Abstract

Imported grapes planted in El Paso del Norte around the middle of the seventeenth century grew to be substantial vineyards by the opening decades of the eighteenth century. Some growers had tens of thousands of vines under cultivation and produced wine and brandy that, according to contemporary accounts, rivaled the finest wines of Mexico or even Spain. As the century wore on, the fruits of the vine increased in importance in comparison with other agricultural products. In most years only maize competed with wine and brandy as the most valuable agricultural crop. So important were these commodities to the economy of El Paso that every year as many farmers grew grapes to produce wine and brandy as any other product. Traditionally, most of the annual production was consumed locally, although there was a brisk export trade south to Chihuahua and north to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. This trade continued until the annexation of Mexican territory north of the Rio Grande following the Mexican War in 1848. Wine continued to be produced on both sides of the river until the first decades of the twentieth century when the combination of population growth and salination of the soil ended an industry that had flourished for two and one half centuries.

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Notes

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