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Wine column: Yes, they make wine in Mexico!

Armando Hernandez is making us laugh -- again.

"I know, I know, too much blah, blah, blah," said the head sommelier.

"Now, it's time to glug, glug, glug."

It's how Hernandez, who works at the three Velas Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, makes the transition from talking to us about Mexican wines to drinking Mexican wines with us.

This is when many of you might ask: They make wine in Mexico?

Well, yes they do and they are excellent.

My wife, Kerry, and I found all this out on a recent vacation to Mexico when we were staying at Mar del Cabo, one of Velas Resorts' three, side-by-side-by-side properties at the tip of the Baja Peninsula.

The other two are Grand Velas and Grand Velas Boutique.

When we heard there was a Mexican wine tasting at the Grand Velas we immediately signed up.

</who>Armando Hernandez is the head sommelier for the three Velas Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico -- Grand Velas, Grand Velas Boutique and Mar del Cabo.

Hernandez met us and a group of other wine-curious tourists in the top-floor, special-events bar overlooking the resort's palm-treed pool complex, the beach and the glittering Sea of Cortez at twilight.

He gives us a quick history, explanation and introduction to Mexican wines, thus the "blah, blah, blah."

Mexico is actually the oldest wine-producing region in the Americas, dating back to when Spanish colonizers brought their love of wine to the New World in the 1500s.

While Mexico is better known for tequila, margaritas and Corona beer, it does have a burgeoning wine industry and culture.

The key in Mexico's year-round hot climate is to have vineyards at higher elevations that stay cool and produce grapes with nice acidity to make crisp and refreshing whites and roses and smooth reds.

Then it was onto the "glug, glug, glug" to taste a cross-section of Mexican wines.

We started with the La Cetto 2022 Sierra Blanca Sauvignon Blanc, a clean and fresh sipper with aromas and flavours of lemon, pineapple and herbs from the mountainous region of Guadalupe, Baja.

The Tres Raices Rose 2022 is a pretty pink, think that classic strawberries-and-cream profile.

It's a blend of Grenache Noir and the little-known Caladoc grapes from another high-altitude region -- Guanajuato in central mainland Mexico.

Hernandez surprised us and made us chuckle again when he served the Casa Madero Shiraz red wine chilled.

When it's hot out you want to sip your wine chilled, even if it is red.

As a result, the Shiraz, from another high-elevation region of the Mexican mainland (Parras) has cool and lifted flavours and aromas of blackberry and white pepper.

The wines are on the menu at restaurants and bars throughout the three Velas Resorts.

It's a shame we can't buy Mexican wines in BC.

But, you can use that as an excuse to book a holiday to Mexico and drink its wines.

</who>Haywire Winery in Summerland has launched Certified Local, a program of perks and discounts for Okanagan residents.

Certified Local

There are perks to being a wine-loving Okanagan resident.

Haywire Winery in Summerland has launched Certified Local, a program that Okanagan residents can sign up for to get tastings and discounts at the winery and 15% off food at Shaughnessy's Cove and Zia's Stonehouse restaurants in Summerland and 15% off stays at Summerland Waterfront Resort.

"We wanted to find a fun way to thank our cherished locals for their unwavering support over the years," said Haywire founder Christine Coletta.

Sign up and get your free Certified Local card at https://haywirewinery.com/certified-local/.

The card is good in the off seasons, from March 15 to June 15 and from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15.

At the winery, Certified Local is good for a booked-ahead or drop-in 'flash tasting' for you and up to three guests for four wines in the new lounge or out on the patio, 10% of any wine, anytime, advance notice about special events and tastings and a special gift with your second shipment if you also sign up for the Haywire Club.

Haywire is located at 18576 Fosbery Rd.

</who>The Vancouver International Wine Festival run tomorrow through March 3.

Vancouver wine fest

It's billed as the No. 1 wine party in Canada and one of the best wine fests in North America.

It's the Vancouver International Wine Festival with 41 events between tomorrow and March 3.

Many of the seminars, lunches and dinners are already sold out.

But, there are still tickets available for some events, including the giant International Festival Tastings at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Thursday, Feb. 29, Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2.

Tickets range from $115 to $135 at www.vanwinefest.ca.

Almost 150 wineries from 12 countries will be pouring wines at the fest with a big emphasis on Italy because it's the theme country this year with 71 wineries from Italy attending.

Steve MacNaull is a NowMedia Group reporter, Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar. Reach him at smacnaull@nowmediagroup.ca. His wine column appears in this space every Friday afternoon.



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