Leonardo Ricárdez is a Mexican winemaker who began to make wine in New Zealand and only this year is marketing his product in Mexico.
When Leonardo Ricárdez started producing wine on his own, in 2014, his feet were a long way from Mexico.
“At first, I thought about making wine in Mexico, but as things turned out, they offered me a permanent job here in New Zealand. So it was the opportunity to continue learning, here with super modern technology, I took advantage of the fact that they offered me a job to continue learning about the industry, about enology in general. When I was here permanently, I said ‘I have to start’ ”, says the Mexican agronomist and winemaker.
Created in 2014, Cielito offers three types of varietal wines: pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc, whose best manifestation in New Zealand is in Blehnheim, where Ricárdez lives, in the extreme northeast of the southern island of the country.
Since last October, his wine has been distributed for the first time in the country where he was born, in Mexico City, Puebla, and Cancun, where he managed to send around 2,000 liters of wine out of the almost 2,400 he produced.
“The idea always began with the objective of selling in Mexico, it is the world level of the few markets where consumption is growing,” he said.
From 2011 to 2017, the importation of wine from New Zealand to Mexico grew steadily, reaching 732 thousand dollars; however, between 2018 and 2019 it hit a slump, falling to 527,000 and then exceeding $ 779,000. Between January and August of this year, imports of these beverages from the country total $ 406,000, according to data from the Ministry of the Economy. It is one of the 30 products with the highest export value from that country to Mexico.
According to Statista, between 2012 and 2019, the wine market in Mexico grew 29%, going from 1,154 million dollars to 1,489.9 million dollars and except for 2020, as a result of the impact of the pandemic, it is expected to maintain its growth over the next 5 years to $ 2 billion, an increase of 78.5% compared to 2012.
Until 2018, the average per capita consumption of wine in the country was 1 liter per year, a figure still far from world leaders such as Portugal, France, and Italy, where they average 62, 50, and 44 liters per year, according to the International Organization of the Vine and Wine. In that year, over 122 million liters were consumed in the country.
However, the president of the Mexican Wine Council, Hans Backhoff, trusts that the growth of the consumption of this drink will grow 40% in the next decade.
Leonardo’s goal is, in no more than five years, to become independent for the production of his wine, which he currently makes in a friend’s winery, where he processes around three tons of grapes. So yes, to be able to produce your own wine in Mexico, a dream that in New Zealand would have required an investment of about $ 30,000.
“The idea is to become independent and then take advantage of the fact that the harvest of Baja (California) and Spain are at different periods (than in NZ). If I can become independent before, then before ”, he maintains.
Ricárdez gave the name of Cielito to his brand in honor of all his loved ones. “In Mexico, we say a lot ‘my heaven’; your partner, your children, your parents. It is a tribute to the special people in my life: my daughter, my partner, my family ”, she says.
While the image of the company, a hot air balloon, corresponds to the winemakers who travel the world to learn new techniques for winemaking.