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Mexico Wines

It was in Parras that the conjunction
of a clear sky, fiery land and the vineyard
that stretches to the end of the plain
materialized for the first time in New Spain.
With time the miracle of the fruit appeared;
the improvised wine press received
the clusters and out flowed the juice that puts
warmth in glasses and in women's cheeks.
The sweet pleasing flavor of the must shared
its well being with every palate.
José Vasconcelos

Mexican Vineyards

Mexican vineyards

The grape in Mexican lands

Grape growing and wine making in Mexico began soon after the Spanish Conquest. The Spaniards carried the seed and found here propitious lands for its cultivation, so necessary to supply the beverage of their ancient gastronomic culture.

That is why the conquistador Hernando Cortez decreed that those settlers who had been given Indians should plant "a thousand sarmentums for every hundred Indians".

In Santa Maria de las Parras, in the northern state of Coahuila, thus baptized by the first missionaries who arrived to evangelize the semi nomadic Chichimeca groups that lived in the region, the arid desert found an oasis nourished by surface waters perfect for growing figs, olives, walnuts, peaches and, above all, grapes.

The Jesuit chronicler Andres Perez Rivas referred to this perfect marriage of the grape with these lands in his Historia de los triunfos de nuestra santa fe, printed in Madrid in 1645. saying "having prospered so well in this land, although unknown before in the Indies until the Spaniards brought it, and the land of Parras embraced so well and with such kindness this pilgrim plant from Castile. that in no part of New Spain does it give more abundant fruit in its gratitude."

New Spain's wine production did not please the merchants who sold wine brought over from the Spanish Peninsula. That is why whatever progress New Spain had made in grape growing and wine production was halted when. jealous of their interests. the merchants managed to convince first the Viceroy Luis de Velasco and later the Viceroy Marquis de Montesclaros to establish dispositions that forbade planting vineyards. altncugti not the benefit of those already existing.

That is why tile El Rosario and San Lorenzo Haciendas in Santa Maria de las Parras, Coahuila, were able to continue their production. If this prohibition had not existed, another story would be told: if despite the disadvantage that this limitation imposed Mexico still produces good wines, we could say that we could have become such important producers as other countries. Today we can witness a growing and better quality wine production in Mexico.

Parras' liquid abundance

Santa Maria de las Parras

Santa María de las Parras

Santa Maria de las Parras is a place where nature still surprises us by its liquid and vegetable abundance amidst an orography of naked stone and cactus.

It was father Juan Agustin de Espinosa, from the Jesuit residence in Zacatecas, who founded the Santa Maria de las Parras Mission on February 18, 1598. In their attempts to evangelize the autochthonous population, the Jesuits distributed vegetable and animal species amongst them and taught them production processes from their native land. There is evidence that, using vines from Santa Maria de las Parras, father Ugarte promoted grape growing and wine production in Baja California, which in time spread to the sixteen missions established there. The Misión de Santo Tomas wine cellars south of Ensenada are heirs of these ancient missions.

The Parras mission's first years were difficult. It had just been settled when it was completely destroyed in 1601 by a violent rebellion, it is said that of its original one thousand five hundred souls only four or six were left. The old Chichimecan inhabitants of the region slowly disappeared, and by 1765 almost no descendants were left. The Tobosos and the Cocoyones, forerunners of the Apaches, razed the missions over and over again, gravely decimating the population.

Santa Maria de las Parras went from being a mission to a town in the first years of the seventeenth century, when a group of families from the state of Tlaxcala settled there. By then, the town had a governor, two mayors, two aldermen and two prosecutors, all from Tlaxcala. It is not by chance that serapes are made in Saltillo: the Tlaxcaltecans brought their textile handicraft tradition to the north. It is also noteworthy that today Parras is not only known for its vineyards and its legacy to our country's history, but also for being an important producer of the cloth used to make jeans.

PART 2: The First Hacienda Owners & The Madero Dynasty

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