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 Tsaya Hotel Boutique at Calle Ignacio Zaragoza #9 is a lovely contemporary property along with their kühi Restaurante.
Nearby at Calle Ignacio Zaragoza #6 is Arrayán Cocina Mexicana for excellent Mexican dishes. It is rated as one of the top restaurants in town.
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.
Freixenet, a benchmark for wine production worldwide, has 23 wineries in countries such as Spain, Germany, Argentina and Mexico.
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.