’s a full guide at the bottom of this post too.
Such a spectacular spot for lunch!
Next we stopped at Vena Cava, one of the first vineyards and wineries in the Valle. We learned from the owner and winemaker, Phil, that one of the most special parts of this place is the freedom that comes from starting something new in an undiscovered spot. When he and his wife came to Guadalupe Valley almost two decades ago they were pioneers. And that spirit has stuck with the winemakers and chefs that have made this place home. No expectations = extra room for creativity and experimentation and that has led to some extraordinarily interesting wines and culinary experiences in this part of Mexico.
Also the tasting room is an upside down boat. Not sure about you, but definitely a first for me!
Vena Cava also happens to be owned by the same lovely couple who owns La Villa del Valle, a beautiful 6 room bed and breakfast perched on a hill with a pool and gorgeous grounds and exceptional restaurant.
Hiiiiieeeee! Just Jillian and I playing hooky from life for the day.
PS. they dry their own lavender and make natural body products. Jazz hands!
The restaurant, Corazon de Tierra, has an expansive and inspiring garden when they grow all of their produce for their beautiful cuisine.
Each dish was so lovingly and exceptionally prepared. It was hard to mess up the plates with our forks!
Heart cacti are a thing here, apparently.
Our final stop was the super modern, super beautiful Encuentro Guadalupe. Those pods on the hill are the rooms, and they overlook the entire valley. It’s really so secluded and lovely. Also there’s a stunning pool and amazing food. Oh AND, they do weddings. So you know, definitely up for consideration in the destination wedding category!
Not a bad view, eh? It was breath-taking. And we’d go back ANY DAY.
Don’t you want to cozy up there for cool fall nights?! Would be suuuuch a gorgeous, romantic trip for two.
The entire property was built into the existing landscape, as opposed to over it. The large villa (above) has a bedroom with an enormous boulder *inside* the room. It’s really just about the most beautiful place.
Really the entire valley, and every place we visited was stunning. If you’re into rustic desert-y places with amazing wine and food. Plus the company that day was about as good as it gets!
Here’s a quick 411 on some of Angel’s top picks in the Valle for your travel files:
Places to eat:
Malva and Mina Penelope
Corazon de Tierra at La Villa Del Valle
Deckmans En El Mogor (Michelin star chef Drew Deckman)
Laja (the original farm to table restaurant in Baja)
Ochentos Pizza (nothing fancy but a locals favorite for wood fired pizza) and it has a brewery El Chivo Gruñon
Hope you add this hidden gem to you travel list. And be sure to call Angel when you’re ready to book your trip!
PS. The Venue Report has a list of lots more special event spots in Baja and the Guadalupe Valley if you’re interested in learning more for a wedding!