You have questions, we have answers...
Beyond providing a tour experience that is sure to leave you with lasting memories, your safety and security are our number one priority. We strive to be courteous, professional, prepared and diligent. The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ) about our signature tasting tours to Baja California. As our tours involve travel in a foreign country, we must take certain precautions that may be unfamiliar to you. Accordingly, before booking a tour with us, we ask that you review this FAQ and our Tour Policies. Click the “+” sign next to any Frequently Asked Question below to view the answer to that question. If you should have any additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to having you on tour with us in the near future!
CHOOSING BAJA TEST KITCHEN
Why should I choose Baja Test Kitchen? +
- Baja Test Kitchen is dedicated to curating exceptionally high-quality tours and unique culinary experiences. We are the highest rated tour operator on Trip Advisor and Yelp offering wine tasting, craft beer, and food tours in Baja California. As local residents and foodies ourselves, we take great pride and joy in sharing what we love about Baja California. Our partners and vendors are selected through a rigorous screening process. This selection process places a premium on customer service that goes beyond expectations. Our bilingual drivers/guides are knowledgeable ambassadors of Baja California's wine, craft beer and culinary scene. Based in San Diego, we are a family-owned-and-operated company. Like our winery, craft brewery and restaurant partners, we believe in sustainable culinary practices. We tread light, and are respectful of our status as guests in a foreign country. We are not the low price leader (nor do we strive to be), however our customers repeatedly tell us that we provide exceptional value for the price. We maintain commercial-level Mexican auto insurance on our tour vehicles that will cover your medical treatment in case of a car accident in Mexico; most other US-based and many Mexican-based tour operators don't carry commercial-level auto insurance in Mexico, leaving you personally exposed.
Do you carry commercial-level Mexican auto insurance on your tour vehicles? +
- YES, we maintain commercial-level Mexican auto insurance that will cover your medical treatment in case of a car accident in Mexico. Most other US-based tour operators don't carry commercial-level insurance in Mexico (see FAQ below), leaving you personally exposed. While we take every reasonable precaution to ensure that we'll never get into an accident in the first place (we've never had a accident in our years of tour service), accidents can happen, so we maintain the highest level of premium commercial auto insurance coverage on our US-plated tour vehicles through HDI Seguros, Mexico's top-rated insurance company (HDI is a subsidiary of GE - General Electric). Our Mexican insurance broker (and sister company), Discover Baja Travel Club, has been insuring Americans traveling to Mexico for over 26-years. Beware that many Mexican-based tour companies don't carry or maintain commercial-level auto insurance (unfortunately, this is not well regulated in Baja California).
Isn't all Mexican auto insurance insurance the same? What's the difference between a "tourist policy" and commercial-level auto insurance? +
- Not all auto insurance policies are the same in Mexico. Our research has proven that almost all US-based companies offering tours to/in Mexico are not properly insured in Mexico, which means that you would be personally exposed if you were involved in an accident in Mexico with one of those tour operators. With very rare exception, American-registered vehicles with U.S. license plates only qualify to purchase what's referred to in the Mexican auto insurance business as a "tourist policy" - A TOURIST POLICY WILL NOT COVER PAYING CUSTOMERS (YOU) RIDING IN A US-PLATED VEHICLE IN MEXICO. Furthermore, a U.S. insurance policy will not cover you while traveling in Mexico. You should be very concerned with claims to the contrary, and demand to see proof of commercial-level Mexican insurance before booking your tour with another operator.
- Baja Test Kitchen's sister company, Discover Baja Travel Club, has been insuring Americans and Canadians driving in Mexico for over 26-years. Through a long-standing relationship with HDI Seguros, Mexico's largest and top-rated insurance company (a subsidiary of GE - General Electric), Discover Baja was able to broker commercial-level Mexican auto insurance for all of our US-plated tour vehicles, which means, when you ride with us, you are covered in Mexico.
How long have you been offering tours to Baja California? +
- Our sister company, Discover Baja Travel Club, has been in the Mexican tourism business for over 26 years. Our first tours were offered through Discover Baja Travel Club, before spinning out Baja Test Kitchen in 2015 to focus solely on culinary tours of Baja California. Having guided thousands of Americans and Canadians into Baja California, we are hands down, the most experienced US-based tour company in the Region.
What makes your tours unique? +
- Our expertly curated tasting tours visit the Region's best boutique wineries, craft breweries, and top-rated eateries, delivering a truly intimate tasting tour experience that is nothing like the big-bus tours offered by other operators. We have carefully selected winery, brewery, and culinary partners who focus on small-batch production set in unique environments, where the quality of wine, beer, and food always trumps quantity. In order to preserve the quality of your experience, our partners require advanced reservations, and through long-standing relationships with these partners, we are able to offer you unique tasting experiences that cannot be matched by our competition. We prefer to keep our tour groups small (less than 14 people; many times our tour groups are only 6-10 people), which lends to a more intimate experience. We tread lightly on the local environment, preferring well-appointed vans over big tour busses. Most importantly, we choose to live in Baja California, while many of our competitors live in the U.S. and only cross down to Mexico occasionally. As local residents, we are immersed in Baja's culture and happenings. Many owners of the wineries, craft breweries, and restaurants we visit while on tour have become our personal friends. What we share through our tours is what we've lived. When designing our tours, we draw on our own personal experiences living in and traveling the Region. We treat you like our family and friends; exactly how we'd hope to be treated ourselves.
