Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A winery that began as a hobby helped put Chihuahua wines on the map

Seventeen years ago, Bodegas Pinesque winery in Chihuahua city, one of the state’s earliest and now biggest wineries, got its start thanks to an Italian couple who encouraged founder Gilberto Pinoncély to start making his own wine.

Gastone and Maria Guglielmina, immigrants to Mexico who are acknowledged by many in Chihuahua as pioneers of winemaking in the state, started creating vintages for their own consumption in the 1970s, a time when beer was much more popular with Mexicans. Gastone — an engineer who grew up helping his family make its own home wine — enthusiastically shared his knowledge and love of wine with anyone else who showed interest, including Pinoncély.

Pinoncély got involved in hobby winemaking with the Guglielminas’ help as part of an informal group started by the couple and their wine-loving friends. Together, at the Guglielminas’ home, they made wine with the couple’s guidance and called themselves La Cofradía de Buen Vino (The Good Wine Guild).

Eventually, Pinoncély’s wife, María Esquer, and their children got interested in winemaking with him. And over the years, as the Pinoncély-Esquer family learned to improve their grape crops and their cultivation and winemaking techniques, they saw that their hobby could become a business.

Maria and Gastone Guglielmina, Chihuahua wine industry forefathers
Maria and Gastone Guglielmina are considered pioneers in Chihuahua winemaking. They shared their love of wine at a time when beer was a more popular alcoholic beverage in Mexico.

They created the winery’s name by contracting the couple’s two surnames together, and in 2010, they launched their debut product, 5 de Pinesque, a cabernet sauvignon and syrah blend you can still purchase today. Its 2012 and 2014 vintages won silver medals at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2016.

These days, the winery is managed by three families, among them descendants of the Guglielminas —  as well as daughter Mónica Pinoncély. One of Chihuahua’s largest wineries, Bodegas Pinesque is today known for making natural yeast wines.

The winery’s second creation, a sweet surprise named Novembre, was a late-harvest wine of chardonnay grapes matured for two months on the vine. It’s a true gem for anyone in possession of a bottle since it has since sold out and Bodegas Pinesque doesn’t produce it anymore.

In the years following, Bodegas Pinesque added new wines to its line, such as Peach Chardonnay — a sweet, white wine, perfect for dessert — and Bárbaro, a late-harvest wine made with barbera grapes.

Bodegas Pinesque wines
Bodegas Pinesque’s line of wines includes reds, whites, a rosé and blends.

In 2018, it released — in homage to the Guglielminas — Gastone & Maria, a wine aged for two years. It continues to be one of Chihuahua’s most emblematic wines.

The winery’s other offerings include Triada, a white table wine that pays tribute to three of the state’s cultures: Raramuri, Mennonite and mestizo.

SinfoRosa is an excellent rosé made with zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and syrah grapes. It’s not sweet, but it’s layered with hints of strawberries and watermelon.

Its new 2022 wine, Tin Marín, is a young, fresh red without pretense. A blend of three different grapes, this is a wine for everyday consumption.

Bodegas Pinesque winery's 5 de Pinesque wine
Bodegas PInesque’s debut wine, 5 de Pinesque, took silver medals at the Concours Mondial Bruxelles in 2016 for two of its vintages.

With more and more wineries in Chihuahua, Bodegas Pinesque’s owners are working to promote wine tourism in the area. You can visit the vineyard on its hectare of land and take a tour in English or Spanish.

The entire setting has a family ambiance and a personal touch: the owners work onsite, there are kid-friendly activities for visitors and wine tasting and winemaking classes. The restaurant there specializes in high-quality meats. You will need to make advance reservations for a tour or to take part in activities, so be sure to call ahead at 614-153-3128.

  • Bodegas Pinesque wines are available in liquor stores, markets and restaurants in Chihuahua city and elsewhere in Chihuahua state in Ciudad Juárez, Delicias and Cuauhtémoc. You can also buy its wines online at their website.

Sommelier Diana Serratos writes from Mexico City.

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