Mexican natural wine finds a new home in Guanajuato

A new wave of Mexican wine is on the rise in Guanajuato, a state in the central highlands. While the region is internationally known for the tourist hub of San Miguel de Allende, just outside the city is the country’s fourth and fastest growing wine-producing state, not to mention the one of the youngest, with 30 wineries and modern viticultural practices dating back to the early 2000s.

Consulting winemaker Natalia López Mota and her partner from the Balkans, Branko Pjanic, are part of the crew in Guanajuato. The couple started producing wine in Mexico in 2012 and today produce their own unfiltered blends under the Cava Garambullo label. They primarily ferment organic grapes with natural yeast and minimal intervention.

“Cava Garambullo is exciting; they are trendsetters,” says Sandra Fernandez, sommelier in Mexico City. “They raise awareness [for natural wine]and Guanajuato is definitely at the forefront of this movement.

Vineyards in Cuna de Tierra / Photo courtesy of Cuna de Tierra

Although Guanajuato has a few large luxury lifestyle estates like Tres Raíces and Viñedos San Lucas, it is also home to several smaller-scale natural and organic wineries. These winemakers avoid industrial yeasts, synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides for eco-sensitive farming methods.

Red wines such as Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc account for around 70% of Guanajuato’s production. White grape varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Viognier.

Octagono is part of the natural wine scene in Mexico
Octagono line / Photo courtesy Octagono

Lighter wines with lower alcohol levels are also emerging, thanks to the state’s climate. The average elevation is 6,500 feet above sea level, with cold winters, hot summers, and a wide daytime temperature range.

“This style of wine is highly sought after by top Mexican chefs who like to use them for wine pairings,” says Fernandez. “Menus are becoming lighter and more vegan, top chefs use only organic produce and these wines fit their philosophy very well.”

Yet, she says, natural winesor natural wines, are currently a niche product in Mexico, enjoyed by young drinkers in wine bars in Mexico City’s trendy neighborhoods.

Frenchman Gaëtan Rousset, co-founder of Loup Bar in Mexico City, believes Cava Garambullo has “a real terroir-driven approach” and cites Marcelo Castro Vera’s Octagono label as a more extreme example of Guanajuato’s wine revolution. The first wines from Mexico to be fermented and stored in buried clay containers, the Octagono range is made from organically grown fruit, using ambient yeast and no added sulphur. These rustic bottlings include an orange cuvée and a sparkling-natural.

Aging Clay in Mexico Natural Wine Movement in Guanjuato
Clay vessels used to age wines at Octagono / Photo by Mukasha Dadajonova

One of the early leaders of Guanajuato’s wine resurgence is Viñedo Cuna de Tierra, a 98-acre high-altitude estate in Dolores Hidalgo. She released her first wine in 2005 from French grape varieties planted in the early 1990s.

“Our vines are planted at around 2,000 meters [6,561 feet] above sea level, which means cooler temperatures and very little disease pressure,” says winemaker Juan Manchon. “As a result, the grapes have lively acidity and freshness, and we use very little product in the vineyard.”

Bodega Dos Búhos, which released its first wines in 2008, vinifies organic grapes and ferments with wild yeast to make certified organic wines. A former peach orchard, the family vineyard is located on the Guanajuato Rutas del Vino, a wine tourism route that crosses 15 estates.

Bodega Dos Buhos natural wine in Guanajuato, Mexico
Bodega Dos Buhos / Photo by Louise Hurren

In Viñedo los Arcángeles, Ulises Ruiz began producing near-organic, unfiltered wines in 2017. Last year, his 2020 Canto de Sirenas Sauvignon Blanc won a Grand Gold medal and the 2021 White Wine Revelation title at the annual México competition. Selection.

“I don’t use pesticides or herbicides, but I work with both natural and selected yeasts, depending on what I want to do,” says Ruiz, who is currently experimenting with orange wines. “We are a small winery that dreams big. I am only a guide for the grapes: I want them to express the essence of what this region can give to the world.

Comments are closed.