Friday, June 14, 2024

Grapes have replaced poblano peppers at what was once a farm

A former poblano pepper producer who replaced the crop with grapes now produces award-winning wines that have proven to be much more profitable.

Ricardo Vega made the decision a decade ago to turn his Guanajuato farm into a vineyard. Now Cuna de Tierra is one of the state’s most productive.

“The ranch was practically all poblano peppers, but the vegetable is really complicated to market if you don’t have control of the whole distribution channel. And the price of the chile hasn’t changed in the last 30 years,” said Vega.

“So we looked for a product that we could store, and wine has the advantage of increasing in quality over time; it’s also something we always liked.”

After celebrating the vineyard’s ninth grape harvest last weekend, Vega said they have been increasing production in recent years “but now we want to limit ourselves, because if we increase the volume too much, we could lose quality.”

Ricardo Vega of Cuna de Tierra winery in Guanajuato.
Ricardo Vega of Cuna de Tierra winery in Guanajuato.

Cuna de Tierra, located in Dolores Hidalgo, has 30 hectares of vines in production, which this year will yield 120 tonnes of grapes from which 120,000 bottles of wine will be produced.

Vega remembers that in the beginning they barely produced two barrels, and now that number has risen to over 100. In the early harvests, they invited 300 guests to celebrate. This year they sold 1,400 tickets two months before the celebration.

He also points out they have won around 50 international prizes with a number of labels.

“This year we won seven awards at the Decanter World Wine Awards, including one gold. We’re really happy with the winery,” he said.

Cuna de Tierra’s sales, which in 2018 totaled around 20 million pesos (US $100,000), have grown at an annual rate of 20%, and Vega expects this year to be no different.

He plans to increase the production of white wine, which is currently in fashion.

The winery has 30 hectares of grapes in production.
The winery has 30 hectares of grapes in production.

“It’s the variety that is now seeing greater demand. There’s a trend toward whites and rosés,” he said.

The winery has made international inroads not only in competitions, but also in commerce. It currently produces 5,000 bottles for the United States market, but Vega is waiting for more demand for his wines to attempt to enter other international markets.

According to Vega, who is also president of Guanajuato’s Viniculturists Association, 30 wineries have dedicated over 300 hectares to growing grapes in the state, a dozen of which are open to the public. Together they produce around 350,000 liters of wine per year.

Cuna de Tierra is currently getting ready for its Live Vineyard Music Experience, a music and wine festival that will host disco singer Gloria Gaynor and other musicians on October 12.

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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