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The Valle de Guadalupe region in Baja California is most often referred to as Mexico’s version of Napa Valley. The area is compact and contained (roughly 20 miles by 1 mile). It’s easily reached via San Diego International Airport and is well-positioned as a self-drive trip from California, New Mexico and Arizona. The number of registered wineries in the valley is growing and currently numbers more than 100.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts is well-known to travel agents and has gained recognition for its all-inclusive Riviera Maya and Caribbean properties.
El Cielo Winery & Resort — which is not all-inclusive — represents Karisma’s first property on Mexico’s western coast.
There are currently 56 suites positioned within 2,350-square-foot villas. Each villa has one Master Suite and two Junior Suites that can be booked separately or connecting. There are also two Presidential villas that can sleep up to eight guests. The number of suites is scheduled to increase to 95 by June 2019. (Pro tip: Book your clients into one of the villas or suites that provide wonderful views over the man-made lake, chapel, vineyard and distant mountains.)
The culinary experience at El Cielo is very much about artistically prepared Baja Mediterranean cuisine and a constant flow of excellent wines — 15 varietals in all — from the property’s vineyards.
The resort has two restaurants serving expertly prepared cuisine: Latitud32 and Restaurant Polaris. A standout feature is Dining in the Dark, in which guests dine in a pitch-black setting while being served by blind waiters. Or, guests can opt for a private six-course dinner in the wine cellar at a table that seats 12. El Cielo also has an expansive boutique selling branded clothing, regional delicacies and, of course, lots of wine.
The property recently introduced a variety of wine seminars, including a wine-blending course, during which guests craft their own bottle of wine and emblazon it with a personalized label.
Guests can also take the resort’s wine trolley tour through the property’s vineyards, which comprise 79 acres. The guided tour provides lots of fascinating information about Baja California vine cultivation and winemaking, which was established by Russian immigrants in the early 19th century. A high point for me was being up close to the Harris hawks that the vineyard uses to control the crow population. This is a necessary precaution; if a crow pierces a single grape, the juice will ruin the whole cluster. The trolley, which holds eight people, operates hourly on weekends from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One of the most challenging aspects of traveling to Valle de Guadalupe is getting there: The resort is two hours from San Diego and 90 minutes from Tijuana International Airport. El Cielo makes a visit easier, however, by offering pickup service at Tijuana’s airport. Plus, the resort is in the process of hammering out the details that will enable them to pick up guests across the border in San Diego. This allows guests to sit back and enjoy the scenic drive along the coast, which affords beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
El Cielo Winery & Resort is ideal for clients with a developed interest in wine and cuisine, as well as an adventurous streak.
The DetailsEl Cielo Winery & Resort www.karismahotels.com