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Wine in Baja

During the pre-Columbian era in Mexico, the indigenous people used the vine to make a drink mixed with fruits and honey, this drink is called acachul and it is still consumed in some parts of the country; however, the Indians did not know the wine. During the era of conquest, the colonists needed wine as a fundamental part of their daily intake and the missionaries required it to officiate mass, so they quickly imported European grapes and developed their production in New Spain. They started harvesting around the city of Mexico, capital of the viceroyalty, in Querétaro, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí.

Subsequently, the fertile lands of the Valle de Parras, Baja California and Sonora were used for their cultivation. The Jesuits cultivated the grape in their missions of Baja California and the Franciscans did it in California. Friar Junípero de Serra established 21 missions from San Diego to Sonora, the wine they produced was recognized for its quality throughout Mexico. The grape that these missionaries planted was called the mission grape, now it is known as criolla.

Hernán Cortés, governor of New Spain, ordered in 1524 that each settler should plant 1,000 feet of vine for every one hundred Indians. In 1539 the captain Francisco de Urdiñola established the wine cellar of the Hacienda de Santa María de Parras, in Coahuila. After this great boom, the Spanish crown feared that the wines of New Spain would compete against those produced in Spain, for which reason it prohibited the planting of vineyards in Mexico, although it allowed to continue using the vineyards that already existed. The missionaries refused to abide by this provision and continued to produce wines in New Spain, albeit on a smaller scale.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the production of wine in the world was severely affected by political conflicts and wars, having adulteration, fraud and overproduction. During that time, wine in Mexico also suffered difficulties because most of the vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera (plague that attacks the vine) and political conflicts. In 1920, Mexico returned to produce wine, but they were of very poor quality due to the lack of knowledge about winemaking, the bad condition of the equipment and the poor selection of varieties.

Starting in 1970, Mexican wines improved thanks to the creation of associations of winemakers, a better quality of life, commercial efforts of the major brands and the correct selection of grape varieties. The per capita consumption of wine in Mexico was one third of a bottle during the 1970s and is currently around 200 milliliters, which is negligible compared to 62 liters in Italy, 58 in France and 45 in Spain.

In 1987, twenty-four million bottles of 750 milliliters were sold in Mexico, 98% of them were of national production. Currently, 80% of the Mexican grape is used in the production of table wines for national consumption and export. The varieties of grapes produced in Mexico are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Garnacha, Claret, Tempranillo, Malbec, Syrah, Petit Syrah, Ruby Cabernet, Sangiovese, Cariñena, Salvador, Alicante, Barbera, Zinfandel. , Mission and Nebbiolo; plus Chardonay, Savignon Blanc, Ungi Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Palomino, Verdona, Fume Blanc, Semillion, Feher Zagos, Malaga and French Colombard.

The Mexican industry currently offers 200 different types of wines, which have won more than 300 international awards and recognitions in the last 15 years. The wine production of Baja California is from Mexicali to Ensenada, an area known as the wine strip with a good influence of the marine winds.

The climate of this region favors high quality crops for its wet winters and dry and temperate summers. The most important growing areas are Valle de Guadalupe, Valle de San Antonio de las Minas and Valle de Calafia to the northwest of Ensenada, Valle de Santo Tomás and Valle de San Vicente to the south of Ensenada.


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