the first contemporary Mexican winery
to make natural wine in clay vessels
“Crazy professor” is what people who know him say about Marcelo Castro Vera.
His passion and zest for life just takes you completely by surprise. A man of strong conviction he does not dilute his message and goes straight to the core of why natural wines, or any of his life choices really, most of which are unconventional, is the road he decided to pursue.
Marcelo’s professional background is in hospitality. With training in Swiss hotel school followed by working experience in one of the renowned hotels of Washington DC, he has returned to Mexico to take charge of the family hotel. For 8 years he has steered that ship - an experience to which he refers to as being the best business and life education he could have received. It is during that time that Marcelo’s fame for being a daring entrepreneur began to establish. His vision went far ahead of current trends and as most visionaries, his views were often misunderstood. Despite the resistance however, he relentlessly lead his team towards an exciting future which made the hotel what it is today and helped shape the tourism offer of San Miguel de Allende.
The course of his life has drastically changed a few years ago which took Marcelo from a stable but limiting work environment to a wild ride of establishing his own business. True to his visionary nature him and his family embarked upon an adventure of trial and error resulting in a group of brands, which all together form one integral tourism concept. El Nidal - the shipping container hotel in the middle of Central Mexico’s mountains being the heart of them all, followed by the Octagono winery, Penca and Piedra distillery, Serrana brewery and a brand of spring water Rocosa. El Nidal boasts an unpretentious but an absolute powerhouse of communal eatery named Cocina Abierta - an open air, wood-fired kitchen where a team of local community women produce comforting and flavor packed food that will steal your heart and rouse your taste buds.
Nowadays you can find Marcelo giving degustations in his new endeavor - Tasting Room which is located on Tenerías #2 in San Miguel de Allende, where you can try every single beverage that Marcelo produces along with a small taste of Cocina Abierta offerings. The best way is to opt for an all-in package with a group of people who you enjoy spending time with, or come on your own and meet exciting new people which seem to be gravitating naturally towards the tiny 40 sq.mt. space that packs a much bigger personality.
We make wine for pleasure, to experiment, to have fun. This results in a product that breaks rules and pushes the boundaries of convention. Steered by empirical method and eschewing rigid controls of traditional winemaking, we preserve the integrity of every process. We make it the old way, guided by intuition and taste. This wine breaks paradigms, does not people-please, and is honest in its expression - the same qualities that we appreciate in people.
Our goal is to let the grape express itself with no human interpretation. We use four basic processes executed with zero technological intervention - pressed by foot, inviting wild fermentation with no industrial yeast or sugars added, macerated in buried clay vessels and hand pressed with rustic utensils.
Our wine is fermented for up to 9 months in buried clay pots molded by local San Felipe and Dolores Hidalgo artisans. The process of sourcing these vessels brought about the revival of ancestral methods of making pottery - a tradition almost lost in time in a compromise for a quicker way of making pottery that satisfies mass demand. We have tried to recreate the classic Georgian kvevri form, and ended up with a hybrid that has a particular Mexican imprint. We are happy with how our clay pots turned out, it is our belief they’re the reason our wines have a very particular character, unique to our winery. It is our hope that as natural winemaking gradually picks up in Mexico more winemakers turn to local artisans to source their anforas, instead of turning to foreign experts, thereby boosting local economies and breathing new life into this millenarian art form.
Octagono is rebellious by nature, we make a point to conquer the fear and defy comfort zones. We love the grape growers we work with as they, to a certain extent, mirror this quality to us by insisting to grow their grapes naturally, sometimes choosing unpopular varieties that we so enjoy working with - like Rosa del Peru. We don’t shy away from experimenting with table grapes, like Red Globe, which surprised us with its unexpected joyous temperament. We live for these experiences that fire us up even more to keep on innovating and pushing boundaries.
Octagono also produces experimental lots of naturally sparkling Pet Nat and Piquétte wines which finish fermentation in bottle, fruit co-ferments, as well as small batch experimental blends of our regular white and orange wines. Subject to availability, sometimes available for tasting in our San Miguel de Allende Tasting Room on Tenerias #2 in Centro. To reserve your tasting experience please contact us at +52 (415) 178 7831
Video courtesy of lanzandolazaros.com