The ghost of wine travels through Mexico

The ghost of wine travels through Mexico

Leopoldo Mitre – July 7, 2015

Silent but steady, growth of the Mexican wine industry would surprised any business analyst: 12% per annum sustained for ten years. The quality of wine has been key.


Mexican wine tradition is like a ghost of legend, almost as old as the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The first vineyards in Mexico were planted in the capital of the New Spain, located in what is now the city of Mexico. And although the skirts of the Hill of Chapultepec was not the best place to plant the vine, other places were propitious areas so the missionaries began to produce wines of good quality. This situation propitiated that the Spanish colonists already did not see need to keep on importing Spanish wine, thing that the producers of wine in Spain did not liked. Therefore they influenced King Felipe II so that in 1595 it was throwing a decree that was ordering to exterminate all the vineyards reached on the New Spain and was prohibiting to plant new.

The following 300 years were a kind of dark time for this industry, which was reborn just the last century, but that has done what was necessary to reclaim their territory. Quiet and stealthy but with a firm step, the Mexican wine industry has already won enough adepts as to not turn back or a step in the field who has travelled and livestock. Only in recent years the category of “Reds” has grown at a pace that would shock any business analyst: a strong and steady 12% per annum during the last decade. And although among the general population still have a basis for the consumption very marginal in comparison with other countries, the outlook for this industry has been very fortunate if we believe that the average growth rate for the Mexican economy for the same period was 2.4 % per year.

Not for nothing appear each year more national winemakers along the 7 or 8 wine-growing areas in the country. The market is growing and demands more and better options. In fact, for those who are considered oenophiles or at least amateur wine lovers, everyday is increasingly easier to find Mexican wine options at grocery stores that compete in price with the offer of Chilean, Argentine, Spanish, Italian and French wines. And although the leadership to deal with the offer of wines imported still is only a few houses wine national who can offer more competitive prices due to its high volume of production, producers of Premium wine – sometimes called “author wine” – have not been idly and have based their marketing strategy over the last 20 years in the quality of their wines.

And the fact is that the wine industry in Mexico is today at a great moment. It has the elements to stop being a bogey and becoming present with more force:

First, the market is in frank growth and there exists a wide base of young consumers who are eager to learn on a drink relatively new or not known in its daily ingestion. Only like fact to exemplify this intensive growth; in three years the consumption per capita of wine spent from 500 to 750 millilitres a year. And the expectation is that before 2020 we come to 1.5 litters for person, what leaves still a wide margin if we think that in European countries the consumption goes of the 35 to 40 litters per year for inhabitant.

Second, as an industry, Mexican wine has a complete freedom to innovate. Mexican producers do not have to adhere to the restraints imposed by the Appellations of Origin. Today, winemakers in Mexico have given permission to experiment and thus to discover what are the best strains, techniques and the best mixes best suited both to the specific region (Ensenada, Chihuahua, Parras de la Fuente, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Queretaro, Dolores Hidalgo,) among others as the consumer’s palate. This is something that countries like France, Spain or Italy already can do so easily and therefore not always their products can be adapted to the Mexican cuisine or the taste of the consumer.

Third: quality of our wines. Increasingly they are becoming more and more respected in the world. And it is not accidental. Since 30 years ago an important group of Mexican agronomists and oenologists began to specialize in high quality wines and today many of them are at its best. Everyday are more wine houses that are earning gold and silver medals in the competitions of the world’s most respected wine contests. On the other hand, although the price of this type of bottles is still a brake for the mass market, are not out of proportion when compared to the price of the great wines of other regions.

In a fact the wine market will continue to grow at a double-digit rate and ensuring that the domestic industry has the capacity to respond to the local market is a huge challenge. But in winning this challenge we can ensure a strong Mexican wine brand, which later can also compete in other markets.

It is still missing very much so that this industry reaches high flights on a global scale: support programs are needed for the field that allow to amortize the cultivation investments to detonate the plantation of more hectares of vine, the producers must find the formula to keep on stimulating the preference of its products on the internal market and is a must to professionalize human capital formation efforts to have Teachers and PHD’s winemakers from Mexican universities.

But Mexican wine is on track, and although it is still a ghost that wanders from here to there, their presence is becoming more noticeable. So, please try Mexican wine, you will find a fine and quality product. And in doing so you are contributing in the resurface of the ancestral Mexican wine tradition. That is why I #enjoymexicanwine (AKA #tomovinomexicano).