Encuentro hotel

California the state gets all the attention (and the crowds) when it comes to wine, but if you head south from San Diego to Valle de Guadalupe, there’s a thriving wine region there as well. We’ve just posted reviews of two Baja Norte hotels to consider if you’re touring this lesser-known wine region.

It’s a great area for growing grapes, with constant sun and varying elevation, but a few factors have kept the fine wine from this region from getting much recognition. The main one is the odd tax structure in Mexico, which makes these wines twice as expensive as ones shipped all the way from Argentina or Chile and even in Mexico they’re often as expensive on a wine list as their USA cousins from the north.

If you do make it here, however, you’ll find a region without Napa’s tour buses or over-hyped restaurants filled with 30-something millionaires from Silicon Valley. This is a more laid-back, natural wine experience, pairing good food and good drink in a beautiful Baja California setting. Our associate editor Lydia will be bringing us a full tour story later, but meanwhile we’ve posted reviews of two top hotels there.

La Villa del Valle

With only six rooms on a large expanse of land, glowing desert mountains under a blue sky, this upscale boutique hotel is the kind of place nature-loving foodies come to for a weekend and then don’t want to leave.

Villa del Valle hotel farm

The property’s draw is three-fold: La Villa del Valle boutique hotel, the Vena Cava vineyard and Corazón de Tierra, their on-site restaurant. La Villa del Valle, the 6-bedroom boutique hotel, originally envisioned as Eileen and Phil’s weekend retreat, is consistently listed as one of Mexico’s best small hotels and exudes the warmth of a weekend visit to friends in the country.

People travel a long way to visit Corazón de Tierra restaurant, which has won awards as one of the top-50 in Latin America. The owner uses the restaurant to try out new small batch wines as well, making it cost-effective to continually experiment. Much of what’s served comes from the large garden on site. The hotel is no slouch either though, regularly recognized as one of the best small hotels in Mexico.

See our full review of La Villa del Valle wine country hotel.

Encuentro Guadalupe

This project got a flurry of press attention when it opened as a Grupo Habita hotel with its dramatic photo images of self-contained boxes perched on hillsides. It has since split from that group and is going it alone, hoping to still attract design-centric travelers looking for something truly unique on the Baja Peninsula.

Encuentro has 100 hectares of land, hosts tastings of its own wines, and has views of several notable vineyards from the deck.

This hotel’s stunning setting is definitely its winning attribute, star–filled skies and massive boulders in every direction will have you feeling like you’re staying overnight on Neptune—or at least in a galaxy far far away from the crowds.

Encuentro Guadalupe Baja

It’s best to book ahead and get the Master Suite so you’ll have twice as much space, sharing it only with a giant boulder incorporated into the structure. Or get one of the main building rooms with glass on several sides. Otherwise assume you’ll probably be sleeping in your loft and spending the rest of the time exploring the area, sipping wine under the stars, or dining in the good restaurant.

See our detailed review of Encuentro Guadalupe.