Which wineries, microbreweries and eateries will I be visiting on my tasting tour? +
- Once you have paid for your tour, we'll program your tour experience and send you a full itinerary that details which wineries/microbreweries, and restaurants we'll visit on your tasting tour. BTK maintains close relationships with dozens of the most exclusive boutique wineries, craft breweries, and gourmet eateries in Baja California. Our partners and vendors are selected through a rigorous screening process. In addition to culinary excellence, this selection process places a premium on customer service that goes beyond expectations. As every tour is unique, we take great care and pride in programing tours that deliver exceptional experience. For private tours, you may request to visit a particular winery, microbrewery or restaurant, and we'll do our best to accommodate your request, based on vendor availability. Please appreciate that we can't divulge our vendors until your tour is confirmed with payment. To get a general idea of the food, wine and experience you might have while on tour with Baja Test Kitchen, we encourage you to view our Tasting Tour Photo Gallery and read our Customer Reviews.
Are your prices competitive? +
- We offer stepped/tired pricing to accommodate groups of 2 or more. The more people in your group, the lower the cost per person. Our goal is to deliver exceptional value, while ensuring your safety. We are not always the low-cost leader, nor do we necessarily strive to be. We curate, program, and deliver exceptional culinary experiences, sparing little expense to do so. For example, while most other US-based wine tour operators don't carry commercial-level Mexican auto insurance, we do (see FAQ above). We treat our customers like family, just the way we'd want to be treated ourselves. On our wine tasting tours to the Valle de Guadalupe, we take you to the best boutique wineries (where tastings are paid), while other tour operators simply shuttle you from one free tasting room to another (in terms of Mexican wines, you get what you pay for). We also take your safety and security serious. Over the years, we have seen many "fly by night" operators enter the local market, offering under-the-radar food and wine tours to Northern Baja, who don't carry proper insurance and are willing to sacrifice important safety precautions in order to offer you lower prices. While our prices may be a tad higher than others, we operate on a rather moderate margin; leaving us to wonder, what do the other guys sacrifice in order to offer their cut-rate prices (proper insurance, vehicle maintenance, etc.)? This might be a good question to ask yourself before booking with another outfit (see FAQ on commercial-level Mexican auto insurance above). Before booking with us, we invite you to read what our customers say about the value of experience we delivered.
Will you match competitor pricing? +
- We'd certainly like to win your business! Before booking your trip with another tour operator, please give us a chance to win your business. Simply send any competitor's full price quote to us, and we'll do our best to beat or match their pricing.
Who is your typical customer? +
- While we regularly host people of all ages and backgrounds, our customers tend to be over 30. We cater to adventurous souls... In your younger years, you may have hitchhiked through Europe, South America or Asia with a backpack on and thumb out. Today, you're still seeking adventure, but your latest treks have you enjoying more of life's little indulgences: exotic locations, good food, excellent company, and comfortable accommodations.
What do your customers say about their tour experience? +
- Our goal is to exceed your expectations. In fact, most people find out about us through our many satisfied customers. We are the highest rated tour operator on Trip Advisor and Yelp offering wine tasting, craft beer, and food tours in Baja California. We invite you to read reviews written by our customers on Trip Advisor, Yelp and Google.
What kind of tour vehicles do you use? +
- Our tours utilize well appointed vans and/or luxury vehicles (SUVs and sedans), depending on the size of your tour group. All our tour vehicles are well maintained, have air conditioning, and are smoke-free. For many reasons and based on our extensive experience leading tours in the Region, for larger groups we prefer to caravan with multiple vehicles, rather than utilize tour buses. Using smaller vehicles facilitates easier border crossings, and safer/more reliable access to tour destinations located off the beaten path. We also feel that your experience of the Region will be better from a smaller vehicle. The Region’s unique rustic landscape and and its access via unpaved roads (what we and others consider its charm), make it incompatible with large tour buses. We maintain commercial-level Mexican auto insurance on our tour vehicles that will cover your medical treatment in case of a car accident in Mexico - most US-based and many Mexican-based tour operators don't carry commercial-level auto insurance in Mexico, leaving you personally exposed.
Where do your tours meet for departure? +
- For same-day and multi-day tours from the U.S., we reccomend meeting your tour guide at, and departing from, one of our two designated meeting points on the US-side of the Mexican border in San Ysidro, California, or Tecate, California (both are border towns just a short distance from San Diego, California). Upon booking your tour, we will email you detailed driving, parking, public transportation, and meeting directions for the designated border meeting point you have selected. For tours originating in or near the Mexican towns of Tijuana, Tecate, Rosarito, Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe, your guide will arrange to pick you up at your hotel or house. For cruise ship passengers arriving via cruise line to the Port of Ensenada, our meeting point at the Port of Ensenada is an easy 5 to 12-minute walk from your ship's mooring location at Ensenada's Cruiseport Village.
Do you offer cross-border transport from the United States? +
- Yes, for an extra fee, you may request to be picked-up and dropped-off at an address in the City of San Diego, based on our availability. If available, there will be a surcharge for cross-border door-to-door transport from San Diego applied to your group. Note that while crossing South into Mexico by car usually poses little or no delay, Northbound border wait times can easily take an hour or more, with weekend wait times averaging more than two hours. To avoid the surcharge and a long border wait, we recommend meeting your tour guide at our designated location on the U.S. side of the border, then walking across together.
Can I take public transportation to the designated meeting point at the US-Mexico border? +
- Yes, but only to the San Ysidro, California meeting point. San Diego MTS operates regular Trolley Service (Blue Line) to the San Ysidro meeting point from many convenient locations in San Diego. To reach the Tecate, California meeting point, you must drive by car – there is no public transportation option available to/from Tecate (neither taxi service, nor Uber, are available to/from Tecate on the U.S. side).
IS BAJA CALIFORNIA A SAFE TRAVEL DESTINATION?
