By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi is slated to headline the Freixenet vendimia (grape harvest festival) in the northern central Mexican state of Querétaro on Friday, Aug. 2.
Trevi, often referred to as the “Mexican Madonna,” will be performing during the first night of the three-day vendimia.
The festival, which is organized each year at Freixemet Mexico’s Finca Sala Vivé estate in order to help promote the company’s wines and to instill a better appreciation of winemaking among the Mexican consumers, will also include performances by cumbia band Los Socios del Ritmo on Saturday, Aug. 3, and mariachi and ranchero singer Pablo Montero on Sunday, Aug. 4.
“We are expecting about 15,000 people to attend the festival this year,” explained Finca Sala manager and enologist Lluís Raventós LLopart, who is the chief organizer of the festival, during a press conference to announce the vendimia.
“Everyone who attends will get a chance to sample some of our wines, tour our wine cellars, which are 25 meters underground, attend the concerts and get to crush grapes with their feet,” he said.
There will also be a variety of international and national dishes presented to be paired with the wines, as well as stands selling regional cheeses and handicrafts.
The wines of South Africa — a nation that has been producing quality wines since 1659 — will be showcased as the festival’s international guest of honor.
“Wine appreciation is still in its infancy in Mexico, but consumption is on the rise,” added Gabriel Padilla, head of the Mexican Council of Winemakers (CMV).
“Currently about 3 to 5 million Mexicans (between 2 to 4 percent of the population) consume wine on a regular basis, but we are working hard to increase that figure and introduce wines to new national markets.”
Padilla said that per capita wine consumption in Mexico is also very low, at about 1.7 liters a year, compared to 40 to 42 liters a year in Europe and about 25 to 26 liters per year in other Latin American countries.
Notwithstanding, Padilla said that through wine promotion and educational events such as vendimias – which he said were being held at nearly all of Mexico’s 230-plus wineries this year – the CMV expects to see national per capita consumption reach about 20 liters a year by 2040.
“Events like this help people to appreciate what goes into making wines and to expand the wine culture in Mexico,” Raventós LLopart said.
“We want people to understand that winemaking and wine appreciation are an art, and wine is something that should be consumed in moderation. It is not a means of intoxication.”
The festival, which is open to the general public, is also receiving the support of the Querétaro Tourism Secretariat (Sectur), which has helped to organize special discounted packages for attendees at local hotels throughout the state.
“Querétaro is one of the top non-beach destinations for tourists in Mexico,” said Sectur’s Rodolfo Mendoza.
“One of the big draws of the state is its wine routes, and since it is just a two-hour drive from Mexico City, it is a place that is easy to access.”
Tickets to attend the festival can be purchased in advance for 500 pesos per person or at the Finca Sala Vivé winery during the vendimia for 600 pesos per person.
Freixenet, one of Spain’s most important cava (sparkling wine) houses, has been producing quality sparkling wines in the 460,000-square-meter Finca Sala Vivé estate just outside San Juan del Río since of 1998.
And with an annual production of more than 2 million bottles of mostly sparkling wine each year – 90 percent of which are sold and consumed nationally – Freixenet México has in the last decade sparked a thirst for bubbly vintages that has led to a 12 percent annual growth in demand for fizz over the last five years.
With more than 20 variations of sparkling wines to choose from, Freixenet, which controls 85 percent of the Mexican bubbly market, is now rivaling the French product for quality and cachet.
“We use exactly the same technique that is used in producing great champagne,” explained Freixenet sommelier Fernanda Ortega.
“The wine is produced by inducing in-bottle secondary fermentation to effect carbonation.”
Freixenet, which was one of the first Mexican vineyards to celebrate the annual grape harvesting, also produces a variety of still reds, whites and rosés.