While Mexico is famous for a number of its alcoholic beverages, it is fair to say that wine is not one of them, however two Mexican-Australians with a passion for wine are looking to change that.
When Jorge Negrete and Juan Barba discovered that no Mexican wines were available in Australia they decided to do something about it, and set up Mexican Cellars and are now looking at venues and independent retailers, who like to offer something different and unique, to start ranging the wines.
“When I first came to Australia 11 years ago there was only one Mexican beer available and a handful of tequilas,” Negrete told TheShout.
“Since then the number of Mexican beers available here now has increased, the quality of tequila being imported now is amazing and we are seeing mescal being imported.
“The one thing I was always curious about was not seeing Mexican wine. So we started to do our research, at Mexican restaurants, online, Australian and Mexican customs to see if there was any Mexican wines coming here and basically there was nothing. So we decided to take matters into our own hands and start importing Mexican wines.”
Mexican Cellars is currently wholesaling to a number of Mexican restaurants and liquor stores, but the team is moving into its next phase and is looking at other cuisines, wine bars, small bars and independent retailers.
Negrete added: “We are looking at venues that like to offer something unique and different to their customers. We believe that when people try the wines, they will be surprised and they will like them and so they will want to give us a chance.
“This is one of the main challenges we’ve faced is that because people don’t realise that Mexico produces any wine, their immediate thought is that it is not going to be any good. But that perception changes as soon as they try it.”
Many people may expect the wines to be similar to a lot of American wines, but with the minerality of the Mexican soil and the climate of the Baja California region, the proximity to the Pacific coast and European influences, these are very different to US wines.
As Negrete explained: “That comes from the influence that the winemakers bring to that wine region. For example the owner of one of the wineries we are buying from is originally from Italy. His dad was a winemaker and he moved to Mexico when he was 18 and started working with a big Mexican winery. He worked there for 45 years until he decided to start his own winery.
“Another winemaker, he started in France and Italy and then came back to Mexico to set up a number of wine producing projects. So there is a lot of European influence in the region and that is reflected in the wines.”
Barba, said: “In the last few decades, the Mexican wine industry’s been through a revolution – especially in Baja California – and is slowly getting the recognition it deserves. Not much wine makes it out of Mexico though, because most wineries are boutique and the Mexican market is huge.
“We’ve been lucky enough to build great relationships with some of the most iconic wineries and winemakers in the country and we’ve had the tough job of tasting a lot of wine to then handpick some of our favourites to launch this project.”
There are currently eight Mexican wines available, with all the details on the Mexican Cellars website.