Portions of this trip were sponsored, but all opinions are my own. Please see the bottom of the blog post to read more on the sponsored items.
Last month I shared with you all about my travels to Mexico’s wine country in Baja California with Neyda (@trulyney) and Avi (@always.avi.) You can read the blog post by clicking here. With two days of wine tasting and over 200 different wineries throughout San Marcos / Valle de Guadalupe (VDG), I figured I needed a separate blog post to talk all about it. So, if you like wine as much as me keep reading!
On Friday, we arrived in VDG, checked into our cute boutique hotel and went straight to the neighboring winery called Don Tomas Vinedo for early afternoon appetizers and wine tasting. I have to say that this was our favorite spot of the weekend and we ended up coming back here Saturday at the end of our wine tour for more food and drinks.
Right off the bat Chef Surinder Veer Singh Ortega came to greet us and shared a little about what he’s doing to create a unique culinary experience for Don Tomas Vinedo customers. Being half Mexican and half Indian, he really wants to honor his heritage and combine the spices and flavors that he grew up eating that are strongly represented in both cultures. He mentioned that he is working hard on a new menu and is hoping to slowly roll out some of his specialties.
We enjoyed three food tastings that consisted of (1) tandoori ceviche, (2) grilled octopus, and (3) tour of ice cream. My first impression of the ceviche was how fresh it was with such unique and delicious flavors, which represented Chef’s Indian heritage. The grilled octopus was a very unique experience since it was Avi’s first time eating it. Plus it is very iconic in VDG, it’s cooked to perfection for 45-50 minutes, and is unlike any octopus I’ve ever had – it was simply the best plate we had all weekend! Lastly, who can complain about fresh, homemade ice cream! There were about 5 different flavors from cinnamon (my favorite) to banana to coffee.
The most important tasting we had at the winery was of course the wine! I’ve outlined the different tasting and names of each wine below…
- Reales 7 – Cabernet Sauvignon y Nebbiolo – This was my favorite! I love Cabernet Sauvignon that isn’t too full body or too light, and I have to say this was perfectly in the middle with great tones and flavors.
- Cucumber & Sauvignon Blanc Sangria – Such a unique twist on white sangria. The cucumber made it super fresh (photo above.)
- Red Sangria – This was good, but not my favorite because I’m not a fan of drinks that are sweet. Avi loves sweet drinks, so it was one of her favorites.
- Reales 2 – Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, Merlot, Tempranillo, y Sirah – This was a close second. Such a delicious red blend that had great flavor, but wasn’t too strong.
- Reales 5 – Grenache Rose ‘17 – I am a rose fan, but this one wasn’t my favorite. I can’t say exactly why, but maybe it was the sweetness because this ended up being one of Avi’s favorites! Also, it is Don Tomas’ first vintage! Apparently Rose is hard to make in Mexico because the grapes typically need a cool climate and Mexico is warmer, so there are some extra steps that they have to take to get it just right.
On our second day, Saturday, we kicked off the wine tasting with Tia Juana Tours. The tour company is ran by a single owner who ended up doing everything for us. She found two wineries to do tastings at and she drove us all day. She even took some photos and videos as promotional pieces for her company. Since there aren’t taxis or Uber in VDG, I wanted to make sure that we had a driver. The owner had a really nice car, great music and took us to two great wineries, so that piece of it was wonderful. She was recommended to us by a friend, so we really didn’t do our research for other tours/drivers, but I’ve heard from other friends who’ve traveled to VDG that there are a couple different companies out there, so I highly suggest doing your research and going this route.
