Further into Baja, a superior wine region awaits
South of Tijuana proper is the rest of Baja California, the spindly peninsula that's nearly as long as actual California. You only need to drive an hour and change down the coast to reach the Valle de Guadalupe, one the world's hottest emerging wine regions and food destinations, and an unappreciated jewel.
The Valle's most spectacular view might be from the deck of Monte Xanic Bodega Vinícola's majestic winery and tasting room. The winery's premium bottling, the Gran Ricardo (a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot), is as excellent as the view. The other fantastic local white is the non-oaked chardonnay from Lechuza Vineyard at the east of San Antonio de las Minas at the Valle's southwestern end. I'm not the only one who likes it: Chef Thomas Keller recently put it on the wine list at his flagship restaurant, The French Laundry, in Napa Valley. No tricks, no wood, no deception, it is a pure expression of the earth and the grape.
Elsewhere, La Lomita winery makes some of the best food wines in the Valle. Its Pagano (grenache) and Sacro (50/50 cabernet/merlot) bottlings are particularly good, but the Cursi is one of the best dry rose wines anywhere, featuring caramel and red berry fruit flavors without being sweet.
But the odds-on favorite to take the Best Wine in the Valle sweepstakes is the "Cru Garage" Nebbiolo at Torres Alegre y Familia. To taste that you have to buy the top-level premium tasting, but it's well worth it. The Nebbiolo is a deeply concentrated wine with pronounced fruity flavors, especially red berries, and an earthiness and terroir that suggests this is exactly the wine that should be grown just where it is.