2017 Baja (& Baja inspired) Fests!

It’s warming up; daylight savings time has begun; and (I hope) the heaviest rains are behind us. We’re heading into Baja festival season! Here are a few of our faves; check back for updates and additions.

Sabor Latino – Saturday, March 18, Fashion Valley, San Diego – We were impressed by this event last year, and it looks like even more Baja chefs and wineries are participating in 2017. Lineup includes Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense; Bo Bendana of Mi Casa Supper Club; Giannina Gavaldon of Olivia El Asador Del Porvenir; Ruffo Ibarra of Oryx Capital; and Omar Armas of Mantou Gastropub, with Border X Brewing, Lomita, Adobe Guadalupe, Torres Alegre, Villa Montefiori and Casa Magoni pouring. All part of the San Diego Latino Film Fest, and proceeds benefit the very worthy nonprofit Media Arts Center. I’ve been told that the promo code DRINKGREATBEER will get you a $5 discount, and we highly recommend going for the VIP package. Details & tickets>>

Chef Giannina Gavaldon with her comadre from Olivia at Sabor Latino 2016. Not only is her food delicious, it’s great to see her in SD and we covet Chef’s cool ikat apron!

Festival de Las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo – Sunday, April 23, Hotel Coral, Ensenada. This event, which kicks off the Baja Food Fest season every year, is a REAL winner. It got a bit crowded last year, but still plenty of opptys to taste great wine & cuisine while meeting some of Baja’s top winemakers & chefs, all in a fabulous setting along the Coral’s marina. Get ready to sample fantastic clams, mussels, oysters, abalone + latest wine releases, all included! Tix are just a tad over $30. Read my post about Conchas last year and get your 2017 tickets here!>>

Why do we love Conchas? It educates you about the variety of Baja seafood while you enjoy a lovely afternoon sampling delicious shellfish and wines. And you meet cool folks, too!

Rosarito Art Fest – Saturday & Sunday, May 27-28, Rosarito Beach – Dates have not been posted for 2017, altho it’s regularly on Memorial Day wknd. This FREE event features great art, crafts, music and dance, and there’s usually plenty of food and drink to go around, too. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more info>>

Art is the main attraction, but you can definitely enjoy eating & drinking at the Rosarito Art Fest.

Vinedos en Flor – Saturday, June 3, Finca La Carrodilla, Valle de Guadalupe – Last year this event was at Bibayoff on a drizzly, gray afternoon. Since food was not included and there was no live music, it didn’t seem as great a value as some of the other Baja festivals. But we managed to commandeer a table, taste some great wines and make new friends. We have high hopes for the 2017 edition, to be hosted by one of our faves, Finca La Carrodilla! More info>>

Friends enjoying wine from the wonderful Lechuza at last year’s Vinedos en Flor.

Verbena Campestre – Saturday, July 29, Vinedos San Cosme south of Ensenada – This may be the best-kept secret of all Baja food fests; it doesn’t seem to be on the gringo radar screen! Get ready for a fun, relaxing afternoon with folks who will become your new BFFs. With great live music and a big outdoor dance floor, this family-owned winery knows how to party! Tip: book a room in the vicinity; driving back after THAT much fun can be challenging. Or, is it just us? Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more info>>

And . . . even more friends at Verbena Campestre 2016!


Fiesta de la Vendimia Paella Fest – Sunday, August 20, Valle de Guadalupe – you can’t miss this tradition, the grand finale to the annual grape harvest festival. Although it’s huge, there’s plenty of paella and wine to go around, along with two stages with live music and tons of tables under the trees. All paella is cooked over wood fire, and there’s a competition among the paella-producing teams. Tix usually go on sale in May and you should get them ASAP; it always sells out! More info>>

The annual Vendimia Paella Fest is not only delicious and fun, it’s also very photogenic!

Sabor De Baja – Wednesday, August 30 – Rosarito Beach Hotel – we were very impressed with Sabor last year. The caliber of restaurants and wineries was excellent at this well-organized event, which pairs dishes by Baja chefs with delicious local wines and cervezas. Look for more details in the coming months!

We look forward to Sabor de Baja 2017!

Gracias for photos by Bob Gove and Rafael Rush.

Why you need to visit Baja this weekend

We’re really looking forward to the weekend! At last year’s Baja Blues Fest we bought a single raffle ticket and (hooray, luck!) won the grand prize, so we’ll stay at the Rosarito Beach Hotel (a tiny upgrade from Bob’s palatial seaside estate) and enjoy a couples’ massage at the RBH spa, in the beautiful edifice that was formerly the home of the RBH’s owners. The main reason we’re heading south this weekend is the Festival de las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo. It’s the culmination of four days in Baja, including abalone cultivation site visits, workshops + more. Ensenada/Valle restaurants (Boules, Malva, Manzanilla, Deckman’s, Corazon de Tierra + Traslomita) are also planning special dinners Thursday + Saturday. We’ll enjoy the Grand Festival at a lovely setting just outside Hotel Coral, north of Ensenada on Sunday, April 3 starting @ noon; it was one of our fave Baja fests last year, well organized, not too crowded, everyone in a great mood and opportunity to chat w/chefs. More than 40 restaurants (offering varied treatments of clams, mussels, oysters and abalone) + 54 wineries will participate! And tix are reasonable: about $30 online including service charge + currency conversion. HINT: pack a wine glass to avoid buying one onsite. WILL WE SEE YOU THERE?

