The overdue emergence of the Mexican wine industry.

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After nearly 500 years, Mexican wine is finally rising to global prominence. Why now?

Let’s face it, when we think of our favorite Mexican libation, our minds go straight to tequila. It is, after all, the official state drink.

However, the country has also been making wine for about 500 years. It’s actually home to the oldest winery in the Americas. And now, centuries later, Mexico is (finally) considered a wine region to watch.

A brief history.

Vineyards were first planted in Mexico in 1524 under the orders of conquistador Hernán Cortés, the ruler of “New Spain.” Since then, the industry has fluctuated due to political and environmental influences.

However, the seeds for the modern industry were sown in the 1970s and 80s when investment in California vineyards was exploding, and the excitement spread to the Baja California region–which now produces 85% of Mexican wine. Other notable wine regions include Sonora, La Laguna, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, and Querétaro.

Mexico does boast a few large-scale wineries, like L.A. Cetto, which sits on 1200 hectares and is responsible for almost half of the country’s total wine production. However, most vineyards are smaller, boutique operations.

What makes Mexican wine so special?

Along with its rich history, Mexican wine has another advantage: The country has no formal appellations or other indications — a rarity among wine-producing nations. Additionally, most wine grapes can flourish in Mexico.

The combination of these factors allows, and even encourages, winemakers to experiment and create vintages that are entirely their own.

Why now and what comes next?

The number of wineries in Mexico has roughly quadrupled in the last ten years and now the country has more than 400. At the same time, Mexico is becoming increasingly known for its natural wines and sustainable practices — both of which are surging trends in the global wine market.

Given the rising profile of Mexican wines, their export is also beginning to grow. Between 2021 and 2022, the value of its wine exports nearly doubled the following year. And I suspect it is only a matter of time before sommeliers begin discovering and recommending vineyards to fine dining establishments worldwide.

In short: The stars have aligned and Mexican wine is on the brink of a major expansion.

Local wine producers are already investing in different ways to capitalize on its potential success. For example, many vineyards are building tasting rooms and small hotels on their properties to attract and capitalize on their region’s tourists.

I am happy to see a new wine region gain prominence–especially one with such deep roots in winemaking. The only question is, which variety to try first?

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.

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