The Bounty of Baja: Wine, Food & Local Life in the Guadalupe Valley
Discover the wine industry’s best kept secret in Guadalupe Valley as you learn from world-class winemakers, chefs and artists about their industries and get a taste of their creations.
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Program No. 22338RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Lecture
San Diego, California
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After you have your room assignment, see the hotel notice board for the location of our Road Scholar private meeting room where the Orientation session will take place at 5:00 p.m. Program Registration & Orientation: 5:00 p.m. Register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the hotel front desk when you check in. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will also serve as our Study Leader for most field trips and deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. Transportation will be via private motorcoach and Sprinter. At the hotel, our private meeting room will serve as our space for meals, lectures, and meeting points. In Mexico, for meals that offer a choice of dishes, we will circulate a form in advance to note everyone’s preferences and save time ordering. Meals in wine country are leisurely. Restaurants generally open for lunch about 1:30 p.m. and meals can extend to two hours. While in Mexico, purified water will always be available on the motorcoach, at the hotels, and in restaurants. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In our meeting room, we’ll have a plated meal featuring lasagna with beverage choices of coffee, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: San Diego is a convenient gathering place to launch our program. The wine, food, and cultural immersion experience will begin as we cross into Mexico on Day 2. This evening, the Group Leader will give us a presentation on the culinary and winemaking industries of Baja California. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Cross the Border & Transfer to Ensenada-MX, Art & Culture
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Both a valid passport and personal permit are required for entry into Mexico. Permits are issued by the Immigration Bureau upon entering the country; the Group Leader will assist as needed. Keep the permit with you during your stay in Mexico. We must carry our belongings as we cross the border; walking approximately 200 feet. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles (150 km), approximately 2 hours. Standing and walking at a slow pace for up to 1 hour per activity.

Breakfast: In our meeting room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet including milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board a motorcoach and begin the journey south through the most-crossed border in the world, separating the United States and Mexico at San Ysidro. We will get off the bus and walk across the border carrying our belongings as we go through Mexican immigration and customs. You will need to present your passport and complete a form on site to receive the required personal permit. The Group Leader will be on hand to assist as needed. We will visit a gallery displaying works of art representative of the emerging “borderless art” movement. The owner will give us a presentation and discuss the artwork we see as we walk through the gallery.

Lunch: At Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana, we’ll have lunch featuring the renowned Caesar Salad plus soup, chicken strips, bread, a soft drink or beer and water; other beverages available for purchase. The story goes that the original salad recipe was concocted in the 1920s with what was on hand for a group of pilots from Rockwell Field outside San Diego. The dish, originally dubbed Aviator Salad, became popular and was soon called Caesar Salad for the restaurant. Part of the appeal was and is having it prepared tableside.

Afternoon: The drive to Ensenada offers magnificent vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival, we will check in to our oceanfront hotel— where every room has a balcony with a view — with some time to freshen up and relax. We’ll then ride to Boules, a local garden restaurant. There, in the wine bar, we will participate in a themed wine tasting experience with a local expert to help develop our senses, identify aromas and flavors, and appreciate the wine experience. We’ll also learn about Baja wines, their development, and production.

Dinner: At the restaurant, we’ll dine family style with an assortment of Baja-Med fusion appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and wine or a nonalcoholic drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure to relax and enjoy the peaceful oceanfront location.

Guadalupe Valley, Meet An Artist, Winery, North Valley
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a Sprinter; driving about 40 miles (65 km), approximately 1 hour. Walking approximately 1/2 mile (800 meters); standing approximately 1/2 to 1 hour during field trips; slight uphills.

Breakfast: In the hotel’s panoramic restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with choices including Mexican and international dishes plus orange juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: We will spend today getting acquainted with the Guadalupe Valley in the heart of wine country. Amid rolling hills and granite boulders, wineries range from simple working establishments to state of the art industries, often displaying innovative architecture. Sprinkled among them are ranches, orchards, vineyards, artists’ studios, and gourmet restaurants. We will board the Sprinter and ride to the home of an artist. Born into a family of etchers from Mexico City, Guadalupe moved to Ensenada and established a workshop in her home. We will learn about the ancient process of etching and see how the artist develops her works. Moving on, we will visit La Escuelita, a small hands-on nonprofit school and cooperative established by local enologists to spread their knowledge on processing local products such as grapes, olives, and agaves. Some of the school’s graduates have become top winemakers. With a local specialist, we will walk through the ecologically sensitive installations and taste some of their available products. Several mid-sized wineries producing quality wines dot the north side of Guadalupe Valley. We will visit one of these, walk through the installations, and taste wines. The valley was once home to people of diverse heritage including Kumiai Native Indians, Spanish missionaries, and a colony of Molokan Russians. A visit to a small museum will acquaint us with this history.

Lunch: We will dine at Laja’s in the Guadalupe Valley, a restaurant founded by Jair Tellez, now regarded as one of the world’s top chefs. His first restaurant is consistently called a hidden gem due to its location off the beaten path. We will savor the highly praised tasting menu with wine pairing, an outstanding example of locavorism.

