Very few people realize that the oldest continually operating winery in all of the Americas (North, Central, and South America) is in Mexico. Established in 1597, Casa Madero (originally Bodega San Lorenzo), was assigned a land grant in the Valle de Parras, Coahuila in northern Mexico to plant vines and produce wine, as authorized by King Philip II of Spain. But even fewer people realize that the number of wineries in Mexico has quadrupled in the past decade, and that many of them are adopting sustainable farming practices.
“The development of premium wines is not new in Mexico, and the number of wineries and national wine consumption is increasing every year,” reported Carlos Borboa, Mexican wine expert and Director of all the Americas for México Selection by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, “Also, there is a real intention to become more sustainable in the Mexican wine industry, and some wineries are already certified ‘organic,’ with the USDA National Organic Program standard.”
Number of Mexican Wineries Reaches 400+ in 2022
In 2012 there were around 100 Mexican wineries, according to Wines & Vines Analytics; whereas at the end of 2022, there are reported to be over 400 wineries in Mexico. This information was gathered by Sergio Gonzales, a Mexican wine writer and sommelier, who recently completed a comprehensive research project on the topic. He consulted multiple sources, including the Mexican Wine Council, the OIV, and the 15 Mexican states that currently produce wine, in order to complete the study.
Gonzales reported in a recent presentation, “By the summer of 2022, Mexico had 35,900 ha. (88,700 acres) of vineyard:, out of which 8,600 ha (21,251 acres) are used for wine production and grape must, representing a steady average growth rate of 10% per year.”
Additional 2022 Mexican wine statistics revealed in the report include:
- Mexican wine was valued at $2,468 million market worth
- National consumption: 15 Million cases
- 1.2 liters national per capita consumption
- 5 out of every 10 bottles consumed in Mexico are produced domestically
- Mexican exported 14, 580 hectoliters of wine in 2021
- Main importers: 44% USA, 12% Japan
According to the report, the largest wine producing region in Mexico is the Baja Peninsula, where around 260 wineries are now located, producing 70% of all Mexican wine. Current production in Baja is 70% red wine, 20% white, 8% rosé, and 4% sparkling. The second largest producing wine region in Mexico is the state of Coahuila, with 22 established wineries, over 1000 hectares of vineyards, producing 6,000 tons of grapes per year. This is also the oldest Mexican wine region, and the home of Casa Madero winery.
Growth of Sustainability Initiatives Amongst Mexican Wineries
Many Mexican wineries are pursuing sustainable farming practices, though very few are formally certified. This is because Mexico does not yet have its own 3rd party sustainable wine certification organization. However, several wineries have become certified organic and/or biodynamic with international certifying agencies.
“Casa Madero in Coahuila, is certified organic according to the USDA organic certification,” stated Carlos Borboa. He also cited Finca La Carrodilla Winery in Baja and Bodega Dos Buhos winery in Guanajuato as being certified organic. Santos Brujos Winery in Baja is not only certified organic, but has also received the Demeter Biodynamic certification.
There are many wineries that are using sustainable practices,” explains Borboa, “but in the end, it is important to be declared with certification. Given our climatic conditions, which are rather dry in spring and summer, the Mexican vineyard has an advantage that allows it to limit treatments and switch more easily to agriculture labeled ‘organic’.”
Indeed, several winemaker and winery owners described some of their sustainability efforts during a recent Coahuila wine region tour. At Rivero Gonzales RGMX Winery, winemaker, Jose Sanchez Gavito described how they were using pecan shells from their organically certified pecan orchard to use as fertilizer around the grape vines. They have also focused on the social equity side of sustainability by employing their workforce year-round, with work in both the vineyards and pecan orchards.
At Vinicola Parvada Winery, co-owner Federico Villarreal Gomez, described some of the re-generative agriculture practices they were implementing with cattle. The grazing cattle are able to assist with tilling of the soil with their hooves, as well as providing natural fertilizer.
At Casa Madero, owners and brothers, Daniel and Brandon Milmo, provided a tour of their 60 hectare organic vineyard, and discussed practices they were using to adjust to global warming, such as providing more shade to the grape clusters by only removing leaves from one side of the vines. They also use cover crop to reduce erosion and provide a habitat for beneficial insects, as well as control pests with natural minerals and botanicals.
The Future of Mexican Wine Looks Rosy
With such rapid expansion of vineyards and wineries in Mexico, the future appears to be bright, as long as there is a market for the wine. However, according to Borboa, “In Mexico, there is a feeling of national pride for Mexican wine. We are now seeing the appearance of new grape varieties on the market that can only increase the curiosity of consumers.”
One style of wine in Mexico that appears to be gaining much popularity is rosé wine (as it is doing in other parts of the world, as well). “The evolution of rosé wines is now accentuated,” reported Borboa, “because it responds to a very interesting demand – that of young consumers – who are increasingly numerous and who are seduced by its color, and gastronomic agreements with spicy dishes from Mexico that combine perfectly.”
Another advantage, according to Borboa, “is the possibility of developing vineyards in higher altitudes to take advantage of cooler climates,” in order to address the issue of global warming.