BAJA CALIFORNIA.- The fight for protecting the Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley wine region) has dominated the conversation during these past few weeks among all those who are interested in Mexican wines.
The problem, although apparently simple, actually has a deeper source that few want to face: ignorance and complacency. There are, of course, large political and monetary interest that muddy the situation, but in the end it comes down to ignorance on the one hand—from politicians and businessmen, lured to an area that has brought disorderly growth and which now only is treated like a business opportunity— and on the other hand to complacent from those who fed into the culture of appearances.
Before I continue, I want to be very clear that I'm in favor of protecting production areas. But above all else, I'm in favor of the development of wine culture.
That is why I believe wine producers are at least partially guilty for what is happening. A lot of work just doesn't happen (i.e., structuring and professionalizing the industry).
I'm curious as to how everyone says the biggest problem facing the Guadalupe Valley is the lack of water (which is undoubtedly a large problem), when the truly biggest problem facing the Valley is a lack of education. This lack of education isn't just a the greatest problem our valleys face, but it is also Mexico's greatest problem.
Why is it an education problem?
Because, we still do not understand what wine is and what is its place in the daily life of consumers (including potential consumers). Many producers created this environment of superficiality when it comes to consuming wine. Fashionable. A social status. A hobby.
Few are those who promote wine as a cultural factor. Most know how to make wine, but few truly understand what it can represent, beyond its commercialization.
The complaints and protests alone seem hollow if they aren't backed up by clear ideas. Solving these problems won't come from fighting a few corrupt politicians or greedy businessmen. The solutions will come first from teaching the producers themselves and then teaching all those who approach the world of wine.
Which is why I found the news they were planning on canceling next year's vintage festivities somewhat ironic. For me, these events or "fiestas" are a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the Mexican wine industry. They are events that, instead of teaching about wine culture and being intelligently promoted, they are used for everything (literally everything) except for benefiting the nascent wine culture.
Dinners with four, five or eight chefs, music, dances, socialites. Do they learn anything? What do consumers get from these events that is transcending?
Of course, there is always a place for festivities, but only after work. I believe a lot of this could have been avoided?
Being in favor of a "real valley" (whatever that means, I'm using a phrase employed by those who "defend" the valley) has to be, I believe, a permanent commitment, a commitment that is reflected in a comprehensive development of the area that not only benefits producers, but that also benefits its employees and the region's residents, but above all, that it benefits cultural development.
My reasons for defending the production areas are because of the possibility that it serves a higher purpose.
We will only learn from this event if we see beyond the figures and spontaneous situations and we solve the deep issues; education and work.
Let us not make the Valley just another example of what is wrong with Mexico. Let us make it an example of what is possible.