Mexican wine is without walls–and we are all the better for it! As the oldest wine making region in the Americas, Mexican wine defies convention. 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, it is 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 its expression of the region’s sense of place. So with all this dynamism and innovation, who are the producers to know now?
A little Bordeaux with your Baja?
An 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. 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 Cetto patriarchs have done for almost 100 years with their Italian heritage. With roots from Trentino in northern Italy, L.A. Cetto has been making wine commercially for over 30 years, building on family traditions of winemaking since 1928 when Don Angelo Cetto planted varietals from his native region. Sangiovese and Nebbiolo flourish in their adoptive home with the latter finding its own unique expression in Baja. In fact, a genetically distinct Mexican Nebbiolo endemic to the region distinct from its northern Italian namesake, is known for resulting in delicious wines. Winemakers take pride in this varietal claiming there’s no better pairing than Mexican Nebbiolo with Baja cuisine.
How Spain Reigns in Baja
Of course one can never stray too far from Mexico’s Spanish mission roots and wines made Tempranillo are abundant. A vertical study in Tempranillo as a single-varietal wine, and as an innovative blending partner, is deliciously executed at Palafox winery, where owner Jaime Palafox remains true to his family’s Tempranillo traditions. In addition, Bodegas Santo Tomas, like other creative wineries, blends Tempranillo with other French Bordeaux or Rhone varietals with splendid results. And as one of Baja’s larger wineries, have managed to reach export consumers who marvel at the uniqueness of these blends.
Originally setting out to make wine as a hobby, Sergio Salgados quickly realized the grapes from Mexico’s only certified organic and bio-dynamic winery needed to be shared with the rest of the wine-loving world. With a family history of growing organic crops for export, spearheading organic and sustainable winemaking was natural for Sergio even though the concept was virtually unknown in Mexico. Santos Brujos was officially born in 2013 and wines are produced from French and other international varietals with only subtle guidance by winemaker Luis Pecina. Santos Brujos remains committed to making wines that truly showcase Mexico’s terroir with as minimal human intervention as possible.
Wine from Mexico is vino con alma! We’ve only focused on a handful of producers here but stay tuned for more events and information. Join us as we educate and evangelize Mexican wines to the world!