Food + Wine

Alternative Wine Trails

by Evan Rail

Parras Valley, Mexico

Not all of the world's emerging wine regions are complete newcomers. Take Mexico's Parras Valley, where the oldest continually operating winery in the New World, Casa Madero (pictured), was founded by Spanish padres all the way back in 1597. Like something out of an old Clint Eastwood movie, the main town of Parras de la Fuente is an oasis of Spanish-era architecture and whitewashed adobe walls surrounded by the high desert's chaparral, with several rustic but charismatic B&Bs (like Hostal El Farol) just off the main plaza.

For years, Casa Madero overshadowed the region with its immense production of distilled brandies, a drink for which this part of the Mexican state of Coahuila was renowned. But now, the region's Old World–style red wines made from cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, and tempranillo are starting to get much more attention. While the red wines might look to France and Spain for inspiration, Casa Madero's award-winning chardonnays (released under the Casa Grande Reserva Especial label) can even give California's central Monterey Coast a run for its money, blending boatloads of chewy tropical fruit with just a touch of warming oak. Don't overlook the region's other up-and-coming producers, like Bodegas Ferriño, founded in 1860, and smaller, family-owned wineries like Antiguas Bodegas de Perote and Bodegas El Vesubio.

Photo: Courtesy of Mariano O, Flickr

Next: Oregon's trail leads to Idaho >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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