Tracing Guanajuato's wine history

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A farmer works a winery in Guanajuato, where three are within walking distance of one another.
A farmer works a winery in Guanajuato, where three are within walking distance of one another.

When it comes to wine tourism, the world has its heavy hitters: Italy, France, California's Napa Valley, South Africa and so on. But unbeknownst to many, Mexico is coming into its own as a producer of great wines.

The first mention of wine tourism to Mexico came a few years ago after the wines of Valle de Guadalupe in the Baja peninsula got their turn in the spotlight. With a climate similar to California, oenophiles were singing the praises of this other kind of New World wine. But this is not the only destination in Mexico that is making magic with the fruit of the vine.

Wine is not a new product for the state of Guanajuato. In fact, it dates back to the 16th century when Spanish conquistadors brought European grapes to the region. However, the wine that was produced was strictly for the use of the church. Today, the region is experiencing a revival and positioning itself to become the next great region of wine production in Mexico.

In fact, Guanajuato is home to its own wine trail, known as the Circuito del Vino, which stretches from Dolores Hidalgo to San Miguel de Allende. The trail begins at the Sanctuary of Jesus Nazareno de Atotonilco, which is symbolic in its own right as the place where Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexico's independence, took the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with which he started the war that resulted in it. Inside the sanctuary are frescoes that cover the ceilings and walls.

After drinking in your dose of history, it's time to drink in the regional wines. The wine trail is made up of three vineyards, and it is possible to walk from one to the next. The first is Bodega Dos Buhos, which has a wine history that spans more than 50 years and grows more than 10 different grape varieties. The next stop on your journey will be Rancho Vinicola Toyan, a winery relatively new to the scene, having opened in 1995. The draw to this winery, besides its product, is the scenery, which includes lakes, gardens and olive trees. The best time to visit is in April, when it also hosts its annual drumming festival.

The last stop is Cuna de Tierra, arguably the more modern of the three. This vineyard was initially founded to produce brandy, but today it has won multiple awards for its wines.

When planning your visit to Guanajuato keep August in mind, as that's when the region celebrates its summer harvest. It's a month's worth of wine samplings and festivals held across the cities of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and Comonfort. Some of the activities to look forward to are grape stomping, tastings, music performances and dancing.

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