Our neighbors to the south are better known for beer and distilled agave spirits like tequila and mezcal, but did you know Mexico is also the oldest wine making region in the Americas? But even as the birthplace of wine in the Western Hemisphere, Mexican wine defies convention. It’s no surprise that the diversity in wine styles aligns perfectly with the country’s “mestizaje” identity. Its winemakers continue to explore styles and varietals, while refining Mexico’s expression of “sense of place.” Even with all this dynamism and innovation Mexican wine is still under the radar. So how do you become an “early” adopter of wines that were first bottled in the 1530’s by Spanish missionaries? Who are the producers to know now?
BDX to the BC
As the largest wine producing region in Mexico, the Valle de Guadalupe is home to the largest number of wineries, ranging from legacy producers to newer upstarts. With close to 90% of Mexico’s production, most wines available north of the border are from Baja. And one of Baja’s brightest stars continues to be Ensenada native Lulu Martinez Oveda left for Bordeaux where she worked for a decade at Chateau Brane-Cantenac in Margaux. Returning to Baja in 2014, Lulu consulted for the region’s foremost wineries, including Bodges Henri Lurton, until she became head winemaker at Bruma, a winery that has also become well known for its resort and restaurant. She’s also the head winemaker at Palafox, another winery rooted in tradition. Bringing her French training to Baja, Lulu has helped influence the overall style in the region, with a nod to refinement and more restrained winemaking. As one of the few women winemakers in Baja, her wine has not only received awards and international acclaim, but she also serves as an inspiration to other women in Mexico’s growing wine community–a sector that continues to remain overwhelmingly male.
What Lulu brought to Baja with her French training, the Magoni family has done for over 50 years with their Italian traditions. With roots from Valtelina in northern Italy, Camilo Magoni had been making wine commercially for over 40 years at L.A. Cetto then established his own Bodegas Magoni in 2002. In addition to producing their own award-winning wines, the Magoni family is one of the largest growers in the Valle de Guadalupe and their clients are some of the most well-known of the Baja wine suppliers. Growing more than 100 different grape varietals on more than 278 hectares, Camillo has created the largest experimental vineyards in Baja and is considered a steward for the winemaking community.
Climate Cool & Conscious
Despite winning multiple awards and having one of the best-selling brands in the U.S. the “five amigos”of Madera 5 wines remain unpretentious and unassuming. With their early beginnings making wine in true “garagiste” fashion in an actual garage at Aragon 126 in 2007, their wines are approachable and affordably-priced even while focusing on sustainable winemaking practices. Partner and winemaker, Victor Segura has committed to sourcing 100% of his grapes from the Valle de San Vicente, with a vigilant eye on quality, consistency, and climate conscious practices. With 30 years in the hospitality industry and also crafting wine at the famed Las Nubes, Victor is mindful of sustainable production and preserving the environment in Baja’s exploding wine scene.
Wine from Mexico is vino con alma! Stay tuned as we continue to explore and educate on the dynamic wines from Baja and the other exciting regions of Mexico!