"The Land of Enchantment," called "Tierra del Encanto" in Spanish, is home to forty-two commercial wineries and tastings room, according to the New Mexico Wine Growers Association www.nmwine.com, with many opening annually in New Mexico’s fledging wine country. The high desert climate creates sun-kissed days and cool nights, which allows grapes to slowly ripen and chill out at night to retain essential acidity. Some of the area’s specialties include Chardonnay, Johannisburg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sparkling wines.
With roots dating back to 1629 when “Mission Grapes” were first planted in the state on the east bank of the Rio Grande. But the states, modern wine industry revved to a slow start in 1978. Five years later, New Mexico’s most prominent winery, Gruet Winery, was founded with the arrival from the Champagne region of France, brother and sister Nathalie and Laurent Gruet.
French-style sparkling wine specialists, most of Gruet’s bubbly sell for near or under twenty-dollars and are available across the country and receive kudos all around. The initially planted grapes in Lordsburg, NM and a few years later moved to hot spring town of Truth or Consequences (real name!), which is about one hundred and fifty miles south of Alburquerque and has grape-growing friendly mild seasons. They also make terrific Pinot Noir.
Other prominent wineries are Casa Rondeña in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, known for their elegant Viogner and Meritage. While Vivac Winery in Embudo, twenty-five miles south of Taos and forty-five miles north of Sante Fe has a nine hundred square foot adobe tasting room decorated with contemporary paintings and inspired black and white photos.
The wineries are sprinkled around the state, which divides their wine country into the northern, central, southern sections of the state. The latter is where most has super strong sun conditions and is where the majority of the wineries are located – including Gruet.
The outdoor opportunities are as varied as New Mexico’s eclectic terrain with six of the planet’s seven climatic zones, high mountains and high desert plains. Over a third of the state’s land is public, including thirteen national parks and monuments, five national forests and thirty-four state parks. While the Rocky Mountains attract skiers, hikers, climbers and mountain bikers like kids to candy, balloonists and gliders frequent the air, road cyclists the open roads and paddlers the web of waterways.