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07 July 2024

In vino veritas - trip to the Casa Madero winery in Parras

 

Hola! 

holidays in Europe are in full swing and you are probably sipping wine, basking in the rays of the setting sun.

If so, I invite you to a trip to the vineyard, as the saying "in Vino veritas" says.

In the heart of the desert landscape of northern Mexico, in the small town of Parras, lies a hidden gem that attracts wine lovers from all over the world - the Casa Madero winery. The Parras Valley has unique geographical and climatic conditions that make it an ideal place for growing vines. It is here, in the heart of the state of Coahuila, in the oldest vineyard in the Americas, that our extraordinary journey, full of discoveries and surprises, begins. Let's take a closer look at this fascinating region that has become the cradle of Mexican wine.

 

 

 

Parras Valley: Geographic and Climatic Treasures of Mexico

The Parras Valley is located at an altitude of approximately 1,500 meters above sea level, which gives it unique geographical features. It is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain ranges, which protect the valley from strong winds and extreme weather conditions. This natural barrier creates a microclimate favorable to viticulture.

The soils of the Parras Valley are varied, but are dominated by limestone and clay soils, which are particularly favorable for vines. Limestone soils have excellent drainage, allowing vine roots to reach deep in search of water and nutrients. Clay soils, on the other hand, retain water well, providing plants with a stable source of moisture during drier periods.

 

 

 

The climate of the Parras Valley

The climate of the Parras Valley is classified as arid or semi-arid, with marked differences between the seasons. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C, while winters are cool but mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. This significant temperature range between day and night is beneficial for the vines because it allows the grapes to ripen optimally, maintaining the balance between sugars and acids.

The specific climatic and geographical conditions of the Parras Valley have a key impact on the quality of wines produced in this region. Warm days and cool nights favor even grape ripening, which allows the full spectrum of aromas and flavors to develop. Thanks to large temperature differences, the grapes retain their freshness and natural acidity, which is crucial for the production of well-balanced wines.

The limestone soils of the Parras Valley contribute to the minerality of the wines, which gives them their characteristic complexity and depth. The good drainage properties of the soil allow you to avoid excess moisture, which is especially important in dry climates, preventing the development of fungal diseases and ensuring the health of the vines.

 

 

 

Sustainable Agriculture and Adaptation

Winemakers in the Parras Valley, including Casa Madero, use sustainable growing methods to make the most of the region's natural resources. Techniques such as sparing irrigation, soil erosion control and integrated pest management help maintain the health of the vines and the environment.

Casa Madero, with care for the environment, also invests in modern technologies that help monitor weather and soil conditions, which allows for precise adjustment of cultivation practices to changing conditions.

 

 

 

History that comes to life

If you are in Mexico and plan to visit more than just the city, a trip to Parras will be a wonderful ending to your stay. Especially if you are interested in winemaking. To reach the valley, you just need to fly to Monterrey, the second largest city in Mexico. From here, drive to Saltillo, where you can stay for 2 days to see the Desert Museum or the Cola de Caballo waterfalls in the nearby mountains. From here you will have to cover 150 km via the fast expressway or the slightly slower local road #40. I assure you it's worth it. The views of the desert and abandoned habitats on both sides of the road remain in memory.

The exit to Parras and access to the vineyard are very well marked. Just after passing the directional signs, you will see endless rows of vines.

Enter the gate and we are there. However, before you go to Parras, you must book your tickets in advance. Guests come here from all over the world.

Preferably directly on the vineyard's website: http://madero.com/

Just choose the day and time. Groups start on weekends from 9:20, every 20 minutes, so you will definitely find a suitable time for yourself. On weekdays, groups are formed from 12:20. The last group on weekends is at 5:20 p.m. and on weekdays at 3:40 p.m. The price per person is 955 pesos, or approx. 50 USD.

Casa Madero, founded in 1597, is a winery with an extremely rich history. From the moment we crossed the gates of the vineyard, we felt as if we had gone back in time. Our guide, a passionate oenologist, began our tour with stories about the origins of Casa Madero. We learned that the first vines were planted here by Spanish colonists who discovered that Parras' unique climate and soil were ideal for growing grapes.

All interesting stories about the beginnings of the vineyard are told during a tour of the "Melex" between the rows of vines, a walk around the production buildings and during the tasting of 3 types of wine.

 

 

 

Casa Madero: The oldest vineyard in the Americas

Casa Madero, founded in 1597, is considered the oldest winery in the Americas. Her story is a fascinating tale of determination, passion and adaptation to changing conditions. Let us immerse ourselves for a moment in this history, which is as rich as the wines that are made there.

 

 


Origins: Spanish Colonists and Missions

The history of Casa Madero begins during the Spanish colonization of Mexico. After the conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Spaniards began to establish settlements in the newly conquered lands. In 1597, Spanish settler Lorenzo García received land in the Parras Valley from King Philip II, where he founded a vineyard. It was here, in the heart of the desert landscape, that García planted the first vines brought from Europe.

