Baja Wine Country Jeep Tour

by Michael Satterfield

 On a recent trip to Baja, Mexico I had the opportunity to take a guided wine country tour which stopped at the Monte Xanic winery just outside of Ensenada. One of the best parts about the trip is that you get to drive your own Jeep in a sort of tourist convoy, while the guide points out historical points of interest over the radio. I opted for the classic Jeep Wrangler over the larger 4 door models so I would only have one passenger.

The tour was offered as one of the many shore excursions one could choose at the port of Ensenada. Before finding out about the Jeep tour I had planned on renting a car anyways to perhaps drive up and see friends who live in the area or just go for a mini road trip exploring more of Ensenada. The cost per person for the tour was just $80, a rental car at the dock with insurance would be around $60 for the day with gas and insurance. The Jeep tour included a guided winery tour and tasting as well as a tequila factory tour and tasting, so I felt like it was a good value.

The first part of the tour is driving out of the city and visiting some of the smaller farming communities that make up the Ensenada area wine country. Dirt roads and some light trails, but the Jeeps never even needed four-wheel-high, so if you are not an experienced offroader don't worry.

About an hour after leaving the dock we found ourselves entering the grounds of the Monte Xanic estate. While the brand was founded in 1987, some of the vineyards have been producing wine for over 60 years, the winery has 7 properties in the Guadalupe Valley, Mexico's premier wine country where over 85% of all Mexican wines are produced. Monte Xanic today bottles over 60,000 bottles of wine per-year and is one of the most recognizable Mexican wine labels in the world.

The state of the art facility is one of the nicest I have visited in the US or abroad and the team at Monte Xanic really prides itself on offering a world-class product. This new winery was opened in 2014 and is one of the most modern in the valley and feature a large wine cave (shown in lead photo).

Once the tour of the winery was over we were invited upstairs to sample many of the wines produced by Monte Xanic, my favorites were the white wines, the red was a little too harsh for my taste. But the Chenin Colombard was my favorite of those we sampled, so I purchased a bottle ($12 US) on my way back out to the Jeep. On the way back we take the highway, it's much faster than the overland route we took to get to wine country and in about 20 mins we find our selves back in Ensenada and make our way to the parking lot a few blocks away from the ship. I slipped Ricardo our tour guide a tip and headed to the historic downtown of Ensenada in search of tacos.

This trip was booked via the Shore Excursion desk through Carnival Cruises if you would like more information on this trip CLICK HERE. If you would like more information on Monte Xanic or locate a retailer CLICK HERE.