My husband and I recently took our first road trip down to Valle de Guadalupe, a quaint but renowned wine region in Northern Baja California. Just a short 90 minute drive from the Mexican border, Valle de Guadalupe is easily accessible for day trips, but we wanted to make a weekend out of it. After a lot of research I stumbled across a wonderful sounding family owned B&B called Casa Encinares. The price was right at just $120/night including breakfast, so we decided to give it a go.
Getting to Casa Encinares is an adventure of sorts. After turning off the main road through the wine country, you venture out on a dirt road for nearly 2 miles before reaching Casa Encinares. Although a bit bumpy, our sedan handled the road just fine, though if you have a truck or SUV, I’d recommend bringing that as just about everything is on dirt roads around here! You’ll know you’ve arrived when suddenly you are surrounded by gorgeous mature oak trees!
We were greeted at check-in by Arturo, the friendly and helpful owner who would eventually feel more like a family member to us by the time the weekend was over. He poured us two glasses of wine from his sister’s nearby winery and we set off to explore Casa Encinares and our room. The outdoor gathering area at Casa Encinares is just gorgeous, and so relaxing among all the oak trees! Our room was as I expected, rustic and no frills, but definitely clean and comfortable.
We spent part of the afternoon up at the pool area meeting everyone else who worked at Casa Encinares as well as some of our fellow guests. We drank a bottle of wine and learned more about Arturo and his partner Steve as well as the history of Casa Encinares. We got to know Eddie, one of the amazing employees there whose wife also works on site. We shared about our own family and 2 children back at home and just really had a fun time chatting with everyone. We were bummed to hear that a bunch of people were hopping on the Casa Encinares shuttle to head to dinner together as we had made reservations to dine on our own!
We planned for some fabulous gastronomic experiences while in town and one of my favorites ended up being the daily included breakfast at Casa Encinares. Arturo and Eddie were hard at work in the kitchen when we arrived at our table the first morning. After a fruit and yogurt starter, we were presented with this amazing stuffed pepper dish! It was a poblano stuffed with eggs, ham and cheese and was SO delish! Although, the potatoes on the side almost stole the show, those were great too! The next morning I was really hoping for chilaquiles and my wish came true. Considering these wonderful homemade meals were included in the price of the stay, it was definitely worth every penny.
Our first experience dining out was at Laja (below), under the helm of chef Jair Téllez, and we were blown away. This restaurant definitely lived up to the hype! Although it was very quiet for a Friday night, we loved the resulting attentiveness by our waiter through every step of the meal. Despite hearing that this restaurant was pricey, coming from California, I actually thought the food here was a great deal for what it was. We chose to do the 4-course menu but each had a different selection for each course, so we ended up still trying all 8 courses. I paired mine with wine, my husband with beer. It worked out to only about $55/person with the exchange rate! I would brag about the specifics of the amazing food at Laja, but since the menu changes nearly every night, just know you’re in for something great no matter what it is!
We decided to stop by Finca Altozano for lunch on Saturday so we could take in the beauty of the surroundings. What a breathtaking restaurant! I’m already a huge fan of Javier Plascencia from dining at his Romesco restaurant here in San Diego quite regularly, but this place just elevated him to an even higher level in my book.
We dined on grilled octopus (below), fresh oysters, ahi tostadas and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and beer, all for under $40. It was a light lunch at Finca Altozano as we had big dinner plans again, but every bite we ate was incredible, especially the octopus! We walked around the grounds and checked out the animals including pigs, chickens and lambs, which I have to assume were going to be someone’s meal sometime soon! Although perhaps a bit morbid for some, it just goes to show the true freshness involved in the farm to table methodology that you’ll see evident all over Valle de Guadalupe. I can’t wait to head back to Finca soon and try more of the fabulous food!
We visited a few wineries on Saturday as well including Lechuza and Mogor Badan (pictured below). At both wineries, we were among the only guests and were able to pick the brains of the winemakers and owners. We also toured a couple of wine caves which was really interesting. The wines in Valle de Guadalupe are great and it seemed as if there was a large variety of grapes and something for every taste.
Our final dinner, which happened to be on my birthday, was at Corazon de Tierra. Prepare to be amazed by Chef Diego Hernandez and his team if you dine here! From the long dirt road trek to get in, to the awe-inspiring views from the open air restaurant, to the meticulously prepared food, everything here was an adventure. There are never menus at Corazon, instead you will be served a surprise 6 course meal which will be described once it is set in front of you. We also had 2 amuse bouche courses, so really we ended up with 8 courses. I personally love dining this way! I had several faves here including the boneless quail and a dessert that involved both radishes and chlorophyll, that was definitely something new and different!
Though a bit pricier than Laja (expect about $100/person with the wine pairing), this is definitely a place worth visiting at least once, and perhaps more! Knowing the menu will be different every time you visit keeps everything new and fresh, so you never know what you’ll be eating! Take some time to walk around the gorgeous gardens if you can, it really is a beautiful setting, especially right around sunset when we were there.
We had such a great time on this inaugural trip to Baja’s wine country that we already booked another visit in a few weeks, this time with our kids. We thought they would enjoy running in the plentiful open spaces and enjoying the beauty of the natural surroundings while taking a break from technology. We plan on staying at Casa Encinares again and look forward to having our children meet our new friends there. We definitely plan on a leisurely lunch with the kids at Finca Altozano as well! Have you been to Valle de Guadalupe, or are you thinking of visiting? Feel free to ask any questions you might have about lodging, dining, or even just getting there. I’ll do my best to help out! And if you ever decide to stay at Casa Encinares, let them know Jen from Stylishly Social sent you!