Is Baja California a safe travel destination? +
- With the animosity expressed towards Mexico by our current administration, and the recent US-based press sensationalizing the rivalries between Mexican drug cartels, it’s certainly not unreasonable to question one’s personal safety and proceed cautiously when planning a visit to Mexico. However, as you evaluate your travel plans to Baja California, we suggest that you apply the universal rule of common sense to your decision-making process. Not every region of Mexico is plagued with violence, and by in large, Mexico is a friendly and welcoming tourist destination. We've lived in Baja California and have led tours to the Region for years, and have never witnessed so much as a shouting match between two people, let alone any violence or crime. Police regularly patrol the areas we visit while on tour, keeping the peace and enforcing laws. And our experience is that Mexicans are very easygoing and super nice people. Unfortunately, U.S. State Department travel advisories tend to blanket an entire region, unfairly affecting parts of the region where there are no real issues. And as we always say, if you are looking for trouble (anywhere in the world), you'll likely find it... but if you take reasonable precautions when planning your travel (as we do), and you avoid certain known "bad areas" (as we do), then the chances of getting caught up in anything corrupt, are pretty low… Just as if you were planning a trip to Chicago (the murder capitol of the U.S.), you'd be wise to avoid the bad areas there; but last we checked, a lot of tourists and business travelers are still visiting Chicago without issue. Of course we can never guarantee absolute safety and security (in Baja, or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter), but we also don't believe that travel to Baja California's better known tourist areas poses any particular threat above or beyond those that may be encountered while traveling in the U.S. In the end, before booking your travel, you should make your own evaluation, gauge the risk for yourself, and of course, make your decision in a way that makes you feel comfortable with your choice. If you have specific questions or concerns regarding your safety and security while on tour with us in Baja California, please use our Contact Form to contact us.
What precautions do you take to protect my safety and security while on tour? +
- Your safety and security is always our first priority when programing and delivering your tour experience. We've taken reasonable precautions to ensure that you, your family, and friends have a safe and enjoyable experience while on tour with us in Baja California. First, we are informed with the most up-to-date information on travel in Baja California. As American Citizens living and operating a tour business in the Region, and through our sister company, Discover Baja Travel Club, with it's network of 10,000+ members who frequent Baja California on a regular basis, we have unique insight into the Region's potential security concerns. We also subscribe to the U.S. State Department's travel advisory program, receiving notices of potential travel risks as they occur. Through Discover Baja Travel Club, we have a unique relationship with the Baja California State Department of Tourism which provides us unparalleled access to local authorities in the case of an emergency. Additionally, we constantly monitor a number of Baja California travel blogs, forums, and websites to evaluate potential travel concerns, including road hazards and road closures. We program our routes of travel through well-known and well-frequented tourists zones, avoiding areas of potential concern while driving to/from our tour destinations. These routes are well patrolled and monitored by the local authorities, and well used by other Americans traveling in the Region. We safeguard our routes by only sharing our exact tour itineraries with paid tour participants (including your tour's meeting point with our guide). All of our guides carry smartphones with Mexico cell phone plans, and we use redundant GPS navigation systems to plot our travel. While on tour, our guides check-in with our office several times a day to give updated status reports, and we will never make un-programmed stops except for rare emergency situations. If your guide is busy leading your tour and misses more than one itinerary check-in with our office, as a precaution, our office will reach out to your guide to ensure that your tour is going along as planned. We utilize late model tour vehicles with enhanced safety features (i.e. stabilization control, side curtain airbags, etc.) that are well maintained to manufacturer specifications. Our tour vehicles are covered with commercial-level Mexican auto insurance that will cover your medical treatment and transport if there were an injury accident (note that we've never had a tour-related injury accident). Our guides are trained in basic first-aid, and we carry a well-stocked first-aid-kit as well as an emergency roadside kit in all of our tour vehicles. Our guides speak Spanish, and in case of a medical emergency involving a tour participant, we know the locations of emergency medical facilities in the Region, and how to contact first responders. Finally, unlike many of our competitors, our guides don't "party" with our guests - we don't think it's prudent for our guides to drive while impaired (after all, that's likely one good reason why you hire us to do the driving). In short, we plan for the best, and prepare for the worst - and becasue of this, we are probably more likely to stay out of trouble in the first place.
SCHEDULING & Booking YOUR TASTING TOUR
How do I book a tasting tour? +
- Please complete and submit this tasting tour inquiry form. We will reply to your inquiry indicating our availability for a tour on your requested date(s). If your date is available, we will send you sample itineraries with pricing. If your requested date is not available, we will reply with our next closest availability.
How much do your tasting tours cost? +
- Our custom-designed tours for two or more people are priced according to the experience desired. When completing our tasting tour inquiry form, you should indicate your culinary interests and we'll reply with itinerary options and prices. We offer stepped pricing based on the size of your group: the larger the group, the lower the price per person. If you enjoy meeting other like-minded culinary explorers, a group tour experience may be for you! Check our Scheduled Group Tours page for group tour dates and itineraries.
Can we pay separately for a group reservation? +
- Yes, however split payments (multiple payments for one group/reservation) will be charged an additional $7.00 PER INVOICE administrative fee (e.g. if you want to split your group's invoice 3-ways and pay separately, you will be charged $7 x 3 = $21 administrative fee), and your tour date will NOT be confirmed until ALL payments from your group have been received. For ease of booking, ongoing communication and scheduling coordination, we require that you designate a single point of contact for your group, and recommend that you make a single payment for your entire group's reservation. Smartphone applications like Venmo (https://venmo.com/) may be used to share the cost of a tour booking amongst family and friends (note that Venmo is a 3rd party application, and is not affiliated with Baja Test Kitchen - use such appls at your own will and recourse).
How far in advance should we book our tour? +
- We require booking and payment-in-full at least 3-days in advance of your tour date, however tours are confirmed on a first-pay basis and tour dates book up weeks if not months in advance. When scheduling conflicts occur, priority is given to the customer who pays first. As such, we suggest booking and paying for your tour as far in advance as possible. Weekends and U.S. holidays are our most popular tour dates. Please complete and submit our tasting tour inquiry form to see if your desired date(s) are available.
