The Added-Value Center: Helping Small Producers Gr...

The Added-Value Center: Helping Small Producers Grow

Not only does Aguascalientes stand out as one of the most thriving states in the country and as home to the world-renowned San Marcos National Fair, but also for the resurgence of its wine-producing tradition and continually growing number of producers in the state, promising to transform it into a distinctive region for the sector.

Aguascalientes’ geographic location and perfect weather for vine crops are reflected in the region’s love and vocation for winemaking—a profession that was never completely lost here. In view of a growing interest in the field, Ma Angelica Martinez Diaz, president of the Technological University of Northern Aguascalientes (UTNA), explains that it is the institution’s duty to get involved because it has always sought to form close ties with the state’s productive sector. Additionally, the university is strategically located in the heart of Aguascalientes, a key zone for this agricultural activity.

Consequently, UTNA launched an initiative to reactivate an agreement between the Department of Rural and Agribusiness Development (SEDRAE) and the Somos Vid Aguascalientes Group to create the Added-Value Center (CVA) within the institution’s facilities.

This production center was also a driving factor for the creation of the Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Viniculture, which made this university the only in the country to offer this this course of study, with a vineyard and winery inside its facilities.

Since its first vinification in 2017, the CVA has had a massive impact on the state’s wine industry. With proper planning, the project allows any producer or aficionado to start their own brand.

Currently, a total of thirty winemakers have gotten their start here, three of which were considered among the best wines in the Mexico Selection by Concours Mondial 2019: the 2018 Irana Malbec Rosé, the 2018 Fumata Blanca “Arte y Fuego”, and the 2018 Staccato by Vinicola Hasen-Rosato.  Even the university has its own label, which is currently in the process of being trademarked.

Interest has been so strong that Martinez Diaz said they are expecting to reach 60 tons of production this year, and that there is even a waiting list for wine production at the university, which is why they consider that grape quality and producers have up to three years to vinify  at the Added-Value Center.

A project in constant growth

To keep promoting this industry, the Technological University has several projects in the pipeline. One of them is to enter into international agreements with universities so that local professors can coauthor publications or papers with these institutions. There is also already an existing alliance with the University of California at Davis, which will allow researchers to visit the state and train professors and staff in wine-growing topics.

Moreover, it is UTNA’s objective to double winegrowing  fields on the campus, only this time irrigating with treated water appropriate for farming, setting the example for other producers to replicate the initiative in their own vineyards.

An increase in demand has brought about a plan for the construction of a “twin center“, a lab that is also on the campus. “Depending on how demand grows and on the resources the university can get, the Added-Value Center may expand,” added Martinez Díaz.

Since both the vineyard and the winery are paramount for student training, cross-disciplinary collaboration is being sought from students studying various undergraduate programs at the university.

“Another idea is for young people who start microbusinesses to produce soap, shampoo, and lotion from grape seed. We are currently in talks with the Department of Tourism to create toiletry for hotels. We want to involve all students from different programs in this effort,” concluded Martinez Díaz.