Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.
This September, plan to eat, drink and dance yourself silly at an exclusive music and food festival in the picturesque Valle de Guadalupe. It’s only a four-hour drive from L.A. to this part of Baja Mexico (though, caveat emptor: that border-crossing may run you an extra hour or two on the way back), and you’ll be close to the coast for the duration.
Most of us don’t associate Mexico’s arid, hot landscapes with rolling vineyards, but this region’s roots extend to the 18th century, when priests planted vines to service the holy communion. In the early 1900s, a sect of Russian Christians migrated to the region who didn’t drink wine, so they started selling the grapes, and a nascent wine industry was born. The notable vineyards here aren’t that old, and their proximity to the Pacific provides them with cool enough breezes to nurture nebbiolos, sauvignon blancs and syrahs.
STAY: Encuentro or Bruma
The Guadalupe Valley has a rustic aesthetic that colors its lodging options as well as its food. Resorts like Encuentro and Bruma (they’ll have shuttle service to the Festival) are dotted with cabins that blend into the rocky landscape and provide amazing views, premium linens, commodious showers and infinity pools. They also have excellent restaurants (more on that below).
The Festival (4 images)
GET DOWN: The Festival
Now in its third year, The Guadalupe Valley Wine, Food and Music Festival is held in small field surrounded by rows of vines that yield bottles for Decantos Vinícola. Chefs include Dante Ferrero (“The Meat Guru”), Oaxacan legend Rodolfo Castellanos (of Top Chef Mexico fame), David Castro Hussong of Fauna (the restaurant at Bruma) and L.A. native Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza). They’ll be cooking over an open flame, and you can eat and drink until you fall over, because the ticket price is all inclusive. Musicians come from as far as Canada (Bob Moses) and as close as Tijuana (Pepemog).
WHERE ELSE TO EAT
Local chef Diego Hernández Baquedano has a restaurant called Corazón de Tierra that’s considered to be the French Laundry of Baja. There’s no menu, reservations are hard to get and only available online, and everything is earthy and delicious. Laja is another notable restaurant with a set menu — all of the veggies are grown on site, and local chef Jair Téllez spent time at Daniel in New York