Why don’t you recommend tours on Mondays? +
- Most Baja wineries, upscale eateries and craft breweries are closed on Mondays. There are exceptions to this rule (including U.S. and Mexican holiday weekends), so feel free to inquire if a Monday is your only option, and we'll do our best to accomodate you.
What forms of payment do you accept? +
- We accept cash, check, and all major credit cards. Payment is only accepted in U.S. Dollars. Please review our Payment Terms & Conditions. Split payments (multiple payments for one group/reservation) will be charged a $7.00 per invoice administrative fee.
What is the minimum age to participate in a tasting tours? +
- 18 years old. Due to Mexican law and constraints placed upon us by our vendors, minors are not allowed to participate in our tasting tours. Proof of age may be requested by BTK staff before participation is allowed.
What kind of physical shape should I be in to participate in your tasting tours? +
- Tours and workshops require that all participants be in good overall physical health and have at least average mobility and strength. You should be able to walk unaided, for a minimum distance of one-quarter mile (roughly 400-meters), and should be able to climb at least three flights of stairs without becoming winded or tired. You should expect to enter and exit the tour vehicle many times throughout the day. Women who are pregnant or people with serious medical concerns, such as heart conditions, back injuries, or other serious illnesses, and/or are not able to meet the above requirements, will not be able to participate. Participants requiring special physical accommodations should contact BTK well in advance of their tour or workshop's start date to make arrangements for such accommodations.
Can you accommodate participants with food allergies or aversions to certain foods? +
- Yes, however you should let us know early in your booking process about the specific food allergies and/or food aversions, so we may program your experience accordingly. When informed at the time of booking, we'll choose appropriate vendors, and work with those vendors to accommodate participants with food allergies or food aversions.
- IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FOOD ALLERGIES & FOOD AVERSIONS: In some cases, your food will be pre-ordered and preparation may begin before we arrive. If you have a particular food allergy or food aversion, PLEASE INFORM BTK of such allergy/aversion in writing prior to your tour date (sooner the better)-- in such communication, please describe which foods/ingredients you should avoid, the severity of any allergic reaction you may have to these foods/ingredients, the medications you carry to treat such a reaction, and any protocol for treatment that should be followed in case of an allergic reaction. Early on the day of your tour, you should also inform/remind your tour guide of any food allergies/aversions. It is ultimately your sole responsibility to double-check with your food server, the ingredients of the foods/beverages you consume, before consuming (when in doubt, ask). All BTK food and beverage vendors utilize kitchen facilities that may process nuts (including peanuts and tree nuts), shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, and honey. We advise you to avoid foods that may cause an allergic reaction - you should carry any medication required/prescribed to treat an allergic reaction.
Can you accommodate vegetarians? +
- Yes, many of our tours can accomodate vegetarians, however you should let us know early in your booking process about specific food aversions, so we may program your experience accordingly. When informed at the time of booking, we'll choose appropriate vendors, and work with those vendors to accommodate participants with food aversions.
Can you accommodate vegans? +
- We can only accomodate vegans on our wine country tours, and only with sufficient advanced notice. Veganism (a plant-based diet that avoids all meat and dairy) is a relatively new and progressive concept in Mexico, and as such, is not supported by most restaurants and food stands. If there is a vegan in your party, please notify us at the time of booking.
Where do your tours start? +
- If you are coming from the U.S., we recommend meeting your tour guide at, and departing from, one of our two designated meeting points on the US-side of the Mexican border in San Ysidro, California (the Tijuana crossing), or Tecate, California (both are border towns just a short distance from San Diego, California). Upon booking your tour, we will email you detailed driving, parking, public transportation, and meeting directions for the designated border meeting point you have selected. Door-to-door cross-border transportation from the City of San Diego may be available at an additional cost (inquire about availability and additional cost).
- For tours originating in or near the Mexican towns of Tijuana, Tecate, Rosarito, Ensenada or Valle de Guadalupe, your tour guide will arrange to pick you up at your hotel or house. For cruise ship passengers arriving via cruise line to the Port of Ensenada, our meeting point at the Port of Ensenada is an easy 5 to 12-minute walk from your ship's mooring location at Ensenada's Cruiseport Village.
Are there any special booking requirements for larger groups? +
- An 18% service gratuity will be added for groups of eight (8) or more, and for all bachelor/bachelorette parties of any size. This gratuity will be used to tip the service staff at the wineries and restaurant(s) we visit, as well as your tour guide.
- A $250 per tour vehicle refundable deposit for damage, excess wear, and/or excess cleaning is required for groups of eight (8) or more, and for all bachelor/bachelorette parties of any size. Your group's organizer/primary contact is responsible for paying this deposit, and the deposit must be received by BTK at least 5-days prior to your tour date. Failure to make this deposit by the required date will constitute your reservation's cancellation without refund. See Payment Terms & Conditions for complete details.
- Split payments (multiple payments for one group/reservation) will be charged an additional $7.00 PER INVOICE administrative fee (e.g. if you want to split your group's invoice 3-ways and pay separately, you will be charged $7 x 3 = $21 administrative fee), and your tour date will NOT be confirmed until ALL payments from your group have been received. For ease of booking, ongoing communication and scheduling coordination, we require that you designate a single point of contact for your group, and recommend that you make a single payment for your entire group's reservation. If we have not received your group's FULL payment at least 72 hours before your tour or workshop's scheduled time, your reservation will be cancelled, and any prior payment or deposit received will be forfeited. If you are your group's primary contact, it is you sole responsibility to coordinate payment for your entire group.
