As Mexico becomes a more popular destination people are digging deeper and deeper into its culinary and beverage (okay alcohol) history. Mexican wine is not well known, but its history is as fascinating as mezcal, tequila and tortillas.
Mexico was the first country in the Americas to grow grapes for wine making back in the mid 1500s. Los Padres (the Church) planted grape vines as fast as they built missions in northern Mexico. The first grape variety to be planted was the Mission grape, but today there are well over eight grape varieties grown in the Mexico wine regions.
As fast as the grape vines were planted by the Spanish and as well as the grape vines grew, in the late 1600s the Spanish Crown felt threatened by the success of the grape growing industry in Mexico. As quickly as they planted the grape vines, they prohibited the growing of grapes and the making of wine in Mexico. In 1699 The Spanish Crown only let the Roman Catholic Church grow grapes and make wine for religious purposes. Everyone else was banned.
This wine prohibition stopped the production of Mexican wine and subsequently all production in the new world (the Americas). After the Mexican Revolution in 1810, the ban was lifted in Mexico, but competition was too great in Europefor Mexico to compete. It is just in the last decade that Mexican wine has begun to be recognized as an industry worth watching and tasting. 90% of the grapes come from the Baja Region – The San Antonio de las Minas (the Guadalupe Valley is in this region), Valle de San Vicente, Ojos Negros and Valle de Santo Thomas. Many undeveloped regions are perfect for grape growing -Sonora Region, Querétaro, Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. The grape varieties that thrive in these regions are currently used to make distilled alcohol, but watch this grow and develop over the next few decades into a prolific wine culture and boutique vineyard region.
If you want to try and learn more about Mexican wine we have two places to sent you. First, Europea is a large wine store that has knowledgeable staff. Their selection of Mexican wines is extensive and their staff can help you pick out a good one. Europea is located in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, and Cancun. It is our go to place for wine, and we recommend you adopt it as your go to place as well.
The second option for a Mexican wine experience is a wine tasting night at Casa del Agua in Playa del Carmen. Every Friday, Casa del Agua hosts a wine tasting in their wine cellar. Seating is limited so reserve your space. If Friday is not an option for you, slide up to their bar any night of the week and have an impromptu tasting with their bartender.
Do you have a favorite Mexican wine that you would like to share? Let us know!