Every year J and I take an annual long weekend away without the kids. This year we landed in sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico with a list of some good restaurant recommendations and things to do, but without a thought of wine. We were thinking more Mezcal and Margaritas. The Santa Fe Wine Festival was going on and we thought it kismet and decided to find our what indeed New Mexico wine is. Boy were we shocked!
The wine industry in New Mexico has started to take up speed in the past few years and a lot of the vineyards have only been around for a few years (with the exception of Gruet which has been around longer and whose sparkling wines can be found across most of America). Some hardworking and friendly winemakers happily greeted us and introduced us to the varied world of New Mexico Wine. This nascent wine industry as vineyard owner and winemaker, Robert Jaramillo of Jaramillo Vineyards explained is trying all different kinds of grapes from hybrids to vitis vinifera and the variety of grapes grown is due to the varying climates in New Mexico which ranged from maritime to continental with varying altitudes.
Of the participants we visited, we had three favorite producers that I wanted to share with you. If you are interested in purchasing wine from these vineyards, please contact them to see if they are able to ship to your state.
Jaramillo Vineyards is owned and managed by the charming Robert Jaramillo who is a former pilot and Naval academy graduate. He comes from a family of former grape growers and his extensive European travels and time spent educating himself has led him to introduce the famous varietals of vitis vinifera that most people are used to such as: Malbec, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, and Barbera. He has also brought Norton, the grape of Thomas Jefferson, west of Missouri. While although only a few years old his wines have won medals in the state competition as well as the NY Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. The favorite red we sampled was the Cabernet Franc which had tastes of red and black plums, baking spices and violets with firm tannins. Our favorite white wine we sampled is a great summer – the Summer Sombra. This wine is delicious and coiffable with aromas of pear, blossom, peaches, and lemon.
Casa Abril is another family operation that is doing a nice job creating international varietal wines. The winemaker is the daughter who studied at UC Davis’ acclaimed program and they specialize in Spanish and Argentinian varieties that they believe are suited for their vineyard in Algondones, NM. We sampled many wines from the son Ray, who helps out with the vineyard as well. Our favorite wine is the 2015 Malbec, which was purple in color, filled with black fruits and high but rounded tannins. The Sangiovese was also lovely showcasing the dusty tannins and red cherry aromas associated with this varietal. Casa Abril wines have also won medals in the NM State competitions and their stock sells out annually, so if you find something you like buy it and store it at home.
The last lovely discovery was La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery, which is another family owned vineyard. We spoke with the warm matriarch of the family whose namesake is the vineyards name – Esperanza Gurule. What started as a retirement project has turned into a business venture that has won awards for their Tuscan rooted varietals. You can definitely feel the love that has been put into creating the wine and managing the vineyard. Our favorite red wine we sampled was the Montelpulciano ($19) that is a 100% varietal wine with notes of blackberry, black pepper, and violet. It is really enjoyable and well balanced. Our favorite white wine was the Malvasia (dry) because it offers something a little different than you typically find in American wine – it is medium bodied, filled with tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple with hints of oak from the vanilla. Their list of wines is available here.
If you are going to New Mexico and interested to learn about this budding industry, stop at one of these three tasting rooms. Hopefully, it will be a delightful discovery for you as it was for us.
Swirl, sip, sigh.
All Images are personal photographs.