Friday, April 21, 2006

Mexican wine makes a comeback in the land of tequila

Mexican wine makes a comeback in the land of tequila

15.09.05By Tim Gaynor

ENSENADA, Mexico - Long before Mexico gained fame for its cool bottled beers and searing shots of tequila, pioneering winemakers were planting vines and laying down the New World's first vintages there.
Banned in the 1600s by Spain and subsequently eclipsed by local brewers and distillers, the once flourishing industry is now making a comeback in three semi-desert valleys a few miles south of the US border.
Twenty-two wineries dot the San Vicente, Santo Tomas and Guadalupe valleys, close to the Pacific coast resort of Ensenada in Baja California state, and are winning critical attention both in Mexico and abroad.

Production is small at just 1.5 million cases a year, but the reds and whites produced in the region of 7,400 acres have won more than 20 medals at international fairs in Europe and the Americas in the past decade. Aided by wine technicians and enologists from as far afield as Chile and Italy, Mexican growers have invested millions of dollars in their vine stocks and in state-of-the-art equipment, to put the local wine industry back in business.

"When people think of Mexico they think of beer and tequila, but winemaking is having its renaissance," Baja California Winemakers Association manager Blanca Acosta said as she drove through rows of vineyards near Ensenada. "The climate and soils are producing some really world beating wines," she added.

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