Afternoon: We will then ride to a prominent winery to see and lean about production processes, flavors, and taste premium wines! Clos de Tres Cantos is unusual. Founded in 2014, it is based on sustainability and recycling with distinctive architecture, a passion for winemaking, and a philosophy of living the good life with respect for Panchamama — a Quechua word for Mother Earth. The owner will lead our exploration as we experience all of these elements that together have created true works of art in both wine and architecture. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is to relax and enjoy the view. Or, you might like to step into the jacuzzi overlooking the restless Pacific Ocean.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course plated dinner ordered from a select menu and served with a nonalcoholic drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Santo Tomas Experience and a Blowhole
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a Sprinter; driving about 70 miles (100 km), approximately 2 hours. Getting on/off a high wagon. Walking up to 1 mile; standing up to 1 hour; slightly uphill flat ground.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: Today we will explore shores and valleys south of Ensenada. Boarding the Sprinter, we will ride to Santo Tomas Valley. The winemaking industry in Baja had its roots in the mission of Santo Tomas, founded in the 1770s, that eventually became an established winery in 1888. It is now one of Mexico’s biggest as well as one of the oldest. We will see modern installations, then climb onto a wagon and ride through the vineyards, stopping to taste wine along the way. We will end our visit with a special exercise led by a winemaker to savor and blend wines using different senses. At the end of our visit we will drive a short distance to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: Lunch featuring Mexican cuisine is served family-style with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Driving on to the coast around Todos Santos Bay, we will have panoramic views of the calm bay contrasting with the turbulent Pacific Ocean. At the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula, we will reach La Bufadora, the famous blowhole. This natural sea spout is the second largest marine geyser in the world. The Group Leader will explain how the action of the waves force water into an underwater crevice, displacing the air with a tremendous roar and creating a spout that shoots water 100 feet high. Returning to Ensenada, we will see more of this city established by the English at the end of the 19th century as a port to serve the booming inland mines. It remains an important harbor for cargo, fishing, and cruise ships. We will drive past historical wooden homes built by the English; walk through the fresh fish and seafood market where live music groups entertain; enter the epic Riviera del Pacifico, a former casino, and hear stories about its glorious past; and admire the art work of local artists that decorate the plaza of Ensenada’s cultural center. Back at the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free. If you’d like to spend more time in town, it is a 5-minute taxi ride from the hotel.

Dinner: At a fusion restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal featuring a cuisine where Mexican dishes have an Asian touch and are prepared with farm-and-sea-to-table products; a glass of wine or a nonalcoholic beverage included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Relax at the bar or wander along the peaceful oceanfront.

De La Torre Brothers, Ensenada & Guadalupe Valley Continued
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Getting on/off a Sprinter; driving about 40 miles (65 km), approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 1 mile, standing up to 1 hour per activity; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: We will travel to the home-based studio of the internationally recognized De La Torre brothers in the Guadalupe Valley. Classifying their artistic creations is a challenge. Their arts and crafts works — from glass representations, paintings, metal structures, and ceramics — have been described as a hybrid blend of high and low culture, sacred and profane, esoteric and pop, and even Baroque. Their works have been collected by museums and galleries around the world and featured in a PBS documentary. We will see work being produced at the time of our visit and hear from a member of the family. Back aboard the Sprinter, we will continue our exploration of Guadalupe Valley wineries. There are currently about 50, from large commercial producers to more makeshift operations. Set in a lush garden, Tres Mujeres is a lovely small artisan establishment operated by three women, one of whom is a ceramist. We will step into their tasting room to appreciate the wine as well as the ceramics. Next to Tres Mujeres, perched on a hilltop among bugambilias — the Spanish name for bougainvillea — scenic Garza winery holds a privileged position in the valley. We’ll taste wines while taking in the view from the picturesque terrace. We’ll drive a short distance to our last stop of the morning. Rancho El Mogor has achieved the highest profile as boutique organic winery, notable for its Swiss-French heritage and a restaurant that features locally grown, seasonal, sustainable produce. We will walk through the orchard with ranch personnel to learn how the ranch developed, the production process that includes water from the mountains rather than irrigation pipes, and taste wine.

Lunch: At Deckman’s en el Mogor, the casual outdoor restaurant at the ranch, we will have a plated meal with choice of entrée featuring dishes prepared by noted chef Drew Deckman accompanied by wine or a nonalcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase. Most ingredients are estate grown or obtained from other local producers.

Afternoon: We’ll have some independent time at the ranch before our return drive to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: We’ll ride to a restaurant kitchen for a cooking class and join in preparing our 3-course farewell dinner. Chef Juan Hussong will lead us in discovering delicious aspects of recently defined Baja-Med cuisine. After a brief introduction on the proposed menu, we’ll engage in everything from chopping onions to braising meat, mixing a delicate sauce, or putting finishing touches on the final dish. Artisan beer, wine, and nonalcoholic drinks will accompany the cooking process as well as dinner itself. Then, share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends as we enjoy what we helped prepare.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes, Return to U.S.
San Diego, California

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles (150 km), approximately 2 hours. We must carry our belongings as we cross the border; walking approximately 1/2 mile, standing in line; smooth, flat ground.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: We will depart Ensenada by motorcoach at 8:00 a.m. and drive back to the Mexico-U.S. border. Crossing back into San Diego, we will drive to San Diego Airport, arriving at approximately 12:00 Noon, then on to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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