Winery tours are available at most of the region's wineries, with some having more structure than others. Especially if you visit the smaller wineries, you'll find you may be the only visitor, meaning you'll enjoy personal attention. But before you snap up cases of the vintages you taste, keep in mind that U.S. Customs limits you to taking only three bottles back across the border.
Daylong winery tours are offered by San Diego-based Five Star Tours (tel. 619/232-5040 in the U.S.; www.sdsuntours.com). Reservations-only tours include visits to several wineries, a historical overview of the valley, transportation from the border, and lunch.
The Wineries -- The area is home to almost 20 wineries, but the following are some of our favorites.
- Bodegas de Santo Tomás is Baja's oldest winery. They offer daily tours and hourly wine tastings from 9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and from 10am to 4pm Sunday for $5. They are in Ensenada, at Av. Miramar 666 (tel. 646/174-0836 or 174-0829; www.santo-tomas.com).
- Casa de Piedra offers free tours and wine tastings through its small but celebrated vineyard by appointment only. It's in Valle de Guadalupe, at Km 93.5, Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/155-3097; www.vinoscasadepiedra.com).
- Chateau Camou offers three different wine-tasting tours, all of which include a souvenir glass, Monday through Saturday from 8am to 3pm and Sunday from 9am to 2pm. The Claret is a 30-minute tour, which includes four wines for $5. The 30-minute Bordeaux tour ends with a tasting of six wines and costs $10. We recommend the Magnum, a $40 reservations-required tour and comprehensive tasting led by the winemaker and capped off with lunch and a glass of wine. This winery has beautiful gardens and panoramic views of the valley. It's in Francisco Zarco, Valle de Guadalupe, just off Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/177-2221; www.chateau-camou.com.mx).
- Domecq hosts free tours and wine tastings for $2.50 Monday through Friday 9:30am to 5pm and Saturday from 10am to 1pm. They have a gift shop and picnic areas on premises. Domecq is in Valle de Guadalupe at Km 73.5, on Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/155-2249; www.vinosdomecq.com.mx).
- L.A. Cetto, one of the largest and most commercial wineries in the region, offers free wine tastings and tours daily from 9am to 4pm. There are also a gift shop, gardens, and picnic areas on-site in Valle de Guadalupe at Km 73.5 on Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/155-2264; www.lacetto.com).
- Mogor Badan, a boutique winery that produces one red and one white that are sold in fine-dining restaurants throughout the world, offers tours and wine tastings by advance appointment. E-mail is the best way to reach Mogor Badan, which is in Valle de Guadalupe, Rancho El Mogor, Km 86.5 on Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel./fax 646/177-1484; email@example.com).
- Monte Xanic is a true jewel of a winery to visit, although they change their hours on a whim and can be difficult to reach. Wine tastings (40 pesos for four wines, either red or white, or 80 pesos for all eight) are available Monday through Thursday from 10am to 4pm and Friday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. These are considered by many to be Mexico's finest wines. Reserve at least 2 days in advance for a free tour. The winery is in Francisco Zarco, Valle de Guadalupe, just off Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/174-6769 or 174-6155; www.montexanic.com).
- Viña Liceaga has by-appointment wine and grappa tastings and tours available daily 11am to 5pm. Don't miss their award-winning merlot. They're in Valle de Guadalupe, at Km 93.5 on Hwy. 3 to Tecate (tel. 646/155-3281; www.vinosliceaga.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.