When I came for the first time in Mexico, I discovered that this country does produce wine. I had to try some. What a nice surprise. Why is that, that nobody knows about Mexican wines ?
I always look for a French wine when I travel. But one evening, the Headwaiter of ” La China Poblana” in Puebla was sorry as the restaurant was out of French wines. He recomanded that I should try a bottle of Mexican wine, and I am so pleased I did.
The history of Mexican wine production begins in the 1500s, when Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors exhausted their supply of wine while overthrowing the Aztecs. He ordered the colonists to plant 1000 grapevines for every 100 native “employees. The Spanish conquistadors had vines brought over for religious mass, and more likely, wash down their food. With failed attempts to grow grapes in the more tropical regions of Mexico, the first grapes, known as Criolla (the mission grape of California and the Pais grape of Chile), were successfully planted in the Parras Valley of Coahuila. Growing in Puebla and Zacatecas soon followed. The first Mexican wine estate, Casa Madero, was founded in 1597 by Lorenzo Garcia in Santa Maria de los Parras in Coahuila and still exists.
After Mexico’s War of Reform in 1857, all of the Catholic land holdings, and the vineyards, were seized by the government and became property of the state. These were then sold to a private group of investors who to this day operate as the Bodegas Santo Tomas.
Prestige wine production in Mexico, began in the 1980s with the promotion of modern techniques. Many of the grapes grown are of either French or Spanish origin. The main grapes for reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Grenache, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tempranillo. Whites are Chardonnay, Chasselas, Chenin Blanc, Macabeo, Moscatel, Palomino, Riesling, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
But ultimately, the move put pressure on them to create better quality wines to compete with foreign imports.