New Mexico Wine and Travel

Photo by Gruet Estate
Nathalie Gruet, Sofian Himeur, Laurent Gruet, Christopher Henrich, and Laura Gruet
Nathalie Gruet, Sofian Himeur, Laurent Gruet, Christopher Henrich, and Laura Gruet

The organizational mission of the American Grand Cru Society®is to identify and recognize our best in class American vineyards for the benefit of the American wine consumer.  As one of the founders, I feel an obligation to carefully choose what areas on which to focus my writings.  With all the lower 48 states now participating in wine viticulture (wine grape growing) and oenology (wine making), trying to cover this vast amount of territory is an enormous task that may take years – if not decades.  It’s a grand endeavor, and I am most pleased to pursue it!

Gruet Estate (Photo by: Gruet Estate) Gruet Estate

For me, there are consistent key attributes to wine travel – for both business and pleasure.  There's a certain lifestyle around vineyards and wine that has a lot of appeal.  Great foods, pleasant climates, and the slower pace of its agricultural pursuit invite a sense of relaxation.  This is true of even Napa Valley – if you can stay off of the Silverado Trail!  “To know wine, is to travel to its origin,” is a key phrase that I have long espoused during my life’s wine journey.  And what a good phrase it is!  What makes wine so special IS the human interaction with nature, from vine to table - including all the very cool people you get to meet along the way.

Today, I’d like to bring to attention a very small wine producing state – New Mexico.  I had the pleasure of visiting New Mexico for the first time, and it truly lives up to its name – The Land of Enchantment.  Now, you are probably thinking that you have never seen, let alone tasted, a wine from New Mexico.  You might be surprised to learn you may have without even realizing it.  What I’m referring to is a very fine Methode Champenoise produced American Sparkling wine called GRUET

(Photo by: Gruet Estate)

Have you ever seen GRUET on a wine list, or in a wine shop?  Many DC - metro wine shops have found it, and love selling it because it is 1). A very well made sparkling wine; 2). It is quite affordable; and 3). Exactly because it IS from New Mexico - and the sheer novelty of that being case in point. 

The GRUET winery and tasting room is located just on the northern outskirts of Albuquerque, and the vineyards themselves are located 100 miles to the south.  It is usually my custom to visit the vineyard site, but time did not allow on this trip.  So, after my visit to the tasting room, I drove 30 minutes north towards Santa Fe for an amazing hike through the Tent Rock National Monument on the Cochiti Indian Reservation – an enchanting and amazing experience in itself.

Tent Rock National Mountain (Photo by: Georgoire Poirier) Tent Rock National Mountain

The top authority on New Mexico wines is Jim Hammond, author of “The Wines of New Mexico” now in its second edition.  I had the opportunity to speak with Jim and he was very gracious in helping with our research.  If ever traveling to the area, or if interesting in getting some excellent wines that not all your friends will know about, I suggest reading his book and contacting some New Mexico wineries to order their wines directly.  The price to quality value is there! 

The most important vineyard areas are clustered mostly around Deming, New Mexico with scattered others in and around other parts of the state. 

Tent Rock Natioanl Monument (Photo by: Gregoire Poirier) Tent Rock Natioanl Monument

In case you have the opportunity to taste or order these excellent wines, here is a short list of recommended New Mexico wine producers: 

Luna Rossa Winery, (Lordsburg Vineyard specifically if you can find them)

Southwest Winery

Milagro Vineyards and Winery

Vivac Winery

 

PS - If New Mexico and the beautiful Southwest are not on your current travel itinerary and you need a quick fix, remember to take a short drive out to Linden Vineyards off route 66 on the way toward Winchester, Virginia.  It is a very worthy local vineyard winery destination making wines from Virginia Grand Cru nominated vineyards!      

Tent Rock National Mounment (Photo by: Gregoire Poirier) Tent Rock National Mounment