Rio Grande Botanical Garden, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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In 1598, Don Juan de Onate led a band of Spanish colonists from New Spain (Mexico) northward to settle the fertile valleys of the upper Rio Grande. The Franciscan monks accompanied the colonists to spread Christianity to the Native Americans.
In 1598, wine was introduced to New Mexico by the Spaniards. The monks needed wine for their daily masses and for about 30 years they imported the wine from the Old World because a SPanish law enacted in 1595 did not allow the production of wine in the New World. The wine was transported from Spain in stoneware jugs and sealed with a cork plug.
English: All Images used are from Wikipedia Commons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Eventually, the Franciscan monks decided to plant grapevines in New Mexico for sacramental wine. The first vines were planted in 1629 at the Piro pueblo just south of Socorro; New Mexico has the oldest grapevies in the country. The cuttings brought by the missionaries were Vitis vinifera, the “mission Grape” and the variety is still grown in New Mexico today.
The Spanish colonists led by conquistadores also established the vineyards along the Rio Grande and wine production began in 1633. By 1800, wine became one of the three top exports from New Mexico. By 1884, New Mexico was the fifth leading wine producer in the U.S.
Today there are about 43 wineries and tasting rooms in New Mexico with over 900 acres of vineyards. The high desert elevation, rich soils, sunny days and cool evenings coupled with controlled irrigation produce a wide variety of interesting wines.
Albuquerque has more than 300 years of history and culture and has been inhabited by American Indians for hundreds of years.
Francisco Cuervo y Valdes
The present day city was founded in 1706 when Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez penned a letter to the Duke of Albuquerque reporting that he had founded a villa along the banks of the Rio Grande. Since then, the city that was originally named after the Duke has grown from a tiny settlement to a rich, multi-cultural metropolis of more thatn 753,000 people.
There are many wineries between Albuquerque and Santa Fe that offer amazing vino con vistas with opportunities to taste New Mexico Wine.
The wineries closest to Albuquerque are between Corrales and Bernalillo. Here’s a list of some Vino con Vista opportunities near Albuquerque New Mexico:
1. Anasazi Fields Winery www.anasazifieldswinery.com
The winery sits on the Western edge of the old village of Placitas, New Mexico between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The vineyards are surrounded by orchards watered by a spring-fed irrigation system that dates back over 1000 years to a time when the Anasazi People farmed the Placitas Valley. These wines are crafted by fruits and berries other than grapes and include plum wine, apricot wine peach wine and blackberry wine. We also make a slightly off-dry Cranberry wine and three grape-based wines enhanced by one of our old fruit wines. All of our wines are aged on oak for one to four years. with an annual Placitas Studio Tour for mother’s day weekend
Wine grapes grown in New Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. Casa Rondena Winery was established in 1995. It is located in the North Valley of Albuquerque in historic Los Ranchos de Albuquerque www.casarondena.com. You can sample the entire portfolio of hand-crafted wines made on the premises at and Tasting Room including:
Viognier – A dry white wine with bright melon flavors and lingering Apricot on the finish. Viognier is the perfect expression of the Southwestern high desert growing region showing its rich mouth-feel and crispy acidity.
Meritage – This classic Bordeaux-style table wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. A bit complex with a lingering finish, our Meritage shows flavors of vanilla and currant.
Sangiovese – A silky, medium-bodied Chianti-style wine, our New Mexico Sangiovese is aged for 12 months in American oak. The perfect table wine with pasta.
Clarion – A delectable Spanish-style blend of 70% Syrah, 28% Tempranillo, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Franc – The original red wine of the Loire Valley in central France, Cabernet Franc grows well here in New Mexico. It exhibits fruit-forward flavors of blackberries, dark cherry and chocolate while being medium-bodied and soft on the finish.
La Sobrina’s Table – An approachable and comfortable blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. A great everyday wine for everyone. Aged in oak 3 months and stainless steel for 9 months.
Founder’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – This is the winemaker’s reserve selection of our best Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 2 years in French Oak barrels. This wine exhibits earthiness and hints of some black cherry, briarwood and peppers.
Rosé – A luscious off-dry Merlot-based wine with crisp hints of strawberry and plum.
Serenade – With its floral bouquet and lively fruitiness, the blend of 87% Riesling and 13% Gewurztraminer give a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.