- Change of Tour Group Size After Booking: Once a tour or workshop reservation has been confirmed (paid), you may not change the group size without prior written approval from Baja Test Kitchen. Additions may be allowed on a space available basis, and must be paid for in full and in advance of your tour date (note that additional/supplemental invoices will incur a $7.00 split-invoice administrative fee for every additional invoice). We will not issue a partial refund or credit due to a decrease in your confirmed group size, however you may fill your paid tour or workshop spots with alternate guests who meet the tour/workshop participation requirements, who agree to our Tour and Workshop Policies, and agree to execute and submit our Participation Agreement (release of liability agreement) in advance of the tour date. Participant substitutions will not be allowed on the day of the tour or workshop - all substitutions should be requested at least three (3) days in advance of your tour/workshop start time.
- All other Payment Terms & Conditions apply to groups of 8+ participants.
Why do you charge extra for cross-border transportation from San Diego? +
- While the southbound border crossing usually poses little to no delay, northbound vehicular border crossing wait times can easily span 1-3 hours, and sometimes more during peak times. As with any transportation service, our guides/drivers are paid by the hour, and the extra time and mileage add to our operating costs. Accordingly, we charge a modest fee for cross-border door-to-door transportation from San Diego. To avoid this fee, and to expedite your border crossing, we recommend meeting your tour guide at one of our two designated meeting points on the US-side of the Mexican border in San Ysidro, California (the Tijuana crossing), or Tecate, California - both are border towns just a short distance from San Diego, California. Upon booking your tour, we will email you detailed driving, parking, public transportation, and meeting directions for the designated border meeting point you have selected.
PLANNING & Preparing for Your Tasting Tour
Does everyone in my group need to sign a Release of Liability Agreement? +
- Yes, we require every individual participating in our tasting tours to complete, sign, and return our Participation Agreement (release of liability) prior to their tour date. Please select the appropriate Participation and Release of Liability Agreement based on your tour's point of departure (U.S. or Mexico). Your agreement may be completed, e-signed, and submitted online. Participant Agreements must be signed and submitted in advance of your tour date. You may not complete/submit a Participation Agreement on behalf of another participant; every participant must complete and submit their own Agreement themselves. As our tours travel in/to a foreign country, we cannot allow for "surprise" tours -- all tour participants must have adequate time to prepare for their tour, to review the Agreement's Terms and Conditions, and agree to them. We ask that Participation Agreements be submitted at least three (3) days in advance of your scheduled tour date (sooner the better). We cannot accept modified agreements, nor make modifications to the Participant Agreement (release of liability agreement). To offer our service and to keep our and your costs low, it is imperative that all tour and culinary workshop participants agree to ALL of the terms, conditions, and provisions of our Participation Agreement - this is an absolute requirement for participation. If you cannot agree to a particular term or condition, you should not book the tour/workshop with Baja Test Kitchen, and you should not participate in such tour/workshop.
What should I do to prepare for my tasting tour? +
- You and members of your group should read this FAQ as well as our Tour Policies at least seven (7) days in advance of your tour date. After reading this FAQ and our Tour Policies, should you have any other quesitons or concerns, please contact us.
What identification is required to participate? +
If your tasting tour requires cross-border travel, in order to gain re-entry to the United States, U.S. citizens will be required to show a valid U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card or SENTRI Card. Non-U.S. citizens will be required to show proof of residency (i.e. a Resident Card, aka a “Green Card”) or a valid passport and Visa (or Visa waiver) allowing for multiple entries into the United States. For more information on re-entry requirements see http://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/cross-us-borders. For travel in Mexico, you will need to carry a valid passport or passport card (SENTRI and Global Entry cards are NOT valid forms of identification for Mexican authorities). We also request that you carry a second form of government-issued photo identification (i.e. state issued driver's license or ID card). You should make two (2) color photocopies of your identification; bring one copy with you, packing/carrying it separated from your actual ID, and leave the other with someone at home who will be available on the day(s) of your tour in case you were to lose your original ID. Cruise ship passengers must also carry the identification issued by their cruise line -- this identification is required for re-entry to the Port's secured facility.
Your BTK tour guide, trip director, or workshop leader may ask you to show your passport (and Visa if required) before allowing participation in BTK tours, trips, and activities - failure to show that you have in your possession the travel documentation required by law, will result in the immediate cancellation of your reservation without refund, credit, or rescheduling - you will not be allowed to participate.
Will my cell phone work in Mexico? +
- Most U.S. cell phone companies have partner carrier contracts with mobile carriers in Mexico. However, roaming fees may be very expensive without a Mexican plan, and actual reception may be limited. You should check with your cell phone company about roaming and data prices for Mexico before your tour. We advise you to turn off data roaming or put your phone into "airplane mode" before crossing the border.
How should I dress for the tour? +
- All participants should wear comfortable closed-toed shoes. High-heel shoes and sandals are not advised. Generally speaking, there is not a strict dress code for most restaurants, wineries, and craft breweries in Baja California. However, Mexican culture and general decorum suggests that people entering such facilities should dress respectfully. Mexicans usually dress in chic yet casual attire when visiting their wine country. Tour participants should dress with comfort and function in mind. Dressing in easily-removable layers is recommended. Daytime temperatures in Baja California regularly go above 85-degrees Fahrenheit (or hotter), while nighttime temperatures may dip into the 50s. You should check the weather forecast the day before your tour to ensure that you and your family are dressed appropriately for the conditions.
What should I bring on tour with me? +
- You and members of your group/family should bring the following items: valid passport/passport card and secondary form of government-issued photo identification, cruise ship identification (if applicable, issued by your cruise line & used to regain entry to the Port/ship), medications (you must carry your doctor's prescription with you, and the name on your prescription must match the name on your passport or passport card), sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, sweater or light coat (check weather forecast), umbrella if forecast calls for rain, one bottle of water per person, a credit card (with chip), and cash for purchases not covered by the tour fee. Each person in your group may bring one (1) SMALL bag (purse, small knapsack, or one small tote bag - it should fit under your seat in the tour vehcile, or on your lap) to carry your personal items. Due to space constraints, we cannot accommodate larger luggage pieces unless you've made specific arrangements with us ahead of time (at least 7 days in advance of your tour) and we've specifically approved your luggage (you'll need to send us the dimmension(s) of each piece of luggage). We suggest leaving all non-essential items from your purse or wallet at home-- bring just what you need for the tour.
