San Luis Potosí

A state with a hidden gem of a winemaking industry… especially for Sauvignon Blanc!

Even in many official sources within Mexico, the state of San Luis Potosí does not make it onto the list of wine producing states. But this is a mistake: not only do San Luis Potosí produce wine; it contains multiple small-scale producers producing excellent-quality wine. Because of this lack of awareness, you could say that San Luis Potosí is just getting started in terms of wine production, but the reality on the ground is different from that, with multiple producers offering wines displaying a significant degree of maturity in production.

Vineyards in San Luis Potosí
Contrast between the city and the countryside in Soledad de Graciano Sánchez, San Luis Potosí

A brief history

San Luis Potosí is not known as a wine-producing state either currently or historically. Nonetheless, research indicates that it did have a wine and grape production industry during colonial times, although the extent of this production was almost exclusively destined for local consumption. Nonetheless, the development of this production was limited by geographic and legal constraints, combined with competition from the more prolific wine producing states of Coahuila and Aguascalientes. In the end, this production quite simply did not survive into the 1900s [Gámez, 2014].

This historical context somewhat differentiates the state from other central Mexican states, because the “resumption” of viticulture appears to have taken place after a much larger gap in production dating back almost 100 years, whereas in the majority of central Mexico, grape production was significant until the decline of the late 1980s. Perhaps this is why the state is not recognized, even today, in many Mexican and foreign sources discussing wine-producing regions in Mexico.

Climate and Geography

San Luis Potosí borders on wine-producing neighbors Zacatecas and Guanajuato, with an average altitude of approximately 1850 m across the state. The state is large, with varying climactic conditions. Wineries are located in the western region of the state, principally in the municipality of Soledad de Graciano Sánchez near the capital and in Villa de Arista (municipality of Moctezuma) approximately 80 km to the north of the capital. This region of the state is located on Mexico’s central plateau, with a continental climate similar to that of other central states. The state’s eastern region is in stark contrast with its west and is absolutely not appropriate for wine production, with a tropical climate influenced by its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico.

The region surrounding the capital receives an average of approximately 400 mm total rainfall per year, which is generally concentrated during the summer months from May to September. The climate in this region is primarily semi-arid, with a few arid spots [INEGI].

Producers

Pozo de Luna, San Luis Potosí
Planning and winemaking at Pozo de Luna, a boutique producer in San Luis Potosí

In the state of San Luis Potosí, two wineries are of particular note considering the quality of their production: Pozo de Luna and Cava Quintanilla.

Pozo de Luna is located in the municipality of Soledad de Graciano Sánchez, only a short drive from the state capital. It is a small-scale producer focused on making high-quality wines. Of particular note is its Sauvignon Blanc, with its 2016 release being impressively similar to a New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc, with extremely potent tropical fruits combined with high acidity, which is too often lacking in wines from Mexico (the average Mexican consumer does not like acidity). Also noteworthy is its Merlot, although the winery also produces Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, with other more recently planted varietals in the works, including a potential Viognier.

Cava Quintanilla is located in Villa de Arista, in the municipality of Moctezuma, about 80 km to the north of the capital. It is a large undertaking but nonetheless still a small-scale producer, offering a variety of high-quality red and white wines. Keeping with the Mexican tradition of producing Nebbiolo, this producer offers both a red and rosé wine made from this grape, the latter of which is off-dry. With respect to other red varieties, it also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah as monovarietal wines, along with blends (Tinto 1 and Tinto 2). Although not as prominent, white wines also make up a portion of its production, with a conventional Sauvignon Blanc with high acidity and notes of grass, a Chardonnay with a typical MLF profile as well as a monovarietal Gewurztraminer still in the works, which is a first for Mexico, although time will tell if it will be released.

Dos Etnias is another producer located in the city, although it is important to note that Dos Etnias purchases grapes from multiple regions in the state, other regions of Mexico and even other regions of the world, including Spain, the USA and Argentina. Even though its blends always contain a majority percentage of Mexican grapes, Dos Etnias can’t be considered representative of San Luis Potosí in particular, considering the multiple origins of its grapes. 

Sources:

Clima de San Luis Potosí. INEGI. Online: http://cuentame.inegi.org.mx/monografias/informacion/slp/territorio/clima.aspx?tema=me&e=24

González Bernal, Jimena. “¿Sabias que San Luis Potosí produce vinos?” Jan 1, 2017. El Universal. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/menu/2017/01/6/sabias-que-hay-vino-en-san-luis-potosi

Moisés Gámez. “Emprendimientos vitivinícolas en el contexto de una cultura mezcalera. Aproximaciones al estudio de la vitivinicultura en San Luis Potosí, México”. Estudios Rurales, Vol. 5, N° 9, ISSN 2250-4001, CEAR-UNQ, Buenos Aires, 2015, pp. 77-93.

“Nace en el Desierto Potosino Cava Quintanilla”. Código San Luis. http://www.codigosanluis.com/nace-en-el-desierto-potosino-cava-quintanilla/

“Parámetros climáticos promedio de San Luis Potosí”. Wikipedia. Online: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Luis_Potos%C3%AD_(ciudad)#Clima

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