Spotlight: Valle de Guadalupe
Valle de Guadalupe invites you with sunshine, a glass of vino and a big hug. Just an hour and a half south of the San Diego border is a world for foodies and wine enthusiasts alike. All you need to bring is your passport and an open mind to the unique wine varietals and up and coming restaurant scene.
A great time to come down is to the Valle’s biggest event, the 2nd Annual Valle Food & Wine Festival Oct. 5-7. This three-day festival will feature more than 35 world-class chefs, 25 Baja wineries, a beer garden and live music. The Valle Food & Wine Festival was founded in 2017 by chefs Javier Plascencia and Nancy Silverton along with writer Carolina Carreño and Fernando Gaxiola, owner of the travel company Baja Food & Wine. Passes can be purchased ValleFoodAndWineFest.com
Ambassador for Baja Food & Wine Olga Sánchez de la Vega of O Xperience recently took Del Mar Lifestyle down to Valle de Guadalupe. The O Xperience is an enhanced experience where she designs custom tours to the guests’ liking and gives you exclusive access to meet the chefs and local winemakers. We went to two must-visit locations in the Valle: Deckman’s en El Major and Encuentro Guadalupe. BajaWineFood.com
Where to Savor & Sip: Deckman’s en El Major
What started as a summer passion project, Deckman’s en El Major has turned into a full-time exquisite culinary dining experience that is unforgettable. Del Mar Lifestyle spoke with owner and chef Drew Deckman about what his inspirations are and how he now calls the Valle home.
What makes this land so special?
The ranch has got something to it; there’s an energy here that isn’t anywhere else in the valley. The same family has lived on the land for three generations. I think that the family has invested so much energy and good karma into the land always with the intention of preserving the ambiance. Being sustainable, things that weren’t talked about 30 years ago and they’ve been like that since the inception of the project by choosing plants that work with the land.
Why do you cook only with wood?
It is now my signature, but not back in 2012. Back then the original philosophy of the restaurant was to create a restaurant that was vertically integrated with the ranch, so to use as many products from the ranch as possible to really celebrate the Magors. The Magors don’t use petroleum products. There’s not natural gas produced, no oil, but a lot of firewood. We weren’t going to be using gas, so we used firewood. That’s where the idea started. We went back to Cabo [my first restaurant] the first year, and everything tasted terrible. We couldn’t make it right because we were so accustomed to the wood and fire and the flavor it added.
You have an interesting culinary background traveling in Europe. What do you bring to the table after those culinary experiences, and why open a restaurant in the Valle?
For me, I lived in Europe for 10 years and worked in France, Germany and Switzerland. My favorite place I lived in Europe was the south of France: I liked the climate, the food, the ingredients (seafood coming from the Mediterranean) and the style of wines. I was really happy there. Coming to the Valle I see it being very similar, and I wanted to live here. I’ve made a bunch of changes in my life in terms of location things like that, and every time I leave one it was easier to figure out what I didn’t want to do opposed to what I wanted to do. And I got here and there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about here. This is what I wanted, and I didn’t even know.
What can guests expect from dining at Deckman’s?
They can expect responsible ingredients, prepared simply well. We’re not trying to show anybody; we’re trying to share the ranch experience, share what Rancho Major and what Valle de Guadalupe is. We celebrate the producers of the wines and fisherman. We don’t necessarily celebrate ourselves. For me, if we celebrate the ingredients we get the benefits of that.
How does the story about the Valle complement your story?
There’s a song—I don’t know who its by—but they talk about a climate fits your clothes as opposed to buying clothes for the climate that you’re in. Go to the climate that fits your clothes. Because I think there is a style of living for everyone out there. And people are unhappy because they aren’t in their natural given context. They may never know what this is, and when they do find it to have the feeler-out to say, “Wait, slow down, I think we got something here” Instead of going a million miles an hour. I look at decisions—why did I leave that place? I was always thinking there was something better. How many small decisions in life and how they make an impact on where your road goes. Can’t see where it’s going but you can see what’s in front of you.
I don’t want to grow, just get better at what we’re doing. At my position at the Four Seasons, the manager said to me, “You can’t discount luxury.”
To make reservations visit Deckmans.com Make sure to catch Drew at the Valle Food & Wine Festival Oct. 5-7 and the Celebrate the Craft at the Lodge Torrey Pines on Oct. 28.
Where to Sip & Siesta: Encuentro Guadalupe
Just a short drive from Deckman’s is the Valle’s gem: Encuentro Guadalupe.
“The concept is to come and enjoy the view and connect with nature on the Valle. We offer a place for downtime that has everything in one spot so you don’t have to leave,” says hospitality manager Alma Gonzalez. Encuentro Guadalupe is a 5-star eco-resort glamping experience located in the heart of Valle Guadalupe.
“The idea of the owner Alfredo Acosta and architect Jorge Garcia was they wanted to have a place for people to just come and enjoy the views of Valle de Guadalupe and be in contact with nature and relax. Often people who visit Valle de Guadalupe come for one day and then go home. He wanted to offer a place where people can do wine tasting but don’t have to drive back. Alfredo imagined this place where people can be disconnected from the routine and city and just relax and enjoy a glass of wine. We have 18 single lofts, and guests have access to a small private restaurant for breakfast and snacks.
The Restaurant and Wines
Origen, led by chef Omar Valenzuela, offers seasonal menus using all local products including vegetables from their two small gardens. The winery spans 7 acres and offers a wide variety of wine varieties including viognier.
“We have one pool, jacuzzi, winery, restaurant, restaurant by the pool only for guests breakfast and snacks. There are 18 single lofts and four double lofts with two queen-size beds. The Echo Villa is for 10 people, and the Master Suite is for two people. The Master Suite has been used for albums being recorded, movies being filmed and authors writing books. The best times to come visit are June and October—beautiful view, the weather is warm but not too hot.