Grapevines were brought to New Mexico by Spanish Colonists from New Spain. The Colonists, whose travelers included Monks, needed wine for their daily mass, which lead them to plant a variety
of wine grapes in New Mexico soils.
New Mexico is the oldest wine growing region in the United States. The first grapevines were brought in 1629 to Senecu, a Piro Indian pueblo south of Socorro.
Wine production began at Senecu in 1633 and continued for over 40 years, providing the sacramental win for the state.
New Mexico now has 42 wineries and tasting rooms, producing almost 500,000 gallons of wine a year.
In 1598, Don Juan de Oñate led Spanish colonists to the upper valleys of the Rio Grande. The Franciscan monks who settled there needed to hold daily mass, central to which is the Holy Communion, a sacrament that includes the consumption of wine.
Before grapevines were planted in New Mexico, the Franciscan monks had wine shipped from Spain. The sacramental wine was light pink in color, had a sherry-like
taste, was 18% alcohol, and 10% sugar. The wine was transported in jugs resembling those in Roman times. At that time, Spanish wine exports provided one fourth of Spain's foreign trade
Wineries dot the highway from Taos to Sunland Park. You can download a wine tour map from www.nmwine.com. Try not to miss the wineries in communities such as Placitas,
Corrales, Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, and in the Four Corners region of the state.
In addition to wine tasting, some wineries and cities sponsor yearly festivals. Popular ones include wine festivals in Southern New Mexico, Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque.
Along with its tasting room in Deming, St. Clair Winery also has bistros in Albuquerque, Farmington, and Las Cruces.
Luna Rossa winery has a tasting room in Deming, but they also have a store and pizzeria in Las Cruces.
New Mexico is a vibrant wine making region, with many excellent choices of white and red varietals. This includes:
For a unique taste experience, visit Anasazi Fields (the winery is in Placitas, but they also have a wine bar/tasting room in Los Alamos). Their wines are handcrafted from fruits and berries, to produce selections such as:
For more information about wines and wine tasting in New Mexico, visit:
When wine tasting in New Mexico, remember that you will be at a high altitude, no matter where you are. It is therefore important to drink a lot of water, more so than you might otherwise. And of course, never drink & drive. Instead, sign up for a wine tour, where you can taste to your hearts content, but leave the driving (or rafting ... yes, you can do a Raft & Wine Tour on the Rio Grande) to someone else.