The Mexican wine industry gets a boost from tourism

The wine producer Cuna de Tierra has launched a series of tourist products, including grape harvests, business meetings, food and music festivals.

Mexican wine. Poto: Alcaldes
Mexican wine. Poto: Alcaldes

In 2008, Ricardo Vega, owner of a ranch in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, which he inherited from his father and which produced vegetables, mainly poblano chili, decided to turn 180 degrees and enter the wine business.

Together with his partner Raul Velez, who had 30 years of experience in the wine business, many of them working in Domeq, and Don Juan Manchon, neighbor and oenologist, created Cuna de Tierra winery, which today has 30 hectares of vines in production and this year will give 120 tons of grapes of different varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Semillon, Moscatel and Tempranillo, with which they will produce 100,000 liters of wine equivalent to 120,000 bottles of wine.

But that's not all: in these 11 years of life, the quality of its wines has earned it more than 50 international medals, seven of which it recently won at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

That quality and international renown has also allowed them to attract tourism from Mexico City, León, San Luis Potosí and Querétaro, a market of more than 30 million people that was key for Ricardo Vega and his partners to take the next step: launch a series of tourist products, including grape harvests (last August was held the IX Edition of La Fiesta de la Vendimia), which on average receive 1,500 attendees; business meetings, gastronomic and music festivals (last October was held the first edition of the festival Cuna de Tierra Vineyard Music Experience) and tours of the vineyards, which include tasting, food pairing and sensory tasting in group.

And this new business, says Vega, is the future not only of Cuna de Tierra, but also of Mexico's wine industry.

"Why? For one simple reason: with these events, you build brand loyalty and attract young people, the next generation of customers. Today, the annual per capita consumption of wine in the country is just 900 milliliters, while in countries like France it exceeds 30 liters; hence the importance of spreading the wine culture nationally through wine tourist routes, such as the one being created in Guanajuato, where there are already 30 vineyards and seven wineries.

We are developing new events to attract different customer segments; in May we have an international cheese competition, with the participation of cheesemakers from France, Spain, Italy, the U.S., and Mexico. In terms of wine production, Vega estimates to reach 40 hectares of vineyards and produce 150,000 bottles of wine per year, and reach new international markets. "We are beginning to export to cities like Chicago, California, and Texas, in the U.S.".

Source: Alto Nivel


When talking about wines in the world, there are countries that inevitably and recurrently come to mind: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Chile. There will also be those who include Australia, South Africa and the United States on the list. Very few, however, will mention Mexico and Mexican wine.

There are several reasons why Mexico is not considered a wine country. The most obvious is geographical: the wine belt in the northern hemisphere is between 30 and 50° latitude, and most of the national territory, with the exception of Ensenada, is outside that belt. Of course, it would have been different if Mexico had not lost more than half of its territory to the United States: today the Napa Valley would be a national heritage.

With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico was deprived not only of territory, but also of full access to the wine belt. If it is any consolation, something similar happened to Peru with Chile after the war of the Pacific that developed between 1879 and 1883, and that derived in the loss, on the part of Bolivia, of its exit to the sea, while Peru had to cede territories that today correspond to the north of Chile, This includes not only the production of red and white wines, but also grape distillates such as pisco, a subject of controversy, by the way, between the two nations - even in Peru a pisco is marketed whose name is "El pisco es peruano carajo!"

In addition to geography, Mexico is associated, when it comes to spirits, with tequila, that blue agave distillate that has a protected appellation of origin - at least in five states of the country certainly headed by Jalisco, plus Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas - and which, in the case of the Tequila agave landscape, Jalisco, is part of the World Heritage recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

What about beer?

That is another very popular drink and whose consumption is widespread among the Mexican population: so much so, that Mexico ranks sixth worldwide and second in Latin America as a beer drinker. Thus, beer intake per month is estimated at 6.1 liters per capita, although in December it increases to 7.9 liters. 69 percent of Mexican households have beer at the disposal of family and friends and is the equivalent in soccer games to what popcorn in the movies.

Despite the taste for beer, in reality, the drink preferred by Mexicans is not spirit: it is soft drinks. Compared to the more than 70 liters of beer per capita per year, the average Mexican drinks 163 liters of soda in the same period, which makes the country the champion in the consumption of this drink worldwide. Do not lose sight of the fact that the sugar/fructose used to sweeten soft drinks far exceeds the amount of sugar recommended by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) as a risk factor for the development of diabetes, obesity and other chronic-degenerative diseases that cannot be transmitted.

Consequently, according to the above, Mexico is not a regular wine consumer, as is the case in Chile, Argentina, Mediterranean cultures, and so on. It is estimated that, per year, in Mexico only drink between one and a half liters of wine per inhabitant - in some of the most traditional countries, are consumed between 20 and 45 liters per person and the extreme is the Vatican, with the world record of 60 liters per person each year.

The tax situation of spirits in the country is a factor that inhibits their consumption and production. Specifically speaking of wine, while in European legislation it is considered a food, in Mexico it is classified as a luxury product and, therefore, has a tax burden that not only makes it more expensive, but also inhibits the development of the wine sector at the national level. Another element to ponder is that all inputs for wine production are imported. This explains why, of every 10 bottles of wine consumed in Mexico, seven are foreign; not enough is produced at home to supply domestic demand.

