Just back from a fabulous – but wet – trip to Northern Baja Mexico! Rented a car in San Diego and drove straight down to Ensenada – no problems whatsoever. Sorry Rosarito folks we’ll catch you the next time. Checked into the Mision Santa Isabela hotel (great deal for $50) and took off towards the malecon (harbor front). Carnival cruise was docked but not many people in town. Stopped at Muelle Tres (which is now separate from Manzanilla) for lunch where owner David Martinez welcomed us. Had a fabulous lunch of ceviche, sashimi tuna, various small plates and yummy chowder. The molten chocolate cake dessert was wonderful. David was extremely helpful and suggested what turned out to be a highlight of our trip – a visit to Rancho la Campana, Cava de Marcelo.
After lunch we headed to Galeria Perez Meillon where we met owner/artist Adalberto. A former teacher, Adalberto and his wife run this small galleria right off the malecon which specializes in pottery from the Mexican village of Mata Ortiz as well as artwork from local artists and baskets from the Kumiai people of San Antonio Necua (up in wine country). After shopping we walked up to Hussongs bar and met up with Adalberto and his wife for a beer. With 2 wedding parties and a great mariachi band, the place was jumping.
Next day we drove out to the bufadora (blow hole) – total tourist trap but lively and somewhat interesting. Would skip it and spend more time about an hour east of Ensenada at Cava de Marcelo. Marcelo makes artisan Real de Castillo cheese. The 1 hour guided tour ($10 Eng/Spanish) includes of a farm tour and finishes with a wonderful cheese and wine tasting in their beautiful cava de queso (cheese cellar). We tasted 8 cheeses accompanied by their Ramonetti red wine. This wine turned out to be our favorite of the entire trip. They also serve lunch but we had to skip it to make it wine country by dark.
Arrived at Vinedos Malagon at dark which made finding the hotel a bit difficult but it was worth it. The winemaker Nathan Malagon and his friendly Australian Cattle dogs greeted us and showed us to our beautiful room after which we had a great wine tasting with Nathan. If you wonder why Mexican wines are expensive consider that they pay around 41% in taxes!
Monday dawned wet and muddy and with a non 4 wheel drive vehicle we were a bit unsure about heading to Villa del Valle. However, Nathan called Agnes at VdelV and someone met us near the highway and escorted us to the gorgeous B&B. Phil and Eileen own and live at Villa del Valle and it’s spectacular – even in the rain and mud. Fabulous meals, wine and conversation made up for the weather. We will definitely make a return visit.
Due to the weather, we cut our trip short by one day so only visited 3 wineries Mogor Badan, Tres Mujeres and Monte Xanic. The Chasslas white wine at Badan was yummy and Natalia Badan, family and staff were super.
The drive back to San Diego was a bit stressful with rain, flooded roads, and rockslides but we made it. The worst part of the trip was sitting at the border waiting to cross – however, watching the various vendors was entertaining. Once again, Mexico has enchanted us with its wonderful people, wine and interesting places to visit.