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Ensenada Wine Country

The hubby and I just returned from a 9 day cruise to the Mexican Riviera out of San Diego.  We sailed aboard the Carnival Spirit.  As many of you may know, Royal Caribbean recently pulled out of Mexico due to the violence that has been occurring throughout the region.  I thought I would do a four part series on our experiences in Mexico as we did not encounter any issues.

Our first port of call was Ensenada Mexico. Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico and is located only 78 miles south of San Diego.  Ensenada is well known as wine country and is regarded as the best in Mexico.  An excursion to wine country through Carnival would have cost us $39.95 per person for two wineries (which included a free bottle of wine).  We decided to venture out on our own. After talking to a few different cab drivers, we found one with a nice size van who would take all 6 of us to three different wineries for $15 each!  We loaded up the van and off we went.  It was a very scenic drive, but after 30 minutes of driving, we all started getting a little worried.  After all, Mexico has numerous safety warnings about car-jackings.  Yikes!  Like little children, we kept asking, “are we there yet?” – just a little further, the cab driver would say in his oh so broken English.  After almost 40 minutes on the road, we finally pulled into this nice little winery called La Cetto, one of the most renowned and oldest wineries in Mexico.  The winery had gardens, a picnic area, a wine tasting room, and a wine tour.  Apparently, this winery is responsible for more than half the country’s wine and also produces tequila and olive oil.

Our cab driver stayed put while we did a 25 minute tour of the winery production facilities.  After the tour, we were treated to 6 different wine tastings – all for free!  Our only cost was the tip to our tour guide.  After snapping a few more pictures, off we went to the next winery.  Thankfully, it was only a few minutes down the road.  We decided to forgo the winery tour and go straight to the tasting!  I was starting to feel like I was on an episode of “Three Sheets.” I was starting to get a little woozy and needed to get a little food into my stomach.

Although we had the option of going to a third winery, we decided to head back into town since it was such a long drive.  We asked our driver to take us to one of the best restaurants in Ensenada – you know, one that the locals would go to.  He took us to a nice little family type restaurant (I didn’t take a picture of the restaurant, so I don’t remember the name) that had amazing food and ice cold beers. It was crowded, so I took that as a good sign.  One of the members of our group suggested that we buy our cab driver lunch. Two of the girls went out and asked him what he wanted to eat.  He refused their offer, but when they insisted, he teared-up at their thoughtful gesture.  It makes me realize that sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most – never forget the little things.  It cost us less than $10 to buy his lunch and it made such a big difference.  Besides, he stayed with us all day and we were hungry so I know he had to be hungry too.

We didn’t do the excursion through Carnival, but I thought we put together a pretty good excursion on the fly for a lot less money. 

After lunch, our cabbie dropped us off and we headed back to the ship.  I didn’t pick up any souvenirs in Ensenada, but that’s OK because we have three more stops!

Other top excursions/tours in Ensenada:

1.      La Bufadora, a natural spot that shoots sea water high in the air – this is supposed to be one of Ensenada’s most famous attractions
2.      Horseback Riding
3.      Jeep Adventure Tour – see the countryside in a Jeep Wrangler
4.      Salsa and Tequila Tasting

As a side note, through hearsay at the San Diego airport, we were told by someone who travels to the area more frequently that some of the cab companies are owned by the Mexican drug cartels or mafia.  You should be careful with the cab you choose.  She told us to always ask the cabbie for an ID and to type his ID number and name into your cell phone and send that information to someone you know.  She also said not to wear flashy jewelry, low cut blouses, or any other “sexy” type clothing.  In other words, try to blend in, not stand out.  Take it for what it’s worth.

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La Cetto Vineyards

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Wine Barrells

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Not sure exactly what this says
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Cute Vineyard Sign
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2nd Winery
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Great way to store wine bottles
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Creative Use for Extra Wine Corks
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Wine Cork Table


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