Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Mexico made a splash on the wine scene a few years ago when people started buzzing about the Valle de Guadelupe on the Baja peninsula. But this is not Mexico's only wine region worth knowing. In the heart of Mexico, in the central state of Guanajuato, is another burgeoning wine country that is poised to make a name for itself.

You may know Guanajuato as the state that is home to San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and Comonfort, and these are all fantastic places to know and explore. But Guanajuato also has a rich wine-growing tradition that dates to the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors brought European grapes to the region. Back then the production of wine was strictly for the use of the church; today the country is reviving its wine culture and making it a very vital part of experiencing Guanajuato. Americans may be unfamiliar with the wine tradition of the region because Guanajuato, like Switzerland, does not export any of its bottles to the U.S.

There are about 25 ranches in Guanajuato devoted to producing wine, but there are three that are must-visits. The first stop for oenophiles in Mexico is the Wine Trail, known in Spanish as the Circuito del Vino, which stretches from Dolores Hidalgo to San Miguel de Allende.The first stop on that trail is the Vega Manchon winery, which produces the much-acclaimed Cuna de Tierra label, winner of 31 medals in three years. This winery is located along the highway from Dolores Hidalgo to San Luis de la Paz. At Rancho Santa Gloria, travelers have the opportunity to make their own wine with familiar European grapes, like montepulciano, tempranillo and grenache. At the end of the circuit is Vinicola Toyan, with a wine cellar built at a depth of 82 feet. Mysticism is at play here as general manager Martha Molina marks the entrance to the wine cellar with meteorites she found, believing that they help to enhance the wine's organic properties. Wind your way down a dark ramp that is flanked with 24 strategically positioned pink and black stone monks, lit up in blue and violet.

But a real gem of a winery in Guanajuato is the Caminos D'Vinos, the highest vineyard in Mexico at 7,200 feet above sea level. The winery spreads out around a gorgeous, historical hacienda, Sangre de Cristo, that also serves as a boutique hotel. Also on site are a spa and a restaurant, El Tronco.

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