New Mexico has a small but thriving wine producing industry. Following New Mexico’s wine trails is a good way to explore the various regional attractions of the state while also taking the opportunity to visit the area’s wineries along the way.
Interestingly enough, New Mexico is the country’s oldest wine growing region. Wine production started in 1633 in central New Mexico along the Rio Grande where a variety of grapes originally from Spain were grown to produce sacramental wine. At one point in the long history of New Mexico wines, the state was the fifth largest producer in the nation at almost a million gallons per year. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, droughts, floods and Prohibition worked to diminish the vineyard areas such that the industry almost disappeared. The industry started its rebirth in the late 1970’s with a few amateur operations. Since then, both commercial and amateur operations have grown and many producers have achieved national as well as international recognition for their quality wines. As of 2011, New Mexico has over 40 wineries and tasting rooms producing almost 700,000 gallons of wine per year.
Visitors to the Santa Fe can experience the northern wine trail that leads from Santa Fe through Espanola and Velarde north through Dixon and Taos. Some of our favorite wineries in this region are Vivac and La Chiripada in Dixon. Vivac is focused on complex reds aged in French oak and has a tasting room/gallery that is open seven days a week. La Chiripada offers wines ranging in style from dry barrel-fermented whites to fruity picnic wines and cellar-quality reds.
Black Mesa in beautiful Velarde produces a variety of selections including a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling and Chardonnay. Estrella Del Norte Vineyard located in the scenic Pojoaque Valley, a 25 minutes north of Santa Fe on the High Road to Taos, has a tasting room featuring their offerings as well as award winning wines from other Northern New Mexico wineries. Santa Fe also has a wine tasting room within walking distance of both of our inns, Vino del Corazon at 235 Don Gaspar. Their most popular wines are Santa Fe Siesta, a spicy sangria style red, reserve Merlot and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Santa Fe also hosts several wine and food events of note. On the Fourth of July weekend at the 200-acre Spanish colonial living history museum, Los Golondrinas, over a dozen local New Mexico wineries are present for tastings and direct sales. Later in the year in September, the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta is held. This is the state’s largest and premier wine and food event. This weeklong event features wine maker dinners, a wine auction, seminars, and cooking demonstrations with nationally prominent chefs. The event culminates with the “big event” where over 100 wineries from around the globe and numerous local restaurants serve their signature offerings in the spectacular setting of the Santa Fe Opera.
So, on your travels to Santa Fe and through out Northern New Mexico, be sure to allow time to sample the bounty of New Mexico’s family owned wineries. Not only do they offer a great variety of local wines, many of their vineyards and tasting rooms are located in stunning scenic settings near other significant attractions of interest to visitors.