Where can we find Xocomecatl?

Although a minor player in the wine world, Mexico is the oldest producing wine region from Vitis Vinifera of America. Brought by the Spanish  missionaries, the first vines of Misión (also called Listan Negro, País or Criolla), were planted in Mexico city and Puebla to provide wine for religious services.  The native population called the grapes Xocomecatl, “fruit of the vine” in Nahuatl.

Mexican viticulture  has a turbulent past, starting from the foundation of the first winery of the Americas in 1593 followed by a Spanish ban on vine exports two years later to avoid competition for the Iberian peninsula wines. Wine production suffered heavily during the independence wars and the seizure of church properties in 1857 and the French invasion put an end to this first period. During the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship, the arrival of French varieties and skilled immigrants from the Caucasus revived the wine industry in the north, but the Mexican Revolution and the war against alcohol of Pancho Villa, the northern warlord, dealt a heavy blow again.

Only after several decades, in 1980, the Mexican wine landscape acquired its current form. Nowadays, wine is produced in the vast majority of Mexican states but between 80% and 90% of wine production comes from the Valle de Ensenada (Internationally known as Valle de Guadalupe).

THE MAIN WINE PRODUCING REGIONS IN Valle de la ensenada (valle de guadalupe) are: 

Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Ojos Negros

Valle de Santo Tomás

 Valle de La Grulla

Valle de San Vicente



When the first vines were planted in México, locals called the grapes Xocomecatl from the Nahuatl word xocotl (acid fruit). Mexico was the first place in continental America where vitis vinifera was planted (there were native plantings of other vitis species in the continent). The first variety was likely Listán Negro, known locally as misión. These vines were used to produce wine for churches and monasteries but a local wine industry was never encouraged as it could have been a threat for wines produced in Spain. One of the regions were vines adapted better was California, where it was widely cultivated in the missions established in the area. Nowadays, the Guadalupe valley, in Baja California, can be considered as the hearthland of wine production in Mexico.


I consider myself a lucky cat, as Baja California is sunny and warm all year long, but it is not an easy job. In the early morning I’m in charge to wake up the humans of the house punctually, no matter if it’s a weekday or the weekend. The memory of humans is not the best, so I gently remind them that I deserve to be fed, so I do not starve. After this, I patrol the vineyards and the cellars looking for mice and take a power nap of 3-4 hours. Then, I wake up and remind the humans again that I need to eat again. I try to taste their food as well, to make sure that it’s safe to eat, but they refuse my help. Then I take another power nap until dinner time, so I can eat again. I let them pet me so they can feel my incredibly soft fur, while they seat on the sofa watching a box. Then, after an exhausting day, I go to sleep until 3 A.M. when I’m in charge to run frantically around the house.


I the picture, I’m wearing a traditional mexican dress and standing beside a Saguaro, a cactus native to the area. Behind me you can see a mission, a symbol of the origin of viticulture in the area, and the amazing landscape of Valle de Guadalupe

About Valle de Ensenada

Located just south of the border, in the Baja California peninsula, the Valle de Guadalupe has a mediterranean climate that shows similarities with the Napa Valley.

The diversity of soils and the different altitudes and distance to the sea creates different subregions allowing for the planting of a wide range of grapes. Guadalupe Valley is a laboratory for innovation and creativity: there are no signature grapes and wine regulations are less strict regarding the grape varieties that can be used or the style of the wines.

The main sub-regions are: 

Valle de Guadalupe: The valley that gave the main region its international name, around 45% of the vineyards of Ensenada Valley are planted in this subregion. Soil diversity is one of its main features, from sandy soils close to the river to granitic soils in the foothills and clay soils at the top. The valley region closer to the sea is the coolest of all Valle de Ensenada due to the morning mist and sea breezes, allowing the planting of varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Nebbiolo.

Valle de Ojos Negros: This is the highest altitude valley, with vines planted as high as 800 meters of altitude. Its name comes from two water springs that seem black eyes from a distance. It’s located further inland and is considered one of the best locations for the planting of varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Carignan.

Valle de Santo Tomás: This valley takes its name from the Santo Tomás de Aquino mission, one of the first wine producers in the region. One of the oldest Mexican wineries still active, Bodegas de Santo Tomás, was founded here in 1880. The main varieties planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. Small quantities of Misión grapes are still produced.


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Valle de La Grulla: This is the second coolest subregion of the Valle de Ensenada thanks to the sea breezes that flow through a canyon called the Cañón de las Ánimas. Its historical isolation, surrounded by mountains and accessible for centuries only by horse or on foot, created a subregion where nature and vineyards coexist. A wide variety of grapes are planted here, from Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, to Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Tempranillo or the historical grape Misión.

Valle de San Vicente: The southernmost region of the Valle de Guadalupe, it benefits from the cooling sea breezes that reach inland through the San Vicente canyon. It was the location of the San Vicente Ferrer mission, founded in 1780. The mission grape brought by the Spanish missionaries is still planted, although the most relevant grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon.