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Mexican appellation plan divides country

A plan by the state government of Mexico’s major wine region to introduce wine appellation names in the country has divided the industry.

Speaking at the opening event for northern Baja’s 2008 harvest festival, Governor Jose Guadalupe Osuna told attendees that the ‘next step for the wine country’ is to establish appellations, or Denominations of Origin (DOs).

‘The government would like DO’s because of the marketing and promotional benefits and because of quality control,’ said Alan Bautista, director of marketing for the Baja office of tourism.

Members of the wine industry, however, have reacted coldly to the plans, which would regulate the production of wine in any DO region.

‘We are still in the first steps of our wine industry,’ said Hugo D’Acosta, leader of the Guadalupe Valley Vintners Association and winemaker for top labels including Casa de Piedra and Paralelo. ‘You should not say how wine should be made when we are still exploring. If DOs were instituted, we would lose freedoms at this most important time of our wine industry.’

D’Acosta said that five years ago, the valley only produced Cabernet Sauvignon. Today its 50 wine producers grow several varieties, including Merlot, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Viognier and Chenin Blanc.

Donald Miller, an American who owns the local Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards and Inn, believes the move is premature.

‘I think we need five to 10 more years before instituting DOs,’ he said. ‘We’re just learning what some of the regions do best.’

The Guadalupe Valley in Baja, California, is the centre of Mexico’s wine production. The dry, narrow valley – only 5 miles wide and 14 miles long – is located around 70 miles from the US border.

The first Mexican DO, for Tequila, was established in 1974.

Written by Janice Fuhrman in Guadalupe Valley

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