With Cinco de Mayo, we thought we’d turn you on to some hot news in the wine world. Mexican wines not only exist—they’re surprisingly delicious. Of course, Mexican wine itself isn’t new. After all, the very first winery in the entire Americas--Casa Madero--was established in 1597 in the Mexican town of Santa Maria de las Parras (Holy Mary of the Grapevines), and the winery continues to thrive today.
What is new, however, is the hip, young quality-oriented wine industry that has grown up primarily on the thousand-mile-long Baja peninsula just south of California. Here, the climate is Mediterranean-like and cold air from the Pacific Ocean acts as a giant air conditioner, cooling the grapes. The wine valleys extend, like spokes of a wheel, from the thriving port city of Ensenada, a two hour drive south of San Diego. (If you visit, don’t miss Ensenada’s famous fish tacos in which Pacific lobster or shark are deep fried then wrapped in fluffy homemade flour tortillas). Of all of these valleys, the most renowned by far is the Guadalupe Valley, considered Mexico’s “Napa Valley.” Here, along the largely unpaved Ruta del Vino (Wine Route) are some 70 wineries, many of which are terrific to visit.
Mexican wines are based on a whirlwind of diversity. The three main grapes used in top wines are tempranillo, nebbiolo and cabernet sauvignon, but many other varieties appear to do well including syrah, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, pinot noir, mourvèdre, grenache and petite sirah among reds; and among whites, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, viognier, and chenin blanc. Rarely are grapes made into mono-varietal wines. Instead, virtually all wines are blends.
Currently some fine Mexican wines can be found in the U.S. primarily in the southwest and in southern California, but the selection is so much better in Mexico itself. So on your next Mexican vacation, save those margaritas for the beach, and come dinnertime, have a fine (Mexican) wine. Among our favorite producers:
Have you tried any Mexican wines recently? Let us know below.
Photo Credit: Adobe Guadalupe