Mexico constantly excites and surprises us. You know the feeling, those goosebumps of anticipation.
Our move here in 2018 brought us to a hallway of never-ending doors to open and experiences to savor.
One area we have been watching many YouTube videos of and reading a multitude of blog posts about is Valle de Guadalupe. The “Napa” of Mexico. Award-winning wines. And, according to influencers, a foodie paradise.
With all the hype, we just had to find out about this unique area on our own and we hooked up with great friends Phyllis and Kim to do so.
Glenn and I took an easy flight from Leon to Tijuana and rented a small SUV (essential). Phyllis and Kim (now living in Ventura but returning to San Miguel next year) crossed the border with their truck and met us on our second day. We had had no trouble getting up early enough for our Bajio Go shuttle to the airport. It was Alborada, and we left town to the serenade of fireworks and music at 4 am.
Out of Tijuana, our drive past Rosarito and along the coast was, quite honestly, a shock. I barely remember the Rosarito of the eighties. But it sure wasn’t one huge apartment, condo, and hotel after another when gazed at from the highway. Many were still in construction, and I am sure they appeal to the snowbirds or ex-pats, but they are never what we seek.
We love the personal touch. The small properties with a twist, a flair, and, yes, a surprise. For this, Valle de Guadalupe did not disappoint.
When we made the turnoff from the highway to the Valle, we got puzzled. This didn’t look like Napa. I had lived in Yountville for two years, and its rolling hills, green after the rains, went seemingly on forever. Napa was polished up as being served on a silver platter. And there, everything was BIG.
Here, we were surrounded by desert, brown and sparse. And the area is in a drought as are so many places. My immediate thought was one of disappointment. Where were the vineyards? I expected them to crowd the Valle. Was there going to be enough to explore during our six days? And there was a bit of “what did we get ourselves into” as we passed some shacks, rusted cars, and a corral with a weary horse. Sometimes Instagram feeds can be a bit false, selective, and airbrushed.
But we drove on, noticing a vineyard here, another there. And we saw a sprinkle of properties taking advantage of unusual construction material. It was getting more interesting.
Finding Xaroma (please use our link to book), our home for three nights, was a test for our GPS and Glenn’s off-road driving abilities. But Glenn’s first driving experience in Mexico went smoothly, even though our GPS became thoroughly confused. There were banks of signs by the turns on the road. And we followed the ones we could see. Others had fallen down and had to be searched for. And the damn GPS women kept telling us to turn right when the sign clearly pointed left.
There are two main roads bookending the Valle north and south. Although there are wineries seen and accessed from these roads, more often than not they were within the maze of dirt roads between the two. Sometimes we had to rely on coordinates to arrive at our destination. It felt like we were in a wild west treasure hunt out on the dirt with Mexico’s always existing topes.
After winding around, we finally arrived at Xoroma, which is still a bit of a construction zone. The common area was strewn with cement bags and workers while they were building a new restaurant and bar. We were expecting it all to be completed by the time we arrived and were perturbed that it wasn’t. But, in Mexico, we are learning to roll along with circumstances.
Xaroma has ten container “cottages” located away from the main buildings. They are constructing a house that will be perfect for groups, and we heard a rumor of another ten containers.
I am fascinated by unusual building materials. Straw Bale, rammed earth, yurts, safari tent camps, tiny houses, Airstreams, and containers are so underused, yet brilliant when done up creatively.
Our container, called Syrah, was compact; just the small bedroom with a deck off of it, and a very cool bathroom with an outdoor space. We had to call over a worker to figure out the hot water, and then we unpacked and walked over to the main buildings.
With a couple of glasses of wine and a beer ordered, we settled on their comfortable deck for lunch. Starving after getting up at 3 am and only grabbing a coffee at the Leon airport Starbucks, we were ready to dive in.
Our first dip into the Valles culinary brilliance was an Arrachera plate (which I would have the following day) and tuna tostadas. After our first bites, we smiled at each other and knew we were going to be in for a fun time. Why not succumb to the call of the Valle and enjoy a desert?
Phyllis and Kim would be here the following day and we had a five-course meal with wine pairing set up for the boys that evening. At that, the female chef outdid herself with a presentation of lovely flavors enhanced by the company’s wines.
That first evening, though, back in container “Syrah”, we opened up computers and attempted to plan the next day. With so many options scattered about the Valle, that proved to be difficult, and we ended up deciding on our breakfast spot and chose to wing the rest and see what struck our fancy.
Sometimes pre-planning is overrated. Sometimes, we just want the surprise.