A Visit to Adobe Guadalupe in Mexico’s Wine Country: Romance, Wine and Azteca Horses
by Carla White
It was Valentine’s Day, 2005, when my husband and I first met Don and Tru Miller. Even though we live only 30 minutes from their working winery and bed and breakfast inn near Ensenada, in Mexico’s wine country, we had heard so much about Adobe Guadalupe that we decided to spend a romantic night there. Happily, we found that all of the superlatives that had been applied to Adobe Guadalupe were true. We returned home the next day with several of Don’s excellent wines in hand, and wondered how long Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe (the wine valley, just a little more than an hour south of the US border) would remain a secret.
Suffice it to say, the secret is out.
Today, Adobe Guadalupe is recognized as one of the original players in what is seen as the ‘new age’ of Mexican wines. With approximately 60 acres of vineyards where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Shiraz and some Viognier are grown, the vinicola (winery) has garnered numerous awards and helped heighten the overall stature of Mexico’s wine industry. In fact, Adobe Guadalupe and its owners have been instrumental in propelling the Valle de Guadalupe into the international spotlight as a region of high gastronomy, gracious hostelry and as a destination for visitors from throughout the world. Mexico’s wine country is trending, in a very big way.
Over the years, I’ve visited the winery a number of times. It plays host to one of my most favorite events in Baja California, the Annual Festival del Caballo, Arte y Vino (the Festival of the Horses, Art & Wine), which in 2013 will be held on Sunday, June 9. For me, this is family friendly fun and offers an authentic experience in a spectacular environment. The smell of carne asada, the whinnying of horses, the laughter of children, all framed by vineyards in bloom under vast valley skies is simply irresistible – as is the chance to taste local wines and meet the characters who produce them.
Recently, I had the opportunity to return to Adobe Guadalupe, once again. This time, though, Tru Miller introduced me to her newest love, a gentle-faced fellow called Donaldo. He is certainly not as charming as Tru’s husband, Don Miller…but he is, after all, a horse.
Actually, he is one of number of horses raised under Tru’s auspices at Adobe Guadalupe, which is gaining fame as a premier stable for Azteca horses. Aztecas combine the characteristics of the original breeding horses, the Andalusian and the Quarter horse, and have now evolved into their own breed which has the stamina, elegance and movement required in any discipline of equestrian sport, whether it be dressage, eventing and jumping, or pleasure riding. Adobe Guadalupe’s mares are bred to pure Spanish Andalusians. The stables are currently home to 23 Aztecas (including five brood mares), and Tru works directly with potential buyers who are interested in acquiring these much-sought-after equines to refine their own lines.
Working with Tru on this aspect, and sharing her love for the Aztecas and all of the ranch horses, is Marci Plopper. Marci has extensive background in international dressage (horses at Adobe Guadalupe begin their education with training in this discipline). She also runs a weekly equine therapy program at Adobe Guadalupe for children afflicted with cerebral palsy. According to her, the children gain confidence and a sense of independence from being around and riding the quiet, patient ranch horses with which Marci matches them. Each child has a volunteer team working with her or him of up to three people – local people who donate their time and without whom this program would not be possible.
Guests staying at Adobe Guadalupe are offered the chance to tour the Valle de Guadalupe by horse, with rides ranging from one-to-two hours. As appealing as this sounds, I am not sure that I wouldn’t rather take a tour of Adobe’s beautiful winery and then watch the riders head into the vineyards while sitting in the elegant courtyard sipping Don Miller’s newest blend – Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier – called Jardin Magico. I also came to learn that Adobe Guadalupe is now extending the delicious offerings of its kitchen and winery not only to its guests but to the public, by reservation only, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I maintain that there is nothing like a romantic overnight get-away for Valentine’s Day. But, barring that, perhaps a lovely dinner and wine in Mexico’s wine country. And who knows…maybe there is a gentle-faced Azteca horse in my beloved’s future. If so, I will know where I can find one.
How to get to Adobe Guadalupe: From Highway 1 going towards Ensenada (the toll road), shortly past the toll booth, take Highway 3 towards Tecate. Go approximately eight miles and take the El Tigre road, on your left. You will take a right turn towards El Porvenir, going another 6.7 miles. (You will pass La Escuelita, the wine school, and you will go through an intersection. At the next stop sign, (Unidad Medica Familiar building) turn left and continue a half-mile further. Adobe Guadalupe is on your right.
How to contact Adobe Guadalupe: You can email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (646) 155-2094 or 155-2527.
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