Wine Culture Grows in Guanajuato Mexico

Vineyard

Find, Taste, and Enjoy the Wine Culture Around Guanajuato State in Central Mexico

By Tiffany Pence

Tierra de Luz, Leon, Mexico.
Tierra de Luz, Leon, Mexico.

Mexico is known for its addictive cuisine, grand resorts, and pristine beaches. But let me show you a different side of Mexico, full of history, Baroque architecture, and wineries. Yes, Mexico makes wine!

Journey with me to the heart of Mexico in the state of Guanajuato where UNESCO World Heritage Sites clink glasses with European-style wines. This is the next big wine region destination.

Why Haven’t I Heard of Mexican Wine?

Mexico is the oldest wine-producing country in the Americas, but it’s had a long and difficult road to get to where it is today.

When Spanish conquistadors moved through the country, they planted their favorite vines along the way. In the 16th and 17th centuries, wine production was going so well that wine imports from Spain dropped dramatically.

This was a major source of revenue for Old Spain. In 1699, Charles II prohibited winemaking in New Spain except for religious purposes. New Spain (eventually called Mexico) was in turmoil for the next few centuries fighting against imperialism from Spain, France, and the United States. After the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920, Mexico could finally turn its attention back to the land and the possibility of wine culture.

With the success of growing vines in Baja California, winemakers around the world began looking at Mexico’s varied climates and terrain. The Central Mexico region attracted interest from French and Spanish winemakers. The high altitude, semi-arid climate, and a diurnal shift of 25-40 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the state of Guanajuato proved to be perfect for producing wines with higher acidity.

Are Guanajuato Wines Good?

Harvest time in Guanajuato Mexico. Tiffany Pence photos.
Harvest time in Guanajuato Mexico. Tiffany Pence photos.

Guanajuato wines are gaining recognition at many worldwide competitions. Cuna de Tierra, Tres Raices, Dos Buhos, and Vinedo San Miguel have all earned several medals for their wines.

Many of the wineries in Guanajuato can be found from the east side of the state capital of Guanajuato City to Leon to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Miguel de Allende. Here’s how to explore this developing wine region. The region has its own Guanajuato Wine Route you can follow to taste many different wines grown here.

The winery at Tierra de Luz, Leon.
The winery at Tierra de Luz, Leon.

Flights to Guanajuato State

The state of Guanajuato has one international airport located between Leon and Guanajuato City (The capital of Guanajuato is Guanajuato, but I will refer to it as Guanajuato City to avoid confusion). Cities in California, Texas and Chicago have direct flights to Del Bajio (BJX) airport.

Many people head to San Miguel de Allende for its many galleries and celebrations but don’t skip Guanajuato City with its pedestrian-friendly streets or Leon, the Leather Capital of Mexico.

Driving in Guanajuato

Taxi services or private transfers are the easiest ways to get to Guanajuato destinations. Start at the furthest point of San Miguel de Allende and work your way back to the airport with stops in Guanajuato City and Leon.

Netting helps protect the vines and grape clusters from destructive ice balls.
Netting helps protect the vines and grape clusters from destructive ice balls.

Travel Tip:

It is easy to rent a car from the airport and tour the many wineries in the state. However, visitors should be aware that driving within colonial cities and trying to find parking (especially in GTO City) can be difficult.

What Wines Can I Find in Guanajuato?

Cuna de Tierra barrels. in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Cuna de Tierra barrels.

The Guanajuato wine region is unusual in the fact that rain falls during the main growing season and harvest time. This can make it incredibly difficult to time the harvest. Grapes that ripen early and have a thicker skin do well in this region such as Tempranillo, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc.

The white wines are harvested by the end of July and the red wines soon after during August. Winemakers are constantly experimenting with different varieties to find the best-suited grapes for this region.

Hailstorms are common in the summer in Guanajuato. Netting help protect the vines and grape clusters from the destructive ice balls.

Tips for visiting Wineries in Guanajuato:

If you plan on visiting the wineries in Guanajuato, make reservations. Many of the wineries are only open 3-5 days a week. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are good days for wine-tasting. Tours are available from San Miguel de Allende. If you are staying in Guanajuato City or Leon, you’ll need to hire a private driver.

Vinedos San MIguel.
Viñedos San Miguel.


Guanajuato Wineries to Visit

Dos Buhos
Dos Buhos

Just north of Dolores Hidalgo, you’ll find Cuna de Tierra, the oldest winery in Guanajuato. Cuna de Tierra founders, Don Ignacio Vega and Don Juan Manchon began growing French varietals in the 1990s with their first wine production bottled in 2005.

Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, and Semillon grow extremely well, and their wine blends are bold and well-balanced.

Cuna de Tierra was instrumental in forming the Guanajuato Grape and Wine Association with other wineries to help promote the Ruta de Vino (wine route) through the state of Guanajuato. Take a tractor ride through the vineyard, admire their state-of-the-art facility, and dine at their outdoor restaurant overlooking the vineyard.

Another fantastic winery on the outskirts of Dolores Hidalgo is Vinedo los Arcangeles. This place is rustic but enchanting, and the low-intervention wines are lovely. I recommend sipping on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Cab Franc with their barbacoa tacos.

Agriturismo Wineries in Guanajuato

The Italian agriturismo model is evident in many of the wineries. Incorporating a vineyard, restaurant, hotel, and tourist experience, you can easily spend an entire day or more at just one winery.

La Santisima Trinidad, Viñedos San Lucas, and Viñedos San Francisco are all part of a real estate development to promote the dream of “living in a vineyard”.

Tasting wine in Guanajuato Mexico
Tasting wine in Guanajuato Mexico.
Cuna de Tierra
Cuna de Tierra

As the gates swing open, lavender bushes, olive trees, and vineyards reminiscent of a Tuscan landscape greet you. Wine and lavender tours are available. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the stars here, but other varieties are also grown.

These three properties also have hotels, restaurants, and polo fields. Stay for a weekend to watch a polo match, dine at one of their spectacular restaurants with a view, and bike past stone houses framed by olive trees as you contemplate how to afford a piece of a vineyard for yourself.

Tres Raices embraces modern architecture with artistic installations. The wines of Tres Raices are exceptional. Try their Sauvignon Blanc or rosé with tuna tostadas, or a Tempranillo or Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon with a lamb shank.

You may want to stay longer for the views. Hotel Boutique Casa Raices is separated from the tourist areas. Vineyards surround 13 bungalows with a pool. This is the perfect retreat for wine lovers and stargazers.

Viñedo San Miguel is another real estate venture selling the dream of living in a vineyard. Their impressive winery can be accessed right off the highway on the way to the pueblo magico of Comonfort known for its street art and molcajetes.

Canto de Tierra.
Canto de Tierra.

A restaurant, shop, multiple tasting rooms, and production area are all housed in one building. In 2022, the restaurant of Vinedo San Miguel won the Traveler’s Choice Award from Tripadvisor. Spend an afternoon dining on dishes such as short ribs with mole paired with a Malbec Reserva or Grilled Tuna with a Merlot.

Organic Wineries in Guanajuato

Fifteen minutes from San Miguel de Allende lies Viñedos Dos Buhos, a family-owned organic winery. The welcoming hacienda-style winery makes some of the best 100% varietal wines in the state.

Wander through the event hall, which was built for a family wedding, and make friends with the free-range chickens.

Try their Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Tempranillo, Cab Franc or Aglianico with an Italian dish made from local ingredients.

Just down the road from Dos Buhos is another organic winery and farm, Rancho Toyan. Decorated with Gothic gargoyles and Greek statues, you feel like you wandered into a fantasy world that makes wine! Angelic cherubs watch over the rows of vines and their impressive cellar lies 14 meters underground. This is a small production winery with its own farm attached.

Wineries Near Leon and Guanajuato City

The state capital of Guanajuato is also called Guanajuato. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the world’s leader in silver extraction. Several museums are in Guanajuato City such as the mummy museum, the regional museum in the historic Alhóndiga de Granaditas, and the former home of muralist Diego Rivera. Music is life in Guanajuato.

