Ahh, the Valle de Guadalupe! Home of full-bodied wine, scrumptious olives, and juicy, juicy oranges. My first foray into the Guadalupe Valle was when I left La Mision at a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit in a long-sleeved shirt and arrived in the Valley where it was 91 degrees. Forgot I was going east into the desert, I guess, but what beautiful, absolutely gorgeous country! We originally headed south, took the cut-off onto Route 3 where the big…and I mean humongous …sign said “Guadalupe” and wound our way through vineyards, honey stands, and olive groves. We stopped at the side of the road where an elderly man was selling oranges, and he insisted we taste them first. As the juice ran down our wrists, he sprinkled some kind of chili powder on the next one and said, “Now try this.” OMG! We bought two gigantic bags and a package of the “powder” and made one of them our snack; well, there were four of us.
We finally arrived at yet another conspicuous sign pointing toward a dirt road on the right, promising wineries. The first two are wonderful, make no mistake about that, but for me the gem at the top of this crown of grapes is the 30 hectare (about 75 acre) La Casa de Dona Lupe. It is nearly a magical place where you can sit under old, wide-spread trees, sipping wine, eating delicious bread, pizza, or cookies, (or all of the aforementioned), sharing your bench with a rooster or a few beguiling Bantam hens. In the cool shade of the trees, you can kick back, relax, and let the world pass you by. Although the occasional tour bus disgorges it’s hefty load, just smile and have another taste of their signature organic wines, such as a grenache (old vine) sauvignon blend which will most assuredly knock your socks – if not your shoes – off. It is pure ambrosia.
Dona Lupe is not alone in this venture; this is a family-run business. Her son Daniel studied for years to become a master organic vintner, and it shows in his distinctive variety of wines. In their vineyards, he uses no chemical fertilizers nor herbicides or pesticides. Instead, Daniel uses neem-based products which is an all-natural byproduct of the neem tree. Her daughter Shirley makes the breads and pizzas. Every product here is beyond compare and truly a wonderful find. I have tasted their olive oil (light enough to float), their marmalade (just perfect on the fruits), and their locally crafted cheeses (excellent on everything).
The address is Km 73.5, Highway 3 – from Ensenada, drive north to El Sauzal, only 5 km, take a right onto Highway 3, the Ensenada to Tecate road into Valle de Guadalupe. From the north, just come down Mexico 1, then take the cut off.