Failing farms in Mexico find new life in winemaking

Global Business

Mexico is known for some quality adult beverages. Tequila probably comes to mind first. It produces several top brands of beer, too. But how about wine? While the country may not be well known for its vineyards, that may be changing.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

Cuna de Tierra, a vineyard in central Mexico, and one of the country’s most award-winning wineries.

Just 15 years ago, this farm in Guanajuato State was producing green peppers and losing money doing so.

It took the vision of Ricardo Vega to turn his grandfather’s furrowed fields into vineyards.

“My father was never keen on the idea of me making wine because it’s a business that needs a lot of investment, but we’ve done it a little at a time, growing slowly by two hectares (4.9 acres) a year. But the fact is that making wine is a passion, we love it,” said Ricardo Vega.

Scraping together what money he could to plant two hectares of vines, Ricardo produced three barrels of wine in 2009.

A decade later, Cuna de Tierra will produce 120,000 bottles for the national and international markets.

In the global scheme of things, Mexico doesn’t drink very much wine. While European countries consume between 30 and 40 liters per capita a year, Mexicans average less than one liter, a little more than a single bottle of wine per Mexican over the course of 12 months.

According to Francisco Lara, of the state’s wine promotion board, a lot of that has to do with historical precedents established in the colonial age.

“Wine culture has been dormant for much of our history because, during the colonial era, winemaking was prohibited here in Mexico,” said Lara. It was a commodity that Spain would export to its colonies, so due to the jealousy over competition, this region of Mexico was left without wine for a period of nearly 200 years.”

Yet wine culture in Mexico does appear to be growing. The country’s National Winegrowing Council, led by Gabriel Padilla, said sales have grown on average by 10% every year for the past decade.

“As the Mexican public becomes better informed about wine, and more culture is generated around it, it’s having an effect of growing the consumption in our society,” said Gabriel.

As Mexico’s wine culture grows, it’s providing economic stability to a region positioning itself as North America’s next big wine country.