What should I NOT bring with me to Mexico? What items are prohibited in Mexico? +
- We prohibit the carrying or transport of the following items on our tours: all food items, weapons, firearms, ammunition, knives (including pocket knives), illicit or illegal non-prescription drugs (including drug paraphernalia), tobacco products, vaping products (including vaping paraphernalia), fireworks, and incendiary devices. Recreational marijuana and medical marijuana are NOT legal in Mexico, even with a doctor's prescription, and must not be transported in our vehicles. For a more comprehensive list of prohibited items, please visit http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/cbp-reqs-mexico. Pets are NOT allowed in our tour vehicles, nor on vendor property. Unfortunately, Mexican laws regarding accessibility for service animals are not the same as in the U.S. Accordingly, some of our vendors do not allow service animals on their property. Smoking (including "vaping") is not permitted during tours, as we and most of our vendors are 100% smoke and vape free. You will not be permitted to smoke or vape in our cars, at rest stops, or on vendor property (even if it's allowed by the vendor). We advise against bringing large sums of cash, valuable jewelry or watches, designer handbags, expensive camera equipment, computers or tablets, and other item(s) of high monetary worth. Your tour vehicle will be left unattended several times throughout your tour, and as such, we request that you not leave any items of value in an unattended vehicle. We suggest leaving all non-essential items from your purse or wallet at home-- bring just what you need for the tour. While theft is very rare in Mexico, Baja Test Kitchen is not responsible for your lost, stolen or damaged items.
Can I bring my own food and beverages with me? +
- NO. We do NOT allow food or beverage (including but not limited to snacks, coffee, sodas, candy, fruit, seeds, nuts or gum) to be eaten or transported in our tour vehicles, with the sole exception of one (1) small bottle of drinking water per person. Because we are often crossing an international border with our tour vehicles, we simply can't risk having prohibited foods in our vehicles. U.S., California and Mexican laws prohibit the transport of certain foods, food products and beverages over the International border (both directions). We cannot risk being in violation of these laws, and as such, we simply do not allow any food or beverage to be transported in our tour vehicles. Our vendors also prohibit the consumption of outside food or beverage on their property. Under no circumstance will you be allowed to consume alcohol in our tour vehicles. If you have a medical condition that requires you to consume specific foods or beverages, you should make special arrangements with us well in advance (at least 7 days) of your tour date. Remember, you are on a culinary tour-- we will feed you (there will be PLENTY of food and beverage available throughout the day), and if you get hungry while on tour, just let us know. Most of our tour participants eat so much while on tour, they don't eat dinner!
Do you allow smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco on your tours? +
- Out of respect for our other guests and staff, smoking (including "vaping") is NOT permitted during tours, as we and most of our vendors are 100% smoke and vape free. You will not be permitted to smoke, vape, or chew tobacco in our vehicles, at rest stops, or on vendor property (even if it is allowed by the vendor). If you are not able to make it through an entire day without using tobacco products, you should not book this tour. Tobacco products and vaping products are regulated across the U.S./Mexican border, and as such, are not allowed in our tour vehicles (please don't bring them with you).
Can I bring my prescription drugs, or medical marijuana? +
Marijuana, including recreational or medical marijuana, is illegal in Mexico, even when prescribed by a doctor. The transport of any amount of marijuana over a federal border is a felony in both the U.S. and Mexico. Accordingly, you may NOT transport marijuana (including marijuana paraphernalia) in our tour vehicles. You may bring those prescription drugs which are legal in Mexico, so long as you carry your doctor’s prescription with you (the actual prescription may be required, not just what is printed on the bottle), the prescription is valid (within the date(s) of your travel to Mexico), and the name on your prescription EXACTLY matches the full name on your passport document. All prescription drugs carried into, or in Mexico, or back across the U.S. border, must be carried in their original bottle, with your name and the drug’s name clearly printed by the pharmacy on that bottle’s label. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities; for a one-day tour, a rule of thumb is to travel with no more than a 30 day supply. For more information about transporting prescription drugs across the U.S./Mexico border, please consult the CBP’s website: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/67/~/traveling-with-or-mailing-medications-and-medical-devices,-such-as-needles-or.
BEFORE TRANSPORTING ANY DRUG (PRESCRIPTION OR OTHERWISE) IN OUR TOUR VEHICLE, YOU MUST ADVISE YOUR DRIVER/GUIDE BEFORE ENTERING THE TOUR VEHICLE AND BEFORE CROSSING THE BORDER. YOUR DRIVER/GUIDE HAS THE ULTIMATE SAY IN WHAT WILL BE ALLOWED IN OUR TOUR VEHICLE AND YOU MUST RESPECT HIS/HER DECISION. ALL DRUGS MUST BE DECLARED WHEN CROSSING THE BORDER - BOTH DIRECTIONS).
Are tips/gratuities included with my tour fee? +
- You may want to tip your tour guide/driver at the end of your tour (see below for tipping guidance). For "all inclusive" tour itineraries, your guide will take care of tipping your servers at the wineries, craft breweries and restaurants on your itinerary. For "pay-as-you-go" itineraries, you should plan to tip winery, brewery and restaurant servers yourself (tipping standards are similar to those in the U.S). And while there is no specific requirement to tip your tour guide/driver (except for groups of 8 or more - see below), if you feel you've had an excellent tour experience and you'd like to show appreciation to your guide, gratuities are certainly appreciated.
