Adventure 002EN ROUTE TO
BAJA'S WINE COUNTRY
A short drive down the coast from the San Diego – Tijuana border is the destination that’s kindling people’s thirst for traveling to Mexico’s viticultural epicenter. Beyond the spring break beach towns, would-be resorts left abandoned since the recession, and every misconception people have about Mexico is Valle de Guadalupe. With a mediterranean climate rivaled by few locations worldwide, a burgeoning food + wine scene and an engaging local community, El Valle is the Baja town you never expected to see. Adventure 002 guides you along the scenic path towards this sleepy valley, a pit stop for some home cooking, and to Encuentro Antiresort, the Member Property with a view of it all.
Encuentro Antiresorts / San Diego – Ensenada / Cocina De Doña Esthela / Valle De Guadalupe
Some SoCal residents spend more time commuting to their desk than they would driving to Valle de Guadalupe. A 90 minute drive down the coastal highway towards Ensenada takes you along panoramic views of the Pacific and scenes of quotidian life in the peninsula.
Repairs to the Tijuana-Ensenada toll road during our visit called for a scenic detour via the Carretera Libre El Tigre. Despite no longer driving along the Pacific Ocean during the home stretch of the route, the surrounding Baja landscape makes up for it whilst cutting through the mountain, eventually reaching La Ruta del Vino towards Encuentro Antiresort. While we like talking up the region’s top restaurants, three of which rank prominently in Latin American charts, a break for the traditional is a must when visiting the area.
La Cocina de Doña Esthela is the Mexican home-cooked meal you’ve never had. Tucked amongst vineyards off a dirt road is the kitchen with the freshest hand-made tortillas, heartiest smoked lamb, and friendly ranch house hospitality the region is known for. Doña Esthela has a reputation for her generosity, meaning your machaca con huevos, beef stew, and queso fresco is being brought to you in true Mexican abuelita quantities – and rest assured you’re expected to eat it. Ask about the empanadas if you make it there on a Friday.
Jorge Gracia’s architectural vision for Encuentro is best appreciated in person. The impact his creation made on the valley’s landscape is most evident when first laying eyes upon the main building façade and hillside Eco-Lofts.
Upon arrival, Encuentro likes to make sure guests take a moment to catch their breath with a welcome sangria. We suggest the terrace to take it all in. There is no wrong choice when it comes to the offerings with beer from local breweries such as Agua Mala + Cerveceria Wendlandt and labels from Encuentro’s on-site winery.
The intention behind the “Antiresort” is to immerse guests in the Baja surroundings. Once checked in, guests can hike towards the Eco-Lofts through the nature reserve Encuentro sits on. Hotel staff offers rides around the property, but walking the paths to your room and pool deck amongst the flora + fauna is half the adventure.
The Eco-Loft’s design is aptly inspired by the composition of a shellfish, with a rough and rugged exterior protecting a smooth and comfortable interior complete with all the modern amenities. Coexisting with the valley’s environs was important to architect Jorge Gracia, therefore it’s not uncommon to spot wildlife amongst the boulders and vineyards.
Nighttime above the valley brings a starscape uninterrupted, complemented by the crackling from the deck’s wood-fired chimenea and natural soundscape. Add good company and a bottle of the wine made on site for a relaxing end of day in Valle de Guadalupe.