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Gracias por fotos from 2015 Festival de las Conchas y el Vino Nuevo by Bob Gove.

Upcoming Events in SD + BC

Spring has almost sprung. What does that mean? Festival season is upon us! Here are a few events on the eatdrinkbaja radar screen. Check back again, as more events will be posted soon!

Saturday, March 19 Sabor Latino, Fashion Valley


This event, benefiting Media Arts Center San Diego’s youth media scholarships and part of the San Diego Latino Film Festival, boasts some great Baja chefs, including Miguel Angel Guerrero of La Querencia + La Esperanza, Diego Hernandez of Corazon de Tierra, Oso Campos of Tacos Kokopelli + Martin San Roman of La Terrasse San Roman PLUS Border X Brewery, Adobe Guadalupe, Villa Montefiori, Lomita + Vena Cava. $35/advance seems quite reasonable!

Saturday, March 19 + Sunday, March 20, Latin American Art Festival, Liberty Station

LAAF 2016

We were unable to attend last year, but this FREE festival claims to feature Baja chefs + wines in addition to more than 100 artists. We think it’s worth a check-out!

Sunday, April 3, Festival de Las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo, Ensenada

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This grand tasting was our runner-up for fave event of 2015, second only to the Vendimia Paella Fest, the granddaddy of all Baja food fests. At Conchas you’ll find more than 40 chefs serving up clams, mussels, oysters + abalone, raw & cooked to perfection, with about as many wineries pouring. Food station, winery lines were not long; chefs were happy to meet/chat; a great mix of locals + gringos in attendance; entertaining + educational cooking  demos. A fantastic way to spend the first Sunday in April for about $30 US! Highly recommended. Read about our visit last year. 

Winning Wine

We were excited to see one of our favorite wines from one of our favorite wineries – Lomita in Valle de Guadalupe – spotlighted as Wine of the Week by Michele Parente in The San Diego Union-Tribune. To quote Michele, Pagano is “made of 100 percent grenache . . . a crimson-colored pleaser with a youthful brightness in the glass and red berries and smoky caramel undertones on the palate.” Pagano is available on this side of the border for $28 at Whole Foods, 3rd Corner in OB and via OWC wines; frankly, I don’t believe we paid more than $18 when we purchased it after tasting at the beautiful Lomita winery. Definitely a worthy wine, and a recommended stop when you are in the Valle!

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Bonus Baja: Michele also reports that the Baja Wine Club will hold its first anniversary tasting Thursday, September 24 (tomorrow!) at Savoie French Italian Eatery at Otay Ranch Center. Sounds like a deal: five wines (from Vena Cava, Legado Sais, Bodegas San Rafael, Bodegas de Santo Tomas & Emeve) for $25 advance/$30 door. And the tasting benefits Dr. Betty Jones’ wonderful Hospital Infantil de las Californias!

Baja Wine Club 1st Anniv


Best Bet: Latin Food Fest

This weekend’s Latin Food Fest is shaping up nicely. The Grande Tasting is Sat. 11am to 3pm @ the Port Pavilion just N of USS Midway. With food & bev included, it’s a good value for the $$, & a very fun scene. PLUS it benefits our local YMCA! Especially looking forward to Kokopelli, La Diferencia, Fortaleza & Pura Vida Tequilas, Lomita, Cava Aragon 126 & Vinisterra. And I hope to interview emcee Ana Saldana, national TV host & Chef of “Historias Sabrosas” on Canal 22, who’s doing  a cooking demo @ 1:10 pm. Will we see you there?

LFF crowd

Eat Drink Baja Events Calendar

Here @ eatdrinkbaja, we noted the need for a calendar that curates, promotes and links to interesting Baja-related culinary & beverage events & festivals on both sides of the border. Presenting our first draft; look for it to grow as we head into the busy Vendimia & Baja Culinary Fest seasons over the next few months!

Ruta del Vino

Saturday, July 18: Ruta del Vino Bike Ride

The inaugural 40-mile race and 20-mile fun ride through Valle de Guadalupe promises wine tastings, cuisine from award-winning chefs and live local music (oh, and clean restrooms, too). Put on by the Rosarito-Ensenada Bike Ride folks, so it’s gotta be good, right?

Verbena Campestre

Saturday, July 25: Verbena Campestre, Vinedos San Cosme, south of Ensenada

A best bet; we’ll be there! $20 (or a bit less if you can figure out where to buy tix in advance) gets you a commemorative glass, wine tastings, live music and a fun, festive atmosphere. Not sure if food is included; we’ll find out! Look for a report after July 25. We’re really looking forward to our first visit to this annual event, which seems to be completely off the gringo radar.


Saturday, July 25: Wine Tasting & Baja Ingredients, Mingei International Museum, Balboa Park
If we weren’t heading to Verbena Campestre to actually BE in Baja, we’d be here for sure. Mingei has recognized the important connection to Baja for years, thanks to the direction of Rob Sidner & outreach of Johanna Saretzki. Four or five years ago we learned about wineries like Lomita (off our favorite Valle de Guadalupe back road, the road to Ejido Porvenir) and food purveyors such as Baja Terra through Mingei events, and have since become fans/patrons of both. If you can’t get to Ensenada or the Valle, don’t miss this great taste of Baja in Balboa Park!

AUGUST CALENDAR: Stay tuned! It will be posted this weekend.