In the last few years, California’s up-and-coming wine regions have been steadily moving further and further south. First it was Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. Then came the wineries of Malibu, and Temecula, near San Diego. Now, California’s must-visit wine region isn’t in California at all: it’s in Baja California, 90 minutes below the Mexican border, in Valle de Guadalupe. And it has legions of in-the-know wine lovers heading there – especially for the Valle Food & Wine Festival , happening October 6-8.
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Valle de Guadalupe has been referred to as the Napa Valley of Mexico, and for good reason. Its 1000 foot elevation and Mediterranean microclimate create ideal conditions for growing red wine grapes, particularly varietals that don’t fare well in Alta California, and the wines being produced by the region’s wineries are worth serious consideration, even by seasoned oenophiles. Its fine dining restaurants, offering sophisticated food at a fraction of what you’d pay in America, are becoming so popular that their chefs are quickly ascending to celebrity status. But what makes the Valle so interesting is the total lack of pretense in its offerings. Envision Napa, but with no traffic, no “wine train,” no celebrity names on bottles. To visit this area is to spend a weekend in a state of low-key bliss, as long as your idea of a perfect Saturday involves good, inexpensive wine and friendly vineyard dogs.