Although Mexico has a long and storied tradition of producing and enjoying alcoholic beverages —in particular, beer, mescal, and of course, tequila— the country’s wine industry is a relative newcomer to the international wine scene, which may come as a surprise to some due to the country’s Spanish heritage. Even more surprising is that Mexico is actually the first wine-producing country in the Americas, a claim to fame that dates back to when the conquistadors and friars brought vine clippings to the New World hundreds of years ago.
Signs of Improvement and Change
Still, attitudes are changing, with Mexico’s wine production showing clear signs of growth, particularly in Baja, where Valle de Guadalupe wineries have helped transform the region into an up-and-coming wine destination often dubbed as “the next Napa Valley”—a comparison that may not be completely accurate, but one with merit nonetheless.
Mexico’s recent wine consumption has showed near-prodigious growth. In the last 10 years, wine consumption has increased by at least 40 percent, with no signs of slowing down. By 2020, it’s predicted that consumption will triple to 180 million liters per year—or two liters for every Mexican citizen, about the same per capita consumption of Brazil. Still, this level of consumption is but a drop in the bucket next to international standards—for example, the annual per capita consumption of French adults is an average of 50 liters a year.
While the Mexican government has yet to make any real concerted effort to promote Mexican wines to the rest of the world, institutions such as research centers and universities have taken up the task of raising awareness of the quality and unique characteristics of the Mexcio’s wines.
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
Researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) have conducted a number studies on Mexico’s wines, with one paper delving into the production needs of Baja’s wine industry. Since 1993, the UABC has also held an annual international wine tasting competition, with the support of the International Organization of Vine and Wine, the intergovernmental organization based in Paris, France. The contest aims to promote the production of superior Mexican wines and encourage the reasonable consumption of wine within Mexican society, thereby encouraging the growth of the country’s wine culture. The university also offers undergraduate minor in studies focused on the local food and wine industry.
Colegio de la Frontera Norte
Another educational institution, the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF)—a prestigious research center and think tank in Baja—has conducted several research activities focused on Mexico’s wine industry. The institution is funded and administered by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), the government agency that oversees Mexico’s developments in science and technology.