From wine tasting to whale watching, Baja Wine & Sun Tours offer personal attention and affordable excursions!
Not for me, the giant buses that traverse the Baja Peninsula carting passengers from one tourist stop to the next. There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of travel, but my idea of a great trip is to have a more personal experience and find places and adventures that are off the beaten path. That’s what I did in autumn of 2012 when I and some friends traveled to Rancho Meling south of Ensenada, on the road to the famous San Pedro Martir national park. It was my first – and certainly won’t be my last — excursion with Baja Wine & Sun Tours and its knowledgeable owner Alain Pressier.
How did we come to pick Baja Wine & Sun Tours? I had met Alain and instantly enjoyed him – especially the fact that although he was willing to put up with my hackneyed Spanish, he happily switched the conversation to English. His tours are small – 10 people or fewer fit comfortably in his van – which is a big plus. He explains that he prefers smaller groups so that he can easily share information with passengers about sights and landmarks along the way. For him, part of the pleasure of his work is offering personalized attention to clients – which he has been doing for 22 years in the touring industry, originally working for Bajarama, a transportation/tourism company.
“When I was with Bajarama, one of our stops was the Domecq winery. They didn’t have the staff to be able to offer tours, so we were trained to be able to do it. Thanks to them, I learned a lot about wines and the wine industry, and about guest services,” says Alain.
He started Baja Wine & Sun Tours in 2010 and is seeing a steady increase in bookings for his tours to the Valle de Guadalupe (Mexico’s wine country), Ojos Negros (famed for its cheese caves), San Pedro Martir and even as far south as Guerrero Negro, about 8 hours south, for whale watching.
He customizes trips, as well. In fact, although it wasn’t part of the original plan, at the request of some passengers Alain stopped at the Rincón de Guadalupe winery in San Vincente on our return to Ensenada from Meling Ranch.
Another important factor to me and my friends in selecting Alain’s tour was, quite simply, the price. I queried him recently about doing a tour of the wine country (how much more fun would it be to do wine tastings knowing that none of our group had to drive the windy road home, afterwards!). He charges $60 per person for a ‘basic’ five-hour tour that includes three wineries and wine tastings, bread and cheese and himself as a guide. Of course, if patrons want to visit more wineries and/or have lunch or dinner, prices will vary.
Safety was another key concern for me. Our trip to Rancho Meling involved some mountain driving. As my husband will affirm, I am a nervous passenger at best, which is why it was so amazing that I did not even once slam on my imaginary brake pedal or try to grab the wheel out of Alain’s hands. He errs on the side of caution and safety…and he is a really good driver. All of which allows passengers to relax and take in Baja’s spectacular scenery.
It is important to book as far in advance as possible, not only to ensure the dates you require, but to allow Alain time to plan out a good tour. He can advise you as to when to go to specific areas – for example, whale watching is at its peak from January through March, so it is not too early to think about planning that tour. For wine tours, April through October are optimum months, with the entire month of August dedicated to the Fiestas de la Vendimia, Ensenada’s grape harvest festival. Alain suggests that, post-festival, September is a terrific time to tour the wine valley with fewer tourists, very warm days and cool nights.
Baja Wine & Sun Tours is not fancy which, for my money, makes it more fun and certainly more affordable. It is a great way to discover Baja with friends and family, and to have the kinds of unique experiences you simply can’t get as part of a large package tour. To find out more about touring with Alain Pressier, contact Baja Wine & Sun Tours.
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