EconomyFinancialAvoiding a crisis: drought in Monterrey echoes among winemakers

Avoiding a crisis: drought in Monterrey echoes among winemakers

Climate change is beginning to put the global economy in check. In recent months, news about floods, droughts and fires have been featured in news and newspaper headlines around the world. In Mexico, the water crisis in Monterrey set off alerts at various levels of government, from municipal and state to federal.

Overnight, brewers, soft drink companies and steel companies – designated by the federal government as the largest consumers of water in the entity – had to return part of the water that had been granted to them years ago and that they had stored in their wells. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador even said that no more permits would be given to produce beer in the north of the country.

This situation resonated in other sectors that also operate in areas with little water availability, such as the wine industry, specifically those wineries with a presence in Valle de Guadalupe, the wine-producing area located in Ensenada, Baja California.

Hans Backhoff, president of the Mexican Wine Council (CMV), explains that in this region the local government is already promoting a project to use revitalized water in grape production. “It is treated water with the appropriate qualities for growing vines. We have already seen that there are very successful projects both in Napa and in Israel; they are having favorable results related to the quality and the best use and availability of water. The project is taking course and could be a long-term solution,” Backhoff said in an interview with Expansión .

The president of the Mexican Wine Council projects that, if the project is completed in the coming years, 6,000 hectares of grapes for wine could be added to the Valle de Guadalupe, which would translate into a greater availability of Mexican wine. In Baja California there are 4,270 hectares planted with vines.

“It is in a fairly advanced phase and could be the first example at the national level, and one of the first in the world, to be considered as a project to refer to a problem as important as water,” says the CEO of the Monte Xanic winery.

Agriculture demands 75% of the available water, 10% is for human use, and the remaining 15% is for industrial use. The Aquae Foundation calculates that to produce a bottle of wine, 720 liters of water are used and for an apple juice, it is 190 liters of water.

Backhoff, who recognizes that water scarcity is a global problem, assures that the grape is one of the agricultural products that requires less water for its cultivation, and that is why it is possible to grow wine grapes in semi-desert regions. To this is added that the plantations are irrigated through a drip system. “The evolution of technology allowed us to be much more efficient in the use of irrigation in the field of vine cultivation,” he declares.

Valle Redondo and its sustainable commitment

Valle Redondo , the producer of California and Cuatro Soles wines, has invested in reducing its water consumption. “In Aguascalientes we haven’t had a drought yet. Fortunately, we haven’t had these problems like in the north, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us, because we buy fruit from growers all over the country. These droughts mean that the productions are shorter and the quality of the fruit decreases,” says Christian Girón, the company’s head of marketing.

In a telephone conversation at the end of August, the manager reported that for two years they have invested close to 20 million dollars to deploy technologies to treat and recycle water and, also, for the cogeneration of energy at its Aguascalientes plant.

“We are expanding the production plant, which will be built under this sustainable concept. We treat and reuse water, there is no waste of water in all the production lines of our products”, he assures.

Valle Rendondo, which also manufactures Sonrisa, Frutte and Natura juices, has also focused on training field workers, teaching them new agricultural techniques to have better harvests and use less water. This also allows the company to guarantee optimal products for the manufacture of all its beverage lines.

The trainings are given by Valle Redondo staff and by experts in new methods for planting apples, grapes and other fruits used in their manufacturing processes.

“In the last two years we have saved 20% of water and we calculate that once this project is finished, which is five years, we will be able to have savings greater than 50% of the water we used before,” he concludes.

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