Baja California has three major wine-producing areas all located within 120 miles of the west coast.
These three valleys on the Baja Peninsula grow nearly ninety percent of all Mexican wine grapes: San Antonio de las Minas (which includes the Valleys of Guadalupe and Calafia), San Vincente Valley, and Santo Tomás Valley.
Excerpted from the N.Y. Times, 1991, Frank J. Prial, Wine Talk
“…the mission — originally known as the criolla — became the mainstay of the Spanish missions from Baja California to Sonoma. It was the backbone of the California wine industry from the dissolution of the missions in the 1830’s until the 1870’s. Today there are still more than 3,000 acres of it planted in California, much of it in San Bernardino County.
According to popular legend, the grape was introduced into what is now California by the Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra when he arrived in San Diego in 1769. So pervasive was this story that California actually celebrated the bicentennial of its wine industry in 1969.
But closer study shows that the first references to any grape plantings at the missions were at San Juan Capistrano in 1779, making it unlikely that any California mission produced wine before 1782. Historians believe that Father Serra imported his wine from Spain or Mexico before that.
Hold on, it gets more confusing. Jancis Robinson, the English wine writer, says the mission grape was first planted in North America by a Jesuit priest, Juan Ugarte, at the Mission San Francisco in 1697. That mission could have been in Baja California, which would still give the Franciscans primacy in what is now this country.
Wines of Baja California: Touring and Tasting Mexico’s Undiscovered Treasures
~ Ralph Amey (Author) “Imagine. I had been teaching and writing about wine for nearly twenty years before I discovered that Mexico has a burgeoning wine industry,…”
Coming up on twenty years later and Jancis Robinson is still a forcefully respected name in Wine and what’s written about it. She recently had this to say about the Baja Wine Industry:
Excerpted from JancisRobinson.com
Baja – the new California?
15 Jan 2010 by Jancis Robinson
I am excited about the potential for wine in Mexico, having recently spent a morning with Hugo d’Acosta of Casa de Piedra and gravity-fed Paralelo (pictured) tasting a range of Baja California wines he had shipped over to London. As Hugo explains in yesterday’s video , wine appreciation is relatively new in this country where beer and spirits have long been much more important. But it does seem as though Baja California, where 90% of Mexican wine is produced, has real potential for wine with huge local personality. Although latitudes are relatively low – the northernmost and more important wine region Valle de Guadalupe being only… READ MORE Here >>>
Suddenly, everyone is talking about the newest 300 year-old secret from Mexico … Bienvenidos! It’s Baja Wine!