Bernal is a small town in the State of Querétaro founded in 1642 that is situated below the Peña de Bernal, the world’s third largest monolith or single massive stone rock. It is a about a thirty to forty minute drive from Querétaro, the capital, and is about an hour and half to a two hour drive from San Miguel de Allende. It is a charming small town that has received Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns) designation. It is centered around a small square and the San Sebastian Church.
It is a fun place to wander and check out the small shops and galleries. You can enjoy a coffee, ice cream or lunch as you explore.
My recommendations include:
Since I was there on the early side before a winery tour and tasting, two of the recommended restaurants I wanted to try were not yet open for lunch. These were Folk, a contemporary gastropub, at Aldama #11 and Arrayàn Cocina Mexicana at Calle Ignacio Zaragoza 6 in the Casa Tsaya Colonial Hotel.
I did enjoy a casual breakfast/lunch at Centenario Hotel and Restaurant in Centro at Aldama #6 in its attractive courtyard.
If you did want to spend the night, Casa Saya Hotel Boutique at Calle Ignacio Zaragoza #9 is a lovely contemporary property along with the Arrayàn Restaurante.
Ruta del Queso y Vino
Nearby are a number of wineries and cheese makers that you can explore in the surrounding area in Ezequiel Montes. My recommendations for a fun experience include:
Finca Sala Vive by Freixenet Mexico: On the Carr San Juan del Rio – Cadereyta Km. 405, this is a very large facility that is part of the group from Spain. This facility in Mexico produces a large number of white wines, red wines and sparkling wines that are shipped throughout Mexico. 40% of the grapes come from their own vineyards with the other 60% purchased by other growers.
You can grab a bite and sit on the patio enjoying one of their wines or take a number of tours and or tours/tastings. I opted for the 90 minute tour and tasting. Here you explore the production facilities and cellars below along with a seated tasting of three wines in their lovely tasting room. I thought the Merlot Rosado or Rose was particularly good as was the Cuatro Regiones red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The Chardonnay Brut Nature was a good sparkling wine choice that was made from Chardonnay grapes. The tour and tasting was in Spanish but you can ask questions in English if you have one. I suggest buying your tickets online before you go.
The winery also has a number of fun events throughout the year including a Bubbles Fest in March, a Paella Festival in May and an Art and Jazz Festival in November.
Other nearby wineries that come highly recommended include Vinedos Azteca across the highway from Freixenet. Recommended by a San Miguel chef and food tour leader, this is a great spot for tours, tastings and special events. Unfortunately they were closed when I was there. Another local contact recommends De Cote Casa Vitivinicola a short drive away. They are known for their wines along with a bistro and a restaurant for dining while there.
The other winery I visited was Vinedos La Redonda in Ezequiel Montes. This is a lovely property that has a separate tasting room along the road as you enter the property. I would recommend taking a tour or visiting the winery to buy some of their wines in order to see the beautiful grounds. They have a very large patio for special events and tastings with great views. They produce a number of whites, reds and a rose. The Cabernet Rose was really excellent and I enjoyed a bottle at my home in San Miguel. San Juan del Río-Jalpan de Serra Km. 33.5.