Monday, January 07, 2013

Wines Down Mexico Way

In both the Northern and Southern hemispheres the area from 30° and 50° latitude is generally held to represent the outer limits for winegrowing; to the north (in the Northern hemisphere) the growing season becomes too short and cold, while the more equatorial climate is generally too tropical. Most of Mexico lies south of the 30th parallel, but when Cortés defeated the Aztecs in 1521 he and his conquistadors exhausted their supply of wine in celebration, he wasn’t about to let this geographical detail end the party – so one of his first acts was to encourage the planting of vineyards in the land that was soon to be named New Spain. By 1524 he had put in place a law which required every recipient ofVineyards at Casa Madero
a land grant to plant 1,000 vine shoots each year until they reached 5,000 vines. The Catholic Church was also active as it needed wine for the sacraments, and it was they who introduced the Mission grape to Mexico. This varietal grew with only minimal tending and adapted well to the hot, dry environment. It was also widely planted in what is now California, and made appearances in Chile and Argentina where it became known as País and Criolla, respectively. By the end of the 16th century the oldest surviving winery in the New World had been established, operating today as Casa Madero, in the Parras Valley.

By Jim Clark

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Source: Star Chefs

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