The fundamental problems faced by Baja California (and all Mexican) wineries, are two:
- First, there's little tradition of wine drinking in the country, except among the Europeanized upper and upper-middle classes.
- Second, Mexicans still look to Europe, and increasingly to Chile and Argentina, when they want wine.
Baja California producers must build a reputation for their wines among Mexican nationals, just as California needed to persuade New Yorkers that its wines could compete with European imports. Time and increasing quality will help.
To expand their markets, many Mexican vintners hope to export their wines, particularly to the U.S., with its large population of Mexican descent. In truth, there's little reason to expect that strategy to succeed. Aside from cultural ties, the Mexican foods most popular in the U.S. aren't particularly compatible with wine, and U.S. (and Australian and Chilean) wines are better values and often better quality.
The Mexican wineries need to persuade their own large population of 100 million people to drink their wines, rather than trying to get U.S. consumers to do so.
That said, the many excellent wines coming from a few Baja California wineries show what the region can do. They don't need to take a back seat to anyone--just get the word out and increase production to match.
(Sources of information: In addition to the wineries, Gilberto Salinas, an importer and wine seller, is very knowledgeable and helpful. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone + 52-664-971-0953. Gary Sehnert at Wines of Mexico, 619-233-VINO or email@example.com, is also a good contact.)
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