Join the Estudiantes, singers, and guitar players dressed in Renaissance clothing as they walk through the alleys of the city or listen to the orchestra as they play on the steps of the Teatro Juarez. In mid-October, the International Cervantino Festival, one of the largest in the world, takes over the city. This pedestrian-friendly city is a favorite among Mexicans and tourists alike.

Tres Raices restaurant.
Tres Raices restaurant.

Winery Near Guanajuato City

One of the highest vineyards in Mexico, Camino de Vinos embraces the agriturismo model with a hotel vineyard, restaurant, and biodynamic farm. They promote sustainability not only at their winery but also in their community. For the ultimate winery retreat in the mountains, relax at their hotel and dine on a 3-course lunch with wine pairings.

Because this winery is located at a high elevation north of Guanajuato City, hiring a driver for the day is recommended. The winery and restaurant are only open Friday-Sunday.

453Travel Tip:

Dolores Hidalgo is only an hour’s drive from Guanajuato City where you can visit Cuna de Tierra or Tres Raices easily. Shop for colorful Talavera pottery, visit the Wine Museum of Guanajuato, and learn how Father Hidalgo influenced Mexico’s history.

Leon

While Leon may not have the charm of Guanajuato City or the activity diversity of San Miguel de Allende, it’s a fantastic city to visit. Known as the Leather Capital of Mexico, you can find all sorts of leather goods from shoes to handbags in Zona Piel (leather zone) in the Centro Historico.

Churches and historical buildings are the main attractions, but there’s also a zoo and an aquarium. The International Hot Air Balloon Festival (Festival del Globo) is a sight to behold in mid-November.

Near Leon

Occupying one of the oldest Ex-Haciendas in Mexico, photographers will delight in the 16th-century architecture of Tierra De Luz Hacienda Vinicola. This was once the home to La Malinche, the indigenous interpreter of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Relax with a Merlot, rosé, or Malbec while dining on a Neapolitan pizza or French crepes. This winery is only open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

Octagono Winery
is doing something unique in the Mexican wine industry. This natural winery is taking it back to the basics with foot-stomping, only using natural yeast, and fermenting in clay pots. They are one of the few wineries that grow the native Salvador grape.

Octagono focuses on growing little-known varieties such as Macabeo, Semillon, Muscat, and Rosé de Peru. The winery is located an hour north of Leon and is only open on Sunday. They do have a tasting room in San Miguel de Allende.

The Guanajuato wine region has grown from a handful of wineries in the 1990s to over 30 wineries today. It continues to evolve with wine and food festivals, experimentation, and new technology. Coupled with its historical significance, boutique hotels, and monthly celebrations, Guanajuato is poised to be your next wine tourism destination.

Wineries Near San Miguel de Allende

Wine aficionados will head for San Miguel de Allende for its options in wineries, wine bars, and spectacular rooftop restaurants. Spend a few days getting to know the city by joining a walking tour, cooking class, or visiting galleries. Dolores Hidalgo is an easy day trip from San Miguel de Allende.

The best way to visit the wineries is by going on a wine tour. Heart of Mexico Wine Tours offers English-speaking guides with 40 years of experience in the wine industry. Choose between a three-winery tour, Dolores Hidalgo, and two wineries tour, or customize your own wine-tasting tour.

Wine Bars and Tasting Rooms in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is also home to many wine bars and tasting rooms. If you are short of time, these are all within walking distance of Centro. Xoler Wine Bar promotes natural wines from Mexico including Cava Garambullo from the Guanajuato wine region.

Brutal Vinata de Barrio SMA in Doce 18 Concept House features more nationally and internationally recognized wine brands. Guanajuato wineries with tasting rooms include Guaname, Tres Raices, Octagono (natural wine), Cuna de Tierra, and La Santisima Trinidad.

Tiffany PenceTiffany Pence is a travel writer, freelance conference manager, and tour operator. She has been living in Mexico for the past five years, witnessing the growth of the Central Mexico wine region. When she’s not drinking, she’s playing with her pup Ocho, planning her next travel adventure, and taking a million pictures. This article was sponsored by Guanajuato Tourism but the opinions are the author’s own.

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