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Believe it or not, Mexico makes wine too! The first vineyards in North America were planted in Mexico. Here Wine Folly gives a little overview of what’s to know about modern Mexican wine country.
Grapes were first planted in Mexico during the 16th century by the Spanish. Despite the region’s long history, the advance of modern Mexican wine is as recent as the 1970s. The region is a melting pot of French, Spanish, and Italian grapes, from Nebbiolo to Chenin Blanc, making up 7,700 acres of vineyards. Wine blends are quite popular here, although they don’t always follow European traditions. For example, you might find Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Grenache and Barbera. More recently, single varietal wines are also gaining in popularity. Mexican wine is still very much a frontier of wine.
Due to the fast growth of Mexico’s wine country, sources tell us that Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Tempranillo are now the most planted wine grapes of Mexico.
*Red Wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Grenache, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Petite Sirah, and Pinot Noir.
*White Wines include Chardonnay, Chasselas, Chenin Blanc, Macabeo (aka Viura), Muscat Blanc, Palomino, Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
How can wine grapes grow in such a hot climate?
For those who know, the 30th parallel (above and below the equator) is considered the theoretical boundary of successful grape growing. So it might be a surprise that a region so close to the tropics such as Mexico can grow grapes at all. Fortunately, the region is arid and vineyards are located at high altitudes, which provide more cooling breezes and an increased diurnal shift (e.g. it’s cold at night). Of course, because it’s so dry, irrigation is almost always required.