- TIPPING GUIDANCE: For full-day private tours of 2 or 3 people, the average tip our guides receive is $100-$150 for the day. For groups of four of more, the average tip our guides receive is $30 per tour participant (roughly equates to the 18-20% you would expect to tip at a bar or restaurant; your gratuity is distributed to the service staff at the tasting rooms and restaurant(s) you visit on tour). Not only do our guides take great care and pride in delivering you a safe and enjoyable tour experience, a lot of "behind the scenes" pre-planning, training and preparation goes into every tour. For example, most people don't realize that our guides are up very early on the morning of your tour, washing and prepping your tour vehicle for the day. Ultimately, tipping is up to you. We only provide this guidance because it's one of our most frequently asked questions.
- GROUPS OF EIGHT (8) OR MORE, AND ALL BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE PARTIES: An 18% service gratuity will be added for groups of eight (8) or more, and for all bachelor/bachelorette parties of any size. This gratuity will be used to tip the service staff at the wineries and restaurant(s) we visit, as well as your tour guide.
- PRIVATE TOURS: An 18% service gratuity will be added for all private tours of any size. This gratuity will be used to tip the service staff at the wineries and restaurant(s) we visit, as well as your tour guide.
Do wineries, restaurants and other businesses in Mexico accept U.S. dollars and credit cards? +
- All of our vendors accept U.S. dollars, and some accept U.S. credit cards, however exchange rates will vary, and are set by each individual vendor. Be aware that your bank/credit card may charge "foreign transaction fees." You should check with your bank/credit card before using your card abroad. When paying with U.S. dollars, in some cases vendors may make change in MXN pesos at their posted exchange rate (this is normal). We advise you to bring a variety of small bills to avoid change being made in Mexican Pesos.
ON THE DAY OF YOUR TOUR
How much wine or beer can I bring back to the United States? +
- Generally, one liter of alcohol per person, for personal use, may be entered into the United States duty-free by travelers who are 21 or older according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We require that all tour participants strictly adhere to this regulation.
Can I purchase wine or beer from Mexico online? +
- Some of our winery and craft beer partners have distribution channels in the United States and Canada. You may inquire at the wineries or craft breweries on your tour itinerary, or visit their websites.
How much should we tip our tour guide/driver? +
- Our guides tip winery and restaurant staff on your behlaf throughout the day. If you feel you've had an excellent tour experience and you'd like to show your appreciation to your guide, gratuities are certainly appreciated. For full-day private tours of 2 or 3 people, the average tip received is $85-$100 per day. For groups of four of more, the average tip is $25 per tour participant per day (roughly equates to the 15-20% you would expect to tip at a bar or restaurant; your gratuity is distributed to the service staff at the tasting rooms and restaurant(s) you visit on tour). Not only do our guides take great care in delivering you a safe and enjoyable tour experience, a lot of "behind the scenes" pre-planning, training and preparation goes into every tour. For example, most people don't realize that our guides are up very early on the morning of your tour, washing and prepping your tour vehicle for the day. Ultimately, tipping is up to you-- our guides/drivers have no pre-set expectation for receiving tips (except for groups of 8 or more - see below). We only provide this guidance because it's one of our most frequently asked questions.
- GROUPS OF EIGHT (8) OR MORE, AND ALL BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE PARTIES: A 15% service gratuity will be added for groups of eight (8) or more, and for all bachelor/bachelorette parties of any size. This gratuity will be used to tip the service staff at the wineries and restaurant(s) we visit, as well as your tour guide.
Which border crossings will we take? +
- For tours from the U.S., unless you have paid our surcharge for door-to-door cross-border transportation service from San Diego, you will meet your guide at our designated meeting point in San Ysidro, CA (the Tijuana crossing), OR Tecate, CA, on the U.S. side of the border, then walk across together. At the end of your tour, your guide will drop you off on the Mexican side of the border, directly in front of the pedestrian entrance to the U.S. Customs & Border Inspection Station.
- For tours that have paid for cross-border transportation, in most cases, tours departing from the San Diego area with Valle de Guadalupe, Tijuana or Ensenada itineraries, will use the El Chaparral Point of Entry at San Ysidro. Returning from Valle de Guadalupe, Tijuana or Ensenada, our guides will consult a border wait time application that accesses the CBP's border data and choose the border crossing with the lowest reported wait time. In addition to El Chaparral/San Ysidro, we may also choose to cross at the Otay Mesa, or Tecate border crossings. Tours to Mexicali usually cross at either the Calexico West Port of Entry or the Calexico East Port of Entry. In all cases, we reserve the right to choose the most appropriate border crossing, based on the information at hand.
How long is the border wait going Northbound? +
- If you meet your guide in San Ysidro, CA at our designated meeting point, and are walking back across the border from Tijunana at the PedWest border inspection station, the average wait for the Northbound pedestrian line is 5-15 minutes Monday-Thursday (with holiday and seasonal fluxuations), and 15-minutes to 1+ hours or more on the weekends (with holiday and seasonal fluxuations).
- If you meet your guide in Tecate, CA at our designated meeting point, and are walking back across the border, the average wait for the Northbound pedestrian line is about 5 to 10 minutes (many times much less).
- If you have paid our surcharge for cross-border vehicle transportation, it's very difficult to predict what the border wait time will be on the day of your tour. There are many factors which may affect the border wait, including (but not limited to) CBP controls, being sent to secondary inspection, Mexican or U.S. holiday traffic, time of day, weekend vs. midweek, summer holiday traffic, road conditions, and weather. We've crossed the border in less than 30-minutes, and in more than 2-hours. Generally speaking, we budget about 1.5-hours and hope for better.