Animante (Port) – A deep ruby red port-style dessert wine made from New Mexico Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French and American oak for two years.
3. Corrales Winery is one of New Mexico’s newest wineries, founded in 2000 www.corraleswinery.com and produces award winning Muscat Canelli dessert wine, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery incorporates an Indian Pueblo and overlooks the scenic Sandia Mountains.
Gold Medal – 2002 New Mexico State Fair – 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold Medal – 2002 New Mexico State Fair – Francs
Silver Medal – 2002 New Mexico State Fair – 2000 Riesling
Silver Medal – 2002 New Mexico State Fair – 2000 Muscat Canelli
Bronze Medal – 2001 Connoisseur Classic, SW Wine Competition – 1999 Muscat Canelli
Gold Medal – 2000 New Mexico State Fair – 1999 Muscat Canelli
Peoples’ Choice Award – 2000 Bernalillo Wine Festival – 1999 Muscat Canelli
4. Gruet Winery www.gruetwinery.com was awarded the very prestigious title of the United States Wine Producer of the Year! The International Wine and Spirits Competition promotes the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs. The IWSC was founded in 1969 and is the premier competition of its kind in the world. This honor was accepted by Sofian Himeur of Gruet Winery at the Guildhall, City of London IWSC Awards Presentation and Banquet, on Wednesday 17th November 2010.
5. The St. Clair Winery and Bistro opened in the summer of 2005 near the heart of “Historic Old Town” in Albuquerque on Rio Grande. It is the perfect location to enjoy lunch, dinner and a wine flight that will allow you to compare and contrast wines while sitting on the patio and listening to live music on Friday or Saturday night www.stclairvineyards.com
Their “Signature Flight” consists of six, one ounce tastes of your choice from the flight list. They have over 20 wines to choose from including:
St. Clair Malvasia Bianca – Honey & tropical flavors with unforgettable floral aromas
Blue Teal Muscat Canelli – Luscious & rich with tastes of raisins, pears and a spicy finish
St. Clair Riesling – Tropical fruit complimented by a pleasant, crisp acid, semi sweet
Blue Teal Riesling – Pineapple, honey & pear flavors with lively acidity..
St. Clair Gewürztraminer – Ripe apricot, spice and hints of green apple
St. Clair Chardonnay – Nose of oak, citrus and a fruity vanilla finish
St. Clair Mimbres Red-A delightful sweet red with lush lingering berry flavors
St. Clair Nebbiolo – An intense red, nice fruity aromas and a tannic finish
St. Clair Cab-Zin – Lightly oaked Cab blended with a young well-mannered Zinfandel
Blue Teal Rio Rojo – Fruity, with lots of luscious berry flavors, low tannins and nice acid
Blue Teal Pinot Noir – A medium body with hints of cherry, pepper & earth
Blue Teal Shiraz – A full-bodied red with juicy berry notes and subtle oak undertones
My absolute favorite was the St. Clair Reserve Zinfandel – Robust red with ripe berry finish with an opulent texture
DH Lescombes Syrah – Nose of pepper, cassis & cherry, with herb & toasted oak finish
Blue Teal Merlot – Nicely rounded with flavors of smooth berries and light oak
St. Clair Reserve Merlot – Pleasant tannins with raspberry and black currant notes
De La Cruz Malbec – Velvety smooth with deep plum, raisin and a hint of oaky vanilla
St. Clair Meritage – Subtle red cherry and dark berry aromas lead to medium body
Blue Teal Cabernet Sauvignon – Lightly oaked character, ripe berry flavors mild tannins
DH Lescombes Cabernet Sauvignon – Notes of black currant, chocolate, herbs accents
Try the refreshing Champagne Style St. Clair Mimosa, a delightful combination of fresh orange juice & dry champagne or order a slushy Wine a Rita at the bar.
The Vineyard express offers delightfully tasty all inclusive day tours to the wineries and micro breweries of New Mexico on Saturdays April through October www.thevineexpress.com or call the Vineyard Express Tours at 505-292-3657.
Plan to attend the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival over Memorial Day Weekend located 5 miles west of Las Cruces of the I-10 or the New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo over Labor Day Weekend.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and they may be purchased at www.vino-con-vista.com