Mexico’s wine industry received a boost last week when the Senate unanimously approved a new law aimed at promoting the sector and increasing its productivity and competitiveness.
The General Law to Promote the Wine-Producing Industry calls for the creation of a national commission to promote the industry and a national registry of wine producers. The proposals are currently being reviewed by the lower house of Congress.
It is expected that the commission will develop policies and strategies to be implemented by all three levels of government in support of the national wine industry. It will also promote research into different varietals suitable for cultivation in Mexico, drive the development of better agricultural practices and develop and promote wine tourism.
The approval of the law follows a push from the National Conference of Governors (Conago) earlier this year for the creation of formal legislation to support the sector.
The law also proposes the establishment of mechanisms that will allow collaboration between the national commission and industry groups that already exist at a state or national level as well as producers and viticulture and enology academics.
For the first time, there will also be a binding and precise definition of what can be legally labelled as vino mexicano.
Similar to designations applied to traditional Mexican tipples such as tequila and mezcal, the law stipulates that 100% of the grapes used in Mexican wine must be grown within the country and both fermentation and bottling must also occur in Mexico.
The national registry will encompass not only the wine producers but other professions that are essential to the growth of the industry including bottlers, distributors, retailers and wine exporters.
National Action Party (PAN) Senator Héctor Larios Córdova, who presented the legislation, said that four of every five bottles of wine consumed in Mexico are imported.
However, as the price of Mexican wine is predicted to fall by up to 17% once the law is in effect, consumption patterns could change.
One possible factor in reducing the cost to the consumer is a reduction in tax charges. The wine industry says taxes represent 42.5% of a wine’s cost, and it would like to see that figure come down.
The president of the Baja California wine producers’ association believes that the new law will be beneficial to producers in the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s premier wine region, and said one advantage was that producers from different parts of the country will have the opportunity to collaborate more closely.
“That’s not at all common, sitting down at a table and going over issues together currently doesn’t occur. We’re 3,500 kilometers from the center of the country and we’re 90% of the industry; it’s difficult to achieve a close relationship,” Jaime Palafox Granados said.
Efficient use of water, training workers, equipment and infrastructure as well as the promotion of Mexican wine are all key issues the law must address, he said.
Mexican wineries won 18 medals, including six gold, at the Brussels World Wine Competition earlier this year, but despite the increasing accolades Mexico produces and exports far less wine than other countries in the region such as the United States, Argentina and Chile.