Mexican Wine Country
Yes... mexican. We are getting tediously close to the states and we're aware our hours in baja mexico are numbered. Jim has a flight to catch out of san diego and we know it's time for our re-entry to the states if we plan to make it home by Jen's birthday. We opt to try the tecate border crossing with the guys instead of going back through Tijuana. It's new territory for us which almost always wins, but also comes with the bonus of some wine tasting along the way. Sweet!
We let the guys lead and somehow end up meandering through the streets of downtown ensenada, but between the city and Guadalupe Valley (mexico wine country) was a beautiful, curvy road through the mountains leading to the valley. We attempt to hit the first few tasting rooms but soon learn that many aren't open until the weekend. We finally spot activity at El Cielo and stop in for a tour and tasting. We are blown away. Everything from the grounds to the service to the cellar completely blew our mind (and yes, that includes some very solid wine). This place was spectacular, and a great introduction to the valley.
I know for many, the words "mexican wine country" sound like a joke. This valley is no joke. It's not only drop dead gorgeous, but every wine we tasted would stand toe to toe with wines from north of the border. They have been making wine here for centuries, but in the last few decades the quality has risen sharply. It's clear now that the valley is flooding with money, new wineries and is quickly on its way to becoming a tourist center (just made WineMag's top 10 in 2014). Frankly, i wish we had stumbled upon it years ago!
We plan to check into our campsite before dark and make sure we have arrangements before one last tasting. As we round the last bend i look up to my left and see a few gorgeous cabins that i know i've seen in architectural magazines/websites. We still check in at our campsite but Ben saw the same thing i did - and we turn around quickly to see if we can check the place out. It turns out Encuentro is a self-dubbed "anitiresort". An ecoresort nestled among the rocks and vines along the hillside. It may be the single best piece of architecture i've had the pleasure to visit in person. We took countless photos as they opened their doors to us and gave us the royal treatment. We sat and took in the vista from their lobby bar; mindblowing. We sampled their house wine; delicious. We toured the restaurant, the infinity pool and the now-famous cabins in the hills above, all nearly perfect. The architect clearly had a passion for enhancing the landscape rather than removing it, as every structure here floats above the land and had almost zero footprint on the desert. The attention to detail is impeccable and while these cabins were built for short nightly stays, we could easily move into one full time if they'd let us (or if we could afford to).
As we struggle to pick up our jaws at the breathtaking beauty of this place our guide explains that many guests are unhappy when they stay here. The most common complaint being that "there's no TV in the rooms". As we stand on one of the balconies (each equipped with their on private firepit), i honestly can't imagine how you take your eyes off the valley or your glass of wine long enough to even notice.
Granted, i didn't even plan on designing small homes a year ago, but i suddenly have a strong desire to design an ecoresort nestled in the hills or along a coastline. Apparently we now need to get home so i can focus on expanding zenbox. ;)
We didn't even stay here (well out of our budget for the current trip) and i can say it's among the best resorts I've ever seen. Were I not already trying to figure out a way to earn money/create a savings...I would be starting one just so we could come back here, stay in this architectural gem nestled among the rocks, and tour wine country with the week-long trip this valley deserves.