Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe has been touted as “the next Napa Valley” for years. The Mexican wine region, located in Baja California, about 85 miles south of San Diego, offers bold red wines and arid hillsides dotted with oak trees that could double for the Northern California wine country. Where the two wine regions diverge, however, is luxury: While Napa has an abundance of luxury resorts (and we love them all), Valle de Guadalupe has a dearth of accommodations beyond tents and B&Bs. But two new hotels are about to change that.
El Cielo Winery & Resort
Following in the wine-estate-turned-resort mold, five-year-old El Cielo Winery opened a luxury boutique hotel with 56 suites and 20 three-suite villas this past September. Owned in part by the former Mexican politician Gustavo Ortega—who says he was inspired to open a winery and hotel after traveling throughout France—the hotel offers personal concierge services until 2 a.m. and two 2,800-square-foot Presidential Villas (from $800 per night). Each features a wraparound terrace, modern kitchen with wine refrigerator, wood-beamed ceilings, and private firepits. Verdant gardens with fresh produce grow alongside each villa and views of a pretty pond are backed by acres and acres of vineyards.
At El Cielo’s restaurant Latitud 32, guests can pair wines by on-site oenologist Jesús Rivera (a native son who cut his teeth in Bordeaux under the famed consultant Michel Rolland) with Baja-Yucatan fusion like grilled octopus with truffle potatoes and pork-belly tacos with mole negro. Come spring, the hotel plans to open an additional 39 suites and 13 villas, as well as a second restaurant helmed by the renowned Mexican chef Jonatán Gómez Luna.
About a half hour east, the wine estate Bruma has been welcoming luxury travelers to two spacious villas since June. Though the villas, designed by Mexican firm Legorreta & Sepúlveda, have been constructed out of sustainable materials like soil-cement and pine, not an ounce of luxury was sacrificed for its eco-friendly ethos. Each of the four-bedroom villas sport marble bathrooms, custom furnishings by Mexican artisans, and huge private plunge pools. Another perk? The on-site wellness specialist who can accommodate everything from yoga lessons to mountain bike rides (though, unfortunately, they cannot cure any tasting-induced hangovers).
When not splashing in their pools, Bruma visitors can taste wine from Bordeaux-trained Lulu Martinez Ojeda and enjoy dinner beneath a lattice made of wine-barrel hoops and olive branches. Young chef David Castro Hussong, whose family owns the famed Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, worked at Noma and Eleven Madison Park before returning to Baja to helm the Fauna restaurant at Bruma (and boost the profile of the region’s budding culinary scene). There, he elevates native ingredients in dishes like shredded lamb with butternut squash covered in salsa negra and yellowtail aguachile.
Bruma, which also offers an eight-suite boutique hotel, plans to expand like El Cielo, by adding another 13 villas by 2020. Further proof that Valle de Guadalupe’s luxury infusion seems certain to forge ahead.