The first wines produced in Casa Madero were intended mainly for religious purposes, for missionaries and colonists. The climatic conditions of the Parras Valley turned out to be favorable for growing vines - warm days, cool nights and specific soil created an ideal environment for grapes. However, it was not without challenges. The colonists had to struggle with lack of water, pests and various vine diseases.

Despite the difficulties, the vineyard grew and prospered. By the 18th century, Casa Madero was already well known in the region and beyond. The vineyard became the center of the social and economic life of the Parras Valley. The wine produced at Casa Madero began to gain recognition not only in Mexico, but also abroad.

 

 

 

19th Century: Transformations and Modernization

In the 19th century, Casa Madero underwent significant changes. In 1893, Don Evaristo Madero, great-grandfather of the future president of Mexico, Francisco I. Madero, took over the vineyard and introduced a number of modernizations. He invested in modern technologies, imported new grape varieties and employed qualified oenologists. This was a key moment in the history of Casa Madero, allowing the winery to enter a new era of quality and innovation.

 

20th Century: Survival and Development

The 20th century brought many challenges, including the Mexican Revolution and various economic crises. Despite this, Casa Madero has survived these difficult times thanks to its flexibility and adaptability. The winery continued to produce high-quality wines, winning numerous awards and recognition around the world.

 

 

 

Contemporary: Tradition and Innovation

Today, Casa Madero is a modern vineyard that combines traditional production methods with the latest technologies. The winery is managed by the descendants of Don Evaristo Madero, who continue the legacy of their ancestors with the same passion and commitment. Casa Madero produces a wide range of wines, from white and rosé to red and sparkling, which receive the highest marks and awards at international competitions. This year alone, the red 3V won a "Michelin Star". Shiraz 2020 Gran Reserva and Shiraz 2022, silver and Gran Reserva Malbec 2020, gold medal at the 2024 World Wine Exhibition in Brussels. Such an impressive achievement.

However, Casa Madero is not only about the history of wine. It is also the cultural and historical heritage of the Parras region. The vineyard is part of the local community, supporting numerous cultural and educational initiatives. Each wine produced at Casa Madero carries history and tradition, connecting the past with the present.

 

 

 

A walk through the vineyards

As we walked through the expansive vineyards, our guide shared fascinating facts about the different grape varieties grown at Casa Madero. With each subsequent story, I felt more and more connected to this land and its history. The eye was drawn to the rows of vines that stretched to the horizon, and the delicate scent of grapes hung in the air, putting us into a state of blissful relaxation.

 

 

 

Wine production process

The next stage of our adventure was a visit to the winery, where I could see with my own eyes how Casa Madero wine is made. From fermentation to aging in oak barrels, each step of the winemaking process was carefully explained. I was fascinated by the precision and passion with which Casa Madero employees approach their work. I noticed boards informing about responsibility for individual processes, which for me is proof of the application of the KAIZEN philosophy. We also learned about modern technologies that help maintain the highest quality of wine while maintaining traditional production methods.

 

 


Tasting – a feast for the senses

The highlight of our visit was, of course, the wine tasting. In the elegant tasting room, overlooking the huge barrels, we had the opportunity to taste various wines produced at Casa Madero. Each wine told its own story, from delicate whites to full-bodied reds. Our sommelier guided us through the subtleties of flavors and aromas, helping us understand what makes each of these wines unique. It was a real feast for the senses.

 

 


However, a visit to Casa Madero is not only about wine. It is also a meeting with people who proudly continue a centuries-old tradition. I had the opportunity to talk to local people who were happy to share their stories and stories about life in Parras. Their hospitality and warmth made me feel at home. And if we feel good, the language barrier disappears with each sip of wine.

 

 

 

Everything good ends quickly

Leaving Casa Madero after almost 2 hours, I was enchanted by this place and full of gratitude for this extraordinary experience. The trip to this vineyard was not only a lesson in the history and wine production process, but also a real adventure that allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and tradition of this extraordinary place. Casa Madero is more than just a vineyard - it is a living history that is still writing its next chapters. It is a story of constant evolution and survival. From humble beginnings as a small vineyard founded by Spanish colonists, through periods of prosperity and modernization, to today's modern winery that is gaining international recognition. Casa Madero is a place where tradition meets innovation, and each bottle of wine tells a story full of passion, dedication and love for the land.

The Parras Valley is a true Mexican treasure that continues to delight wine lovers around the world.

This is proof of the continuing validity of the old Latin saying: "In Vino Veritas"

Until next time!

 

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The Casa Madero wine collection is available for purchase in the winery's shop.#casamadero #vino #mexico #parras
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