- We advise against making critical plans or commitments (flights, dinner reservations, etc.) for the evening of your border crossing, as we cannot guarantee your arrival time in the U.S. Unfortunately Baja Test Kitchen has no way to affect your border crossing time-- please appreciate that it is completely out of our control. Before entering the border line, we will make a bathroom pit stop if requested.
Can I use my SENTRI or Global Entry Card when we cross back into the United States from Mexico? +
- Yes, and no. You may present a valid and activated SENTRI Card or Global Entry Card (in lieu of your passport) to the CBP officer as identification when crossing back into the United States at the point of entry. If you have a valid and activated SENTRI or Global Entry card, please bring it along with your paspport on the day of your tour. Note that Mexican authorities do not recognize these cards in lieu of a valid passport or passport card. As such, all BTK tour participants who are U.S. citizens must ALSO carry a valid U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card. Non-U.S. citizens must have a valid passport and visa (or be subject to a visa waiver for your country) to enter/re-enter the United States. Please note that you must activate your SENTRI or Global Entry cards prior to use; otherwise the entire vehicle may be sent to secondary inspection. If you have a valid/activated SENTRI or Global Entry card, please bring it with you.
Will our tour utilize the SENTRI, Global Entry or Ready lanes when we cross back into the United States from Mexico? +
- If you have a valid and activated SENTRI or Global Entry card, please bring it along with your paspport on the day of your tour. For tours that have paid for cross-border vehicle transportation, unless everyone in your tour vehicle has a SENTRI, Global Entry, or U.S. Passport Card (this is very rare) and the vehicle is registered with the SENTRI program (most of our tour vehicles are registered), your tour will utilize the standard vehicle lane(s) at the port of entry. In any case, if we are transporting your across the border, you should plan that we will use the standard vehicle lane(s).
What items are prohibited when crossing back into the United States? +
- CBP maintains a list of Prohibited and Restricted Items. While some food items may be allowed by CBP, please note that Baja Test Kitchen prohibits the transport of ANY food or beverages in our tour vehicles (with the exception of 1-liter (1-bottle) of sealed alcohol per person 21-years old or older, up to 1-liter of sealed olive oil purchased on tour, and one small bottle of drinking water). You must declare these items to the officer when crossing the border into the U.S.-- your guide/driver will make the declaration on your behalf.
Should I turn my cell phone off before crossing the border into Mexico? +
- If you do not have a Mexico plan for your cell phone, we advise you to either turn your phone off completely, turn off data roaming, or set your phone to "airplane mode" while traveling in Mexico. Otherwise you may end up with rather high international roaming charges on your next bill. We advise you to consult with your mobile phone carrier before traveling with your phone into Mexico.
Can I eat or drink in your tour vehicles? +
- NO. We do not allow food or beverage (including but not limited to snacks, coffee, sodas, candy, fruit, seeds, nuts or gum) to be eaten or transported in our vehicles, with the sole exception of one (1) small bottled water per person. Because we are crossing an international border, we simply can't risk having prohibited foods in our vehicles. U.S., California and Mexican laws prohibit the transport of certain foods, food products and beverages over the International border (both directions). Our vendors also prohibit the consumption of outside food or beverage on their property. Under no circumstance will you be allowed to consume alcohol in our tour vehicles. If you have a medical condition that requires you to consume specific foods or beverages, you should make special arrangements with us well in advance (at least 7 days) of your tour date. Remember, you are on a culinary tour-- we will feed you (there will be PLENTY of food available throughout the day), and if you get hungry while on tour, just let us know. Most of our tour participants eat so much while on tour, they don't eat dinner!
May I smoke, vape or chew tobacco on your tours? +
- NO. Out of respect for our other guests and staff, smoking (including "vaping") is NOT permitted during tours, as we and most of our vendors are 100% smoke and vape free. You will not be permitted to smoke, vape or chew tobacco in our vehicles, at rest stops, or on vendor property (even if it is permitted by the vendor). Should you not be able to make it through an entire day without smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco, you should not book this tour. Tobacco products and vaping products are regulated across the U.S./Mexican border, and as such, are not allowed in our tour vehicles (please don't bring them with you).
REFUNDS, RESCHEDULING & CANCELLATION POLICY
Are tours cancelled because of bad weather or rain? +
- Our tours are conducted rain or shine. Unless we deem that your/our safety is at risk (in our sole, yet reasonable discretion), your tour will run as scheduled. Please check the weather forecast for your tour destination the day before your tour, and dress/prepare accordingly.
What if I need to reschedule my tour? +
- As our tours require travel in a foreign country, more than the usual amount of planning and preparation go into providing you a seamless and enjoyable tour experience South of the border. Our vendors require advance reservations, and we too are beholden to their cancellation policies and fees. Accordingly, our Payment Terms & Conditions stipulate that if you aren't able to make your confirmed tour date, you must inform Baja Test Kitchen in writing (via email sent to email@example.com) at least 72-hours prior to your tour's scheduled start time. Tours cancelled before 72-hours from your tour's scheduled start time may be rescheduled to another available date within three (3) months of your original reservation date, by paying a rescheduling fee (see our full Payment Terms & Conditions for other rescheduling stipulations and requirements). In this case, you must contact us to reschedule your tour date within 72-hours of canceling. Failure to contact us within 72-hours of canceling will result in forfeiture of your ability to rescheduled your tour. Rescheduling is subject to our availability.
What is your cancellation policy? +
- Our cancellation, rescheduling and refund policy can be found on our Payment Terms & Conditions page.
What if I am not satisfied with my tour experience? +
- Our goal is your satisfaction. In fact, most people find out about us through our many satisfied customers. While on tour, if there is anything we can do to make your experience more enjoyable (within reason of course), please don't hesitate to ask your tour guide/driver. We'll do whatever we can to ensure that you have a great time. Please direct any complaints or compliments to our management using this contact form.