Welcome to Valle De Guadalupe! This is Mexico's premiere wine region with over 100 wineries and counting. It is known for its low key atmosphere, offering a more authentic wine tasting experience and farm to table restaurants. On this day trip from San Diego, we take a guided tour to get an inside look into this exciting wine region.
We travel two hours from San Diego by car with our tour guide Mario from Baja Winery Tours. After taking the scenic route, we arrive at Santo Tomas, one of the largest wineries in the region. We take a tour of the winery where the winemaker explains the history of the region and the micro-climates that make the various types of wine.
Next, we visit Lomita, a boutique winery where we get a glimpse into the wine making process. Lomita is a smaller, more intimate setting filled with artistic murals made from a Tijuana muralist. During our visit, we got to see the wine-makers in action as they were sorting the grapes onsite.
Now time to eat. Mexico is one of my favorite foodie places in the world because of the exquisite, complex, and creative dishes. We go to Javier Plascencia's farm-to-table restaurant called Finca Altonzano, one of the top restaurants in the region. Javier is a Tijuana native, credited for helping to start the culinary scene here in Baja California. His restaurant has an onsite farm, where the ingredients are picked fresh. It makes for a truly unique and memorable experience.
If you are looking for an exciting alternative to Napa Valley, be sure to check out Valle de Guadalupe!
Finca Altozano Restaurant:
► ► http://fincaltozano.com/
Wine Tasting Tour:
Be sure to book a guide to get the most out of your trip and skip the drive!
► ► http://www.bajawinerytours.com
Purchase the Wine:
► ► http://www.trulyfinewine.com
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Guanajuato is a state in Mexico considered to be the colonial heartland. It is filled with UNESCO sites and Spanish colonial architecture. We spend New Year's weekend in this region of Mexico and explore the beautiful sights. We even catch some New Year's Eve festivities along the way. ¡Feliz año nuevo!
Behind the scenes video of Guanajuato's picturesque sights and New Year's Eve festivities:
1. San Miguel de Allende
This is a city in Guanajuato that is a UNESCO site, home to a thriving expat community, and foodie scene. We walk through the cobblestone streets and try some of the delicious food. We also visit Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the iconic Gothic church built to resemble the European churches. It has an ornate steeple and pink stone façade. Next we visit Jacinto 1930, a modern and sophisticated Mexican restaurant.
One of the most interesting excursions in San Miguel is the pyramid found about 25 KM outside of the city called Cañada de la Virgen, so be sure to check that out during your visit.
2. Guanajuato City
We spend new years in Guanajuato City, a neighboring city about an hour and a half from San Miguel de Allende. It is a designated a UNESCO site, noted for its silver mines and architecture. It has unique topography, including a valley of colorful buildings, tunnels, and hills that contain silver mines which historically made the city very rich. We visit the zocalo and celebrate New Year's Eve with fireworks.
The next day, we visit El Pípila, a mountain top monument with a panoramic view of the city. Then we visit La Valenciana Church (San Cayetano) which is one of the most important churches in town, built in the 18th century at the opening of the La Valenciana silver mine, the largest silver mine in Mexico.
3. Dolores Hidlago
This is an important city for the Mexican War of Independence. It is where the cry for independence "Viva Mexico" occurred at the Church of the Grito. It is also where visitors can find some of the most unique ice cream (helados y nieves), including camarones (shrimp), mole, elote (corn), tequila, and tuna (a cactus fruit). I tried mole and tequila (see below). Next we visit the UNESCO site Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco, which is an 18th century Mexican Baroque church which is famous for its murals.
What are your favorite sights in Mexico?
Ready to discover to Mexico's best kept secret archaeological site? I'll give you a hint, it's not Chichen Itza or Monte Albán. In fact, this site is closer to the California border and even older than many other pyramids in Mexico.
This is Cañada de la Virgen, an Otomi archaeological site that has been recently excavated, giving it an undiscovered feel. In fact, the site was first discovered in 1998 and the official excavation began in 2002, with public access starting in 2011. During our tour, we were one of a handful of groups visiting this site. Located in the state of Guanajuato, this archaeological site is considered to be some of the northernmost pyramids which helped to redefine the Mesoamerica border. It is a short half hour ride, or 25 KM from the city of San Miguel de Allende.
Behind the scenes video:
Unlike other pyramids in Mexico, Cañada de la Virgen is located on private property, so you must book a tour in order to visit. We took a tour of this site with Coyote Canyon Adventures, which provided us with transportation and our local guide, Alberto, gave an excellent in-depth English guided explanation of the site.
Cañada de la Virgen was named after a geode found in the canyon resembled the image of the virgin Mary. The site historically served as a ceremonial space where the indigenous Otomi people created sophisticated time keeping instruments aligned to the movements of celestial bodies. As we found out during our tour, there are many theories about this site and much of the information still to be discovered. The site was occupied beginning in 530 AD. To give context on just how old that is - the capital of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan, was built in 1325 - almost 800 years later. The site is still in great condition, despite being over a thousand years old.
The best photos are taken from the patio in the front of the pyramid. We were able to get up-close-and-personal and climbed to the top of the pyramid for a panoramic view of the entire complex. If you are able to time your visit to one of the celestial dates such as March 4th, you will get a the famous shot of the sun setting to the alignment of the pyramid.
Lastly, we were lucky enough to meet local archaeologist, Rosanna Quiroz, who studied the lunar calendar of the Otomi people. Much of what we know about this site is due to her research. We visited the Museum of Prehispanic Astronomy, which exhibited the images of the cycles of the moon and sun in relation to the pyramid. While at the museum, we ended our tour with a traditional Mexican lunch at the community restaurant.
Top instagramable shots of the pyramid:
What are your favorite "undiscovered" or best kept secret sites in Mexico?
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