In Mexico, there is an estimated 4,000 hectares of vineyards -less than the surface area of Uruguay, a small South American country that, despite this, has 6,343,000 hectares and certainly much less than Spain, which has 969,000 hectares or 13 percent of the world's vineyards.

According to the Mexican Wine Council, there are 14 states in Mexico that produce wines, the vast majority outside the wine belt but that benefit from microclimates. In addition to the famous Ensenada Valley in Baja California, which, as explained, is barely touched by the wine strip, there is a winery of great tradition and reputation that is Casa Madero, the oldest in America, founded in 1597 and based in the valley of Parras, Coahuila. In addition to these two states, different grape derivatives are also produced in Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Puebla, and Querétaro.

Despite the fact that Mexico is not one of the main producers, nor among the great consumers of these wines worldwide, wine consumption has grown significantly in the past five years. It is the Mexican Wine Council itself who says that while in 2012 they drank 450 milliliters of wine per capita annually, in 2018 the figure had increased to 960 milliliters in 2018.

Wine is an aspirational product, whose consumption tends to increase when the standard of living of the population improves. This is the case of the People's Republic of China, which currently has the second largest vineyard on the planet - 875,000 hectares - which although they are used mostly to produce table wine, are also used to make wine that is sold in that country.

Previously in Mexico, the wine was associated with longer generations, possessing a high purchasing power and was considered an expensive and ostentatious product. Today the new generations have come closer to this product. Today, they like to buy bottles of wine to enjoy with friends, couples or family. One factor to highlight is the growing consumption of wine by women, as a result of their participation in the labor market, by generating their own income and, as explained, because this drink is aspirational.

Unlike soft drinks, wine shares nutritional properties with food, as it contains proteins and vitamins, while the calories it contains do not have as much fat or sugar as those. Wine also has antioxidant qualities - that is, it slows down aging - and supports the cardiovascular system. Consumed in moderate quantities, it makes a very important nutritional contribution to people.

Unfortunately, in Mexico, the companies that produce soft drinks have contributed to spreading urban legends against wine consumption, and even against coffee consumption -Mexico generates high-quality coffee of the Arabica type, but what Mexicans drink the most is instant coffee, made from the Robusta variety, which is of lower quality than Arabica and is seasoned with numerous chemical products.

Any overconsumption is harmful to health

This is an assertion supported by nutritionists and health professionals. It is as bad to consume soft drinks in the amounts that the Mexican population does, as the consumption of alcohol, coffee, beer and so on in excess. The idea, therefore, is not to demonize beverages such as soft drinks or soda or instant coffee, but to understand that as long as they are consumed in moderate quantities, they will pay for better health of people. In the same sense, a greater consumption of wine, in moderate quantities, of course, would make an important nutritional contribution to the population.

What type of wine do Mexicans consume? Above all, they like still wines, despite the fact that there is an important production of sparkling wines. 64% of wine drinkers prefer, above all, red wines. An encouraging fact is that, although imported wines dominate the market, Mexican wine consumption has grown at a double-digit rate in recent years.

Thus, to reach a scenario of greater consumption and even export of Mexican wine, there are many things that should be done. The road is not easy, but Mexico is on the right path to consolidate as a land of wines. Companies, government and society can make this product a cultural, economic and contributing element to the welfare of the population. That said, cheers!

By María Cristina Rosas Source Alcaldes de Mexico

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Mexico was placed, for the first time in history, in the Top 10 countries with the highest number of labels awarded in the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Brussels 2019.

The personalized wine Caipirinha 2016 is another Mexican pride. This red wine produced by the wine house "El Cielo" was named 'Red Wine World Revelation' among more than 5 thousand labels at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2019.

The personalized wine Caipirinha 2016 is another Mexican pride.
The personalized wine Caipirinha 2016 is another Mexican pride.

A jury composed of 340 experts recognized 39 Mexican wine labels (25 silver medals, 12 gold, and 2 gold), of which 70% correspond to 12 wineries associated with the Mexican Wine Council. "Mexican Wine is experiencing one of its best moments.

"The winning labels show the work that dozens of national winemakers are doing in terms of innovation and technology to produce great wines that stand out at a global level," said Gabriel Padilla, Director of the Mexican Vitivinicultural Council.

He also recognized "Valle de Guadalupe Wines" for being the Mexican winery to obtain the highest number of medals in the Contest, as well as the highest award given to red wine, thanks to its label Caipirinha 2016 (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Nebbiolo, and Malbec).

The winning wineries associated with the Mexican Wine Council were: Finca Sala Vivé de Freixenet, Wines El Cielo, Casa Madero, Puerta del Lobo Vineyards, Bodegas de Cote, Guanamé Winery, Pedro Domecq House, Xanic Mountain, Encinilla Wines, Don Leo Vineyards and Vineyards San Miguel.

He recalled that the work performed by the wineries associated with the Mexican Wine Council has contributed to the per capita consumption of wine in Mexico has increased in recent years to reach 960 milliliters in 2017.

He also noted that in 2018 was presented the Collective Mark of Mexican Wine, a distinctive that ensures the quality and origin of the wine will allow the consumer to better identify the attributes corresponding to the labels, such as flavor, aroma or region.

By Mexicanist