Living in Southern California is definitely a privilege. Awesome weather, a diverse array of cuisine, and of course, access to some of the best wine in the world.
However, I never realized that Mexico had its own wine country as well! I guess I always assumed the weather there wasn’t quite right for producing quality grapes. Luckily, my friend Ian Blackburn (wine educator at Learn About Wine) knew better and gave me some tips on the region and where to stay. He highly recommended Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards and Inn, nestled in the Valle de Guadalupe (Valley of Guadalupe), just 14 miles (20 kilometers) north of Ensenada, Baja California.
After two hours of breathtaking coastline, goosebump-raising mountain curves, and expansive golden fields, I turned off the main road and drove slowly up the bronze-dusted path lined with bushes sprouting vivid purple and pink flowers. Wrought iron horse sculptures greeted me the closer I got to the entrance. A kind security guard opened the gate and showed me where to park (free parking whoo hoo!). I stepped out of the car (more like slid out since my legs refused to obey), and stretched my angry limbs. It was then I allowed myself to really gaze upon the property. Excuse me, did the website say inn? This was a massive estate, a real hacienda. The cool points increased exponentially as I crossed the rectangular courtyard on the way to the main office. A large stone fountain occupied the center, surrounded by palm trees, manicured bushes and potted, succulent plants. I could already tell that this would be my main hangout spot.
At check in, I was greeted warmly by the management and led to my room to unload and relax for a bit. It really felt unique; the high ceilings, windows, and wicker and iron furniture made me feel that it was truly my space. I was also offered a complimentary glass of wine, which I could either enjoy in the room or the living room. Eager to see more of the property, I opted to take it in the living room. It was a wonderful, refreshing rose which boasted tempranillo, syrah, mourvedre, cinsault, barbera, sauvignon blanc and grenache varietals. Oh yeah, they know what they’re doing here.
As I meandered around with my glass of wine from room to room — the kitchen, the living room, dining room, library/entertainment area— I realized that this wasn’t a large house turned into a hotel. This was someone’s home, opened graciously to visitors. Plush rugs, comfy sofas and antique furniture dotted the cool, clay floor. Sculptures, paintings, lamps, and vases from the owner’s travels also adorned the living areas. My favorite room by far was the beautiful kitchen, with its long, wooden communal table and stone oven sitting in the middle. I was tempted to ask the cooks if I could hang out and spend the day cooking with them, Like Water For Chocolate style.
The surrounding landscape was just as gorgeous. Every area of the property had a front row view of the lush, ambrosial vineyard. I loved that I didn’t have that confining, boxed in feeling associated with most hotels. I had a sense of freedom wandering those dusty paths, as if it was my home.
The hotel’s main activities feature wine tasting, horseback riding, and massage. I only had two days to spend in Guadalupe Valley, so the wine tasting was my main focus. However, if I had more time, I would have indulged in the latter two! Premium Azteca Sporthorses are bred right on the property and have seasoned staff dedicated towards raising and training them. There is an on-site masseuse/reflexologist who can take away your horseback aches using oils and exfoliants that contain plants and herbs from the organic garden. All of the vegetables on the breakfast and dinner menu come from there as well.
Wine tasting was on the agenda for the next day (including Adobe Guadalupe’s own incredible winery), but I found myself spending a couple hours stargazing after dinner. If this place needs anything, it’s a planetarium! The stars almost completely blanket the sky. I was like a giddy little kid, trying to find as many constellations as I could, and using my phone app The Night Sky to help me identify planets and moons. I even saw a few shooting stars! It was simply amazing.
Adobe Guadalupe Inn has only six bedrooms. Be sure to book at least one week in advance.
Lunch and dinner is optional, but must be booked at least 24 hours ahead.