When you think about Mexico’s heritage, it makes sense that wine would be as popular here as it has been for centuries in Europe.
When the first Spanish settlers came to New Spain in the 16th century, they brought vines from Europe with them. Even before the Spanish conquest, Mexico had its own indigenous grapes. However, it was discovered that Spanish grapevines grew very well in the colony.
Although Mexico is the oldest wine grape growing region in the Americas, its wine products are not that well-known. One reason may be because Mexican wines are taxed at 40%, making domestic wines quite pricey and not economically viable when pitted against South American wines from Chile or Argentina. However, wine consumption in Mexico has been growing rapidly since the late 1980’s.
Mexican Wine Growing Regions
Today, there are three major wine producing areas in Mexico, known as the North, the Center and La Laguna.
The North includes areas in the states of Baja California and Sonora 90% of Mexico’s wine is produced. Enotourism is heavily promoted here. The area is home to the “Ruta del Vino” (Wine Route), which connects over fifty wineries and other tourist attractions with the port of Ensenada and the border cities of Tijuana and Tecate. The annual Vendimia Harvest Festival is another draw.
La Laguna, straddling the states of Coahuila and Durango, is home to the Parras Valley. At an altitude of 1,500 metres (about 5000 ft), the valley is blessed with a microclimate that is excellent for growing grapes. The oldest winery in the Americas, Casa Madero, was established here in 1597. Most of the area’s production consists of Bordeaux-style reds but some whites are also produced.
The Center region is located in parts of Querétaro, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. The vineyards here are mostly found at an altitude of 2,000 metres (6,500 ft) where cool winters and somewhat cool summers combine to produce fast-maturing grapes with high sugar content. Much of the wine produced here is of the sparkling variety.
Varieties of Mexican Wine
Mexican vintners produce a variety of red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Mexican reds can be quite hearty, full-bodied and often with a fruity taste. These pair well with the spicy, rich sauces and condiments typically found here.
A number of grape varietals are now being grown in vineyards throughout Mexico. Amongst the most popular are Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Nebbiolo.
The whites – typically Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc – offer mineral elements. They are the perfect match for the wonderful fish and shellfish dishes prepared with freshly-caught seafood from our bountiful Mexican waters. Here’s my favourite way to enjoy a delicious Mexican white.
A trip to any local wine shop offers endless opportunities to create your own Mexican wine tastings. Although Mexican wines do tend to cost more than their north and south-of-the-border cousins, they are certainly worth trying out whilst you are here.
Another great way to discover the beauty of Mexican wines is to book a home during the Punta Mita Gourmet and Golf festival. Here, in our very own backyard, vintners from all over Mexico come to offer tastings, flights and pairings. There’s also some great background information about the history of the wineries, the growing conditions and – in some cases – the hospitality they offer to guests who would like to stay with them.
If you would like some Mexican wine recommendations to enjoy on your vacation, I would be very happy to offer up a few of my favourites. We can also arrange wine tastings for you at either of the hotels or with a private sommelier at your villa. Or, we can put together a Mexican wine pairing dinner for you to enjoy at your rental property. This is a great opportunity to enjoy ALL the great flavours that Mexico has to offer! Contact our concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
— Miguel C
Bon vivant, gastronome and all-around great guy – Miguel Neves de Carvalho brings you the best of what Punta Mita and the surrounding area have to offer. His passions include polo, horse riding, rugby, cigars and most recently … golf.
Miguel lives in Punta Mita with his youngest son, his fiancée, Lisa, and his two dogs “Tanqueray” and “Tonica”.
He started Punta Mita-Rentals in 2012.
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Photography by Kemi Vernon. See more of her work at www.kemivernonphotography.com