DISCLAIMER: I’m very against driving under the influence. The owner of the hotel we stayed at mentioned that there aren’t DUI laws in Mexico so culturally speaking most locals will drive themselves from winery to winery while also drinking, which of course terrifies me. Hearing this I made sure I was very aware of my surroundings and noticed right away that our driver was also participating in the wine tasting. This made me extremely uncomfortable and I really should have said something, but I didn’t. Instead we cut the tour short after the second tasting to go back to Don Tomas Vinedo. The owners of the hotel we were at actually arranged for their security guard/driver to pick us up, take us to dinner and also take us back to the hotel afterwards, which was so exceptional of them. Another piece of our tour was that our guide wasn’t from VDG, so driving into the area from San Diego on the day of and not knowing exactly where we were going caused us to be late and get a little lost. She also does tours in other areas in Mexico, so perhaps those tours run smoother for her or maybe it was an off day for her. Either way, make sure you ask questions about the driver, if they’re familiar with the area (where your hotel is, the wineries they’re taking you to, etc.), and confirm that they won’t be drinking. Thankfully nothing serious happened, but I will say that the stress got the best of me so towards the end I was ready to return to our happy place. 🙂
Since we didn’t get to go to all of the wineries that we wanted to go to, I thought I’d link to a couple spots for me to go back to or for you to check out if you end up going, (1) Sierra Vita, and (2) Vinos Pijoan. Also, our hotel has a page on their website linking to all of their favorite wineries too! Click here to view.
Our first stop of the day was at Finca La Carrodilla. Such a gorgeous spot! The wine tasting area was upstairs on a balcony that overlooked their vineyard. Also, it was covered in greenery that really created this eco-friendly, modern, hipster vibe, which I love! Not to mention that they stole my heart when they brought chocolate pairings for our wine tasting. Literally, my two favorite things besides Aaron and the foxy pups. I learned that this winery was built as an extension of La Lomita winery, which is where we went next. The goal was to have more land to create Lomita wines, but instead they had great success with making their own wine that they started doing tastings as their own entity. Below are the wines we tasted and my notes of each. After the tasting, we went on a private tour of the winery and we learned that they take into account the moon phases when picking grapes, which I thought was so interesting.
- Polen Rose (Grenache, Syrah) – I mentioned that I didn’t love the rose that I tasted the day before and I thought maybe it was because of the climate. However, I loved this rose! It was fruit forward and deliciously paired with white chocolate that had pineapple cream inside.
- Canto de Luna (Red blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – This is a delicious red blend that had notes of cherry, cranberry and strawberry. The chocolate pairing was milk chocolate with hibiscus flower and chili de arboles, which had a great complimentary flavor.
- Carrodilla (Tempranillo) – This wine was subtle at first and had a strong after taste of vanilla and carmel. I seemed to like the chocolate pairing a little more than the actual wine because of the boldness after effects. The chocolate was a semi-sweet dark chocolate with carmel filling, my fav!
- In Situ (Grenache, Merlot) – Surprisingly this ended up being my favorite wine from this winery and of course it’s not available to buy. This wine was made with the first grapes on the winery from 2010. If you do a tasting here and they still have this wine, I highly suggest that you request for it! It was paired with semi-sweet dark chocolate with plum/fig.
The second winery we went to was La Lomita. It seems as though this spot was the eclectic older brother to Finca La Carrodilla. It’s built on a hill, so you drive up, park and walk into the winery. From there you have beautiful views of the valley since you’re already on top of the hill. There were a few different rooms/spots that you could explore and enjoy your wine away from the crowd. Below are my notes from the wines I tasted here.
- Tinto de la Haciendo (Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah) – This wine tasted oaky & peppery. They explained that it’s hotter in VDG than other wine countries, so the grapes are more concentrated here.
- Pagano (Grenche) – This wine was a little sweet but also very bold.
- Sacro (50/50 Blend of Cabernet & Merlot) – No surprise here, this was my favorite!
After our wine tasting at Lomita, we discovered the cutest hidden gem on the other side of their vineyard. There was a pathway through the grapes that led us to an adorable small outdoor eatery on the hill next to a Lilly pond. The restaurant only served oysters and Avi got to experience another first! I’m not a big oyster fan, but they had one that had a pistachio crust or maybe we call it a rub? I’m not sure, but surprisingly it was really good and didn’t taste so fishy as oysters normally do. After that we went back to Don Tomas Vinedo, then to dinner at Finca Altozano, which you can read more about in my previous blog post here.
For more information on the winery and restaurant Don Tomas Vinedo, please visit their website.
For more information on the winery Finca La Carrodilla, please visit their website.
For more information on the winery Lomita, please visit their Facebook page.
For more information on Valle De Guadalupe in general, please visit the San Diego tourism website that features VDG and surrounding areas.