Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Temecula are the wine hot spots on the West Coast.
However, a hidden valley, less than two hours from San Diego, provides an alternative to these attractive, but sometimes crowded, vineyard hotspots.
There is a catch to visiting this secret grape-covered valley: you have to bring your passport.
Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) sits in Baja, Mexico, less than two hours away from San Diego by car.
Though most people associate this country with its famous spirits, mescal, tequila, and even rum (on the Caribbean coastline), the wine here is certainly of world class quality.
More importantly, the scenery is like nothing else you will see in the wine regions on the US side of the border.
That said, Guadalupe Valley actually has a lot in common with Napa.
The grape species grown in many of the vineyards of California's most famous wine region originated in the hidden Mexican valley.
These premium vines still flourish today both north and south of the border.
Valle de Guadalupe is not quite as accessible as Napa or Sonoma, but that is part of its allure.
Located near the town of Ensenada, this region is only about 70 miles south of San Diego by car.
So though it feels hidden and remote, it is actually very accessible.
And, Ensenada and the surrounding vineyards are the perfect medicine for anyone who thinks that places like Acapulco and Mazatlan (and all the other seaside resort towns) are the only worthwhile destinations in Mexico.
The micro-climate in the valley is perfect for growing grapes.
It has more in common with the Mediterranean climates than with the dessert-like climates in other parts of Northern Mexico.
Aside from a few large, industrial sized vineyards in the area, there are more than a dozen small vineyards that produce craft-made wines in small batches.
Because other crops also grow well in the climate or Valle de Guadalupe, many of these smaller places also grow specialty foods like olives, herbs and other fruits.
A few have thriving side businesses pressing olive oil and making fruit jams and preserves.
The smaller vineyards have a steady but light amount of tourist traffic.
There are wine tastings and special events held on most weekends, though most wineries are open for tourist and standard tastings even if there is nothing spectacular on their events calendar for that weekend.
Valle de Guadalupe sounds good right?
One of the most stunning event venues and overnight accommodations in the region will make it sound even better.
Encuentro Guadalupe is a modern eco-friendly estate that can house up to 40 overnight guests in 20 eco-friendly pod-condos.
These rooms are perched overlooking the most scenic part of the valley. The estate also has a villa that can host up to 150 guests for a wine tasting or other celebration.
An onsite restaurant, pool and bar gives this estate the same kind of amenities as a luxury hotel, only with more privacy and much better views than any penthouse suite could provide.
In addition to being at the center of the region's many vineyards, Encuentro has its own wine-making operation, which specializes in merlot and cabernet.
The estate can be used for a wine-themed weekend, for a small wedding, for a health retreat or for a corporate getaway.
Have you been to Valle de Guadalupe? Let us know about your experiences in the comments section below....