Mexico is known for its tequila and cerveza but the country's burgeoning wine industry may one day give these traditional beverages stiff competition. As Mexican wineries gain recognition in the global wine community, wine tourism to the producing regions are quickly becoming a popular reason to visit the diverse country.

Mexico's wine-growing centers are located throughout the country with the most notable region being the northern part of the Baja California peninsula where coastal fog, warm days and cool nights create perfect conditions similar to those in Napa, California and the Bordeaux region in France.

Approximately 90% of Mexican wine is produced in Baja within the valleys of San Vicente, Santo Tomás and Guadalupe.

Baja California, the longest peninsula in the world, continues to be one of Mexico's most frequented states and has 1,000 miles of secluded beaches, striking mountain ranges, picturesque desert and glitzy resorts. In August, 2003 the state welcomes hundred of visitors to the 13th Annual Ensenada Wine Harvest Festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia). Here visitors can taste wine from Mexico's largest and most famous vineyards of the Santo Tomas Valley while dining on succulent Mexican dishes.

Varieties of wine produced in this region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, Zinfandel, Grenache, Mision and Cariñena (reds); Chenin Blanc, Palomino, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Saint Emilion and Málaga (whites).

Wine production in Mexico began in the early 1500's. Fearing that the Spanish wine monopoly would be broken by the advent of Mexican products, Emperor Charles V banned winemaking in Mexico. It was during this time that the Spanish colony perfected its production of distilled liquors such as rum, brandy and later cerveza. Serious wine production in Mexico started in the 1960s, 150 years after the country declared its independence from Spain.

Since opening the market to global commerce, Mexican wineries have concentrated more on quality of product than on volume of output. A focus on consistency and quality along with key trade agreements such as NAFTA, has created new markets for Mexico's wine. Mexico is now exporting its wine to 21 countries.

Vinos Domecq

Château Domecq was founded by a Franciscan monk — Junipero de Serra.

Located on sprawling acres of land in the Calafia Valley, Château Domecq is located on land that originally was one of several missions founded by the Franciscan monk Junípero de Serra who planted grape vines in order to make sacramental wine for religious ceremonies.

One of Domecq's signature wines is the Château Domecq Tinto who's 1995 vintage earned a silver medal at the 2001 Concours Mondial Bruxelles.

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo is fermented in French Oak barrels for 18 months and aged in the bottle for a minimum of two years. The wine features a complex bouquet of floral and woodsy aromas and a rich finish. Winery tours and tastings are open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call 011-52-646-155-2249/155-2254 or visit

Château Camou

Château Camou is a boutique winery.

Nestled in the heart of the Guadalupe Valley is Château Camou, a boutique winery that produces six varieties of wine including a Fumé Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Clarete. The vineyard's signature wine, El Gran Vino Tinto (The Great Red Wine) is a blend of three classic grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Fermented separately in stainless steel tanks and later aged in French Oak barrels for 13 months, this deep ruby wine with red ripe fruit, cassis, coffee and spice aromas, offers a great balance with a long, velvety finish.

Enelogist Victor Manuel Torres

The 1995 vintage won a coveted silver medal at the 1998 Challenge International du Vin held in Bordeaux, France, and the 1997 vintage picked up a silver medal at the 2000 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Belgium and a gold medal at the 2000 Wines of the Americas fair held in Los Angeles.

Victor Manuel Torres Alegre, Château Camou's enelogist and partner, obtained his doctorate degree at the Institute of Enelogy at the University of Bordeaux, France and brings 15 years of quality winemaking experience as well as a unique combination of traditional and vanguard wine-making techniques to the vineyard.

Château Camou offers tours Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The cost per person is $3USD. For more information and reservations call 011-52-646-177-3303, 177-2221 or visit

Monte Xanic

A newer winery is Monte Xanic.

Some of Mexico's newest and finest wines come from Monte Xanic, located in the Guadalupe Valley since 1987. Just 75 miles south of San Diego, California, east of Ensenada, the vineyard's varieties include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, chenin blanc and chardonnay.

If price defines quality, Monte Xanic is Mexico's best. The vineyard prides itself on their blend of traditional and modern harvesting techniques as well as in producing internationally recognized, award-winning products.

French oak barrels age Guadalupe Valley wines.

The1998 Monte Xanic Chardonnay received a bronze medal at the 2000 Challenge International du Vin in Blaye-Bourg, France and the 1996 Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon received a Gold Medal and the Civart Prix d'Excellence in the 1998 Challenge.

International du Vin in Blaye-Bourg, France and the 1996 Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon received a Gold Medal and the Civart Prix d'Excellence in the 1998 Challenge.

The winery is open for tours and tastings Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. An appointment is required. For more information or to reserve a spot, travelers can call 011-52-555-545-1111 or visit

Vinos LaCetto

La Cetto has a long family owned tradition.

With more than 70 years of experience in the industry, La Cetto wines remain a family run operation producing a variety of fine wines on their four vineyards in the Guadalupe Valley. Their vineyard El Escondido lies 31 miles north of Tijuana just along the U.S.-Mexico border. Grape varieties include zinfandel, chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, nebbiolo, sauvignon blanc and petite sirah.

La Cetto's product line is divided into three categories: Reserve, Classis Line and Young Wines. The Reserve collection includes the Chardonnay R.P., the Nebbiolo R.L. and the Cabernet Sauvignon R.P. The Nebbiolo R.L. is a brilliant red wine with vanilla, wood and cherry aromas. Kept in French oak barrels for 12 to 16 months and later bottle-aged for two years, the Nebbiolo R.L. is dry and round and extremely characteristic of the varietal.

Premium Baja wines are winning international awards.

The 1995 Cabernet Sauvingnon R.P. received the bronze medal in its category in the 1997 Challenge International du Vin, as did the 1995 Chardonnay R.P.

La Cetto has a wine tasting room in Tijuana and offers tasting and tours hourly. For more information visit or call 011-52-664-685-3031.

For information on visiting Baja California contact the Baja California State Tourism Office: 011-52-612-634-6330 or visit their Web site at For more information about Baja's wine scene, visit

By Rico Richards, Baja, Mexico Correspondent.

Baja California Guide Map

Baja California Guide Map

"NEW! Baja California Guide Map-2003 edition by Esparza Editores. This popular road and tourist map for the Baja Peninsula features new artwork and updated content.

Insets include:

  • Tijuana to Ensenada corridor
  • San Jose del Cabo t"

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