Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico, is a recognized destination for wine enthusiasts, from the picturesque scenery to the flavorful cuisine and award-winning wines. Read on to create your perfect weekend getaway with a stay at El Cielo Resort.
My first trip to Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico, was in 2016. On that trip, I met Gustavo Ortega, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of El Cielo Winery. We visited the El Cielo property that housed the winery and Latitud 32 restaurant. As we tasted the wines, Gustavo told us of the plans to build the El Cielo Hotel. He said, “If you want to dream, dream big.” And that is what they did.
The Inspiration for El Cielo
Gustavo Ortega Joaquín, the founder of El Cielo winery and resort, was born in Mérida, Yucatán. Gustavo is an entrepreneur who has worked in hospitality for decades and has a postgraduate degree from Cornell University Hotel School. Inspired by hotels surrounded by vineyards that he saw on a trip to France, his retirement dream was to build a boutique hotel before age 50. On a birthday trip to Valle de Guadalupe, Gustavo fell in love with the valley and purchased his first 72 acres, including the winery. In partnership with his friends José Luis Martínez Alday and Dolores López Lira, successful entrepreneurs and pioneers in tourism in Quintana Roo, El Cielo opened in 2013.
Over the past decade, El Cielo has grown. They started with the vineyard, winery, and restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe. In 2017, they purchased vineyards in San Jacinto Valley (81 acres) and Ojos Negros Valley (60 acres), and today El Cielo has 219 acres. 2017 also marked the beginning of the construction of El Cielo Winery and Resort, and in 2019, the El Cielo Resort opened.
A Relaxing Getaway
The original dream was to build a hotel. However, after the owners built their two personal homes on the property, they decided to build villas instead of a single hotel. Thirty-one Tuscan-California-style villas are surrounded by vineyards, olive trees, and two man-made reservoirs.
Each villa has a Master Suite with a kitchen, living room, jacuzzi bathtub, and an outdoor fire pit. The upstairs of each villa has either two Junior King Suites or one Junior King Suite and one Junior Double Suite. The rooms in each villa are not connected, and each room has an independent entrance. The owners’ villas are the Presidential Suites that are also available to rent.
There is a quiet peacefulness on the property. And when you sit on the patio, enjoy the fire pit, or step out on the balconies on the second floor, you will look at the expansive sky. Clear and blue during the day and filled with stars at night, it is understandable where the name El Cielo (the sky) came from.
In the center of the villas, perched on the highest point, is Nuestra Señora de los Milagros (Our Lady of Miracles) Chapel. This is the only private, consecrated chapel in Valle de Guadalupe, and is available for religious ceremonies and weddings. It is also an excellent place for the best views of the property.
Eating at El Cielo Resort
There is delicious food across Valle de Guadalupe and many restaurants to try. But you can also stay on the El Cielo property and enjoy meals at the resort’s restaurants. And no matter what you eat at El Cielo, many fresh vegetables and herbs come from the El Cielo organic garden.
Polaris, located near the villas, is open for breakfast and offers a menu reflecting local Baja products. Enjoy chilaquiles or huevos rancheros, or go lighter with an omelet or avocado toast.
Lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at Latitud 32 restaurant, which is attached to the winery. There is indoor and outdoor seating, which looks out on the vineyard. Latitud 32 offers dishes inspired by Gustavo’s Yucatan roots and Baja ingredients. There is an a la carte menu, but the best way to experience a range of flavors is with the six-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The six-course tasting menu can be enjoyed in the wine cellar called The Enoteca (Wine Bar) for a small group or a more intimate setting.
On weekends, El Cielo offers the Cocina de Homo, or Smoke Kitchen, lunch. A delicious meal of grilled meats and vegetables, salads, and homemade tortillas is served family-style outside on the grass next to the winery and outside Latitud 32.
Drinking During a Stay at El Cielo Resort
Valle de Guadalupe produces 70-90% of Mexico’s wine, and El Cielo is one of the producers. El Cielo has been making wine since 2013, and leading the charge is winemaker Jesús Rivera and his son and assistant winemaker Jesús Rivera Rodríguez, both born in Valle de Guadalupe. Rivera is the only winemaker in the history of the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles to win the top prize, the International Wine Revelation Award, in two categories: red wine with Caipirinha 2016 and white wine with Cenzontle Blanco 2019 in 2023.
With 219 acres of vines, El Cielo grows a wide variety of grape types. They have chardonnay and sauvignon blanc for white wines. And they have tempranillo, sangiovese, malbec, merlot, syrah, zinfandel, primitivo, nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, grenache, and pinot noir for red wines. Wines are produced for six lines: Joven, Astros, Astronomos, Constelaciones, G&G by Sommelier Gina, and Estrellas, the highest level.
Activities While Staying at El Cielo Resort
In addition to eating and drinking, El Cielo offers activities on the property to fill your days. Along with the picturesque swimming pool and a fitness center, El Cielo rents bicycles and golf carts for guests to enjoy self-guided tours around the property and through the vineyard and orchards. Rentals are free for guests for 30 minutes daily.
If you prefer a guided tour, enjoy a vineyard wagon tour. Sit in the back of a cart and learn about the history of Valley de Guadalupe and El Cielo as you are driven around the vineyards, stopping to taste El Cielo wines.
If you want to try your hand at being the winemaker, then try blending your own wine. After touring the vineyard and tasting some of the El Cielo wines, you will be put to the task. With a bottle of cabernet sauvignon and a bottle of malbec, you can taste both wines and start playing with the proportions you want to make the blend you like. Once you have your final blend, you will bottle, cork, and label it. You can then take it home to enjoy with friends.
You can also book a full day of activities with “A Day At El Cielo Resort and The Wine Route.” This full-day package starts with breakfast at Polaris and is followed by a visit with the Harris Hawks to learn what they do in the vineyard.
Then, you will learn more about the vines and taste the Blancs Calypso wine, followed by a tour of the underground cellar and more wine tasting. The day includes a self-guided tour of the vineyard in a golf cart before enjoying a four-course food and wine pairing lunch on the terrace of Latitud 32. The day ends with a wine and chocolate tasting in the exclusive Wine Club Lounge.
El Cielo Resort and Sustainability
El Cielo was built with ecological functionality and energy efficiency in mind. The winery features an underground cellar, tiled roof, insulated walls, LED lighting throughout the building, and plasma motion detectors with automated systems. In 2015, they installed solar panels and built a wastewater treatment plant. El Cielo’s clay-rich land is irrigated with high-quality, low-sodium water from its well.
Falconry with Harris Hawks and hunting dogs are also used on the property to balance the vineyard’s ecosystem and protect the grapes with limited sprays and pesticides. In 2015, the Ensenada City Council recognized El Cielo Winery as the First Eco-Responsible Company. Currently, 164 acres of El Cielo’s vines are certified organic, and the winery is working towards being 100% certified organic.
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Why Stay at El Cielo Resort
Valle de Guadalupe is only 90 minutes south of the San Diego and Tijuana border and is perfect for a weekend getaway. A stay at El Cielo Resort, in the heart of the valley, offers luxury and serenity. And once the spa is built, you may never want to leave the property. We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more things to do when you visit Mexico. We also have great suggestions for more wine-tasting opportunities and more of our favorite luxury hotels and resorts.
Aim for the Sky at El Cielo Resort in Valle de Guadalupe