New Mexico’s Highway Wineries

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NEW MEXICO’S HIGHWAY WINERIES: A CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIPPER’S GUIDE
Story and photos by Stacey Wittig

 

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Stacey Wittig shares the fascinating backstories of the New Mexico wineries featured in her article below. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

 


The vast landscapes of New Mexico, from its sprawling deserts to its mystical mountain ranges, make the state an enchanting destination for road-trippers. This allure is only enhanced by the state’s burgeoning wine scene, which embraces modern innovations while paying homage to centuries-old Spanish viticulture. Indeed, Spanish Franciscans planted vinifera vines here in 1629, 200 years before Napa Valley.

As you make your way across the Land of Enchantment via I-25, I-40, and I-10, take a moment to pull off the highway and explore these unique wineries, each with its distinct character and flavor.

I-25: From Albuquerque to Las Cruces

  1. 1. Gruet Winery, Albuquerque: Renowned for its sparkling wines, Gruet is a must-visit along I-25. The winery, founded by the Gruet family from Champagne, France, brings traditional French sparkling wine techniques to New Mexico. A taste of their Blanc de Noirs or Sauvage will instantly reveal why they’ve earned international acclaim.

 

  1. Casa Rondeña Winery, Albuquerque: This gem is a tad north of Albuquerque, and a detour off I-25 will lead you to a wonderfully beautiful estate. The ambiance is old-world Spanish, with hints of New Mexican flare. The Reflections Reserve Red and 1629—a wine named after the year wine grapes were first planted in the state—are must-tries.

 

  1. Jaramillo Vineyards, Belen: This boutique winery, just off I-40, offers an intimate wine-tasting experience. Celebrated for its awarded New Mexican varietals, Jaramillo provides an unfiltered peek into the heart of local viticulture.

 

  1. Chavez Brothers Winery, Belen: A testament to family collaboration and innovation, Chavez Brothers Winery seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary flair. Their French hybrids, Chancellor and Vidal Blan, epitomize their winemaking passion, a must-visit for those seeking authenticity.

 

  1. Black’s Smuggler Winery, Bosque: Stray a bit south on I-25, and you’ll encounter this family-owned winery producing wines since the 1980s. With its tantalizing array of reds and whites, there’s something for every palate.

 

  1. Amaro Winery, Las Cruces: A family-owned treasure, Amaro Winery brings forth passion and dedication in every bottle. Their tasting room emanates warmth, making it a welcoming spot to discover the robust flavors of their Cabernet Sauvignon and delicately aromatic Viognier.

 

  • Ambience at-Casa Rondeña Winery near Albuquerque
    Ambience at-Casa Rondeña Winery near Albuquerque


I-40: From Gallup to Albuquerque

  1. Guadalupe Vineyards, San Fidel: In the early 1900s, a small vineyard was planted here, and three original vines continue to produce fruit each year. These precious vines, part of the 2K vine vineyard, serve as the winemakers’ inspiration to continue the grape-growing traditions of New Mexico Franciscans, which began almost 400 years ago.

 

  1. Sheehan Winery, Albuquerque: A quick detour to Old Town will give you a taste of historic Spanish Albuquerque and samples of award-winning wines created to bring out the essence of the New Mexico terroir.


I-10: From Lordsburg to Las Cruces

  1. Luna Rossa Winery, Deming: This is an essential stop for anyone traveling the southern stretch of New Mexico. Just off Exit 81 on I-10, Luna Rossa, meaning “Red Moon,” is known for its Italian vintner’s meticulous grape-growing and winemaking process. Sip on their award-winning Negro Amaro or Reserve Nebbiolo as you take in the views of the sprawling vineyards.

 

  1. Lescombes Winery, Deming: Not far from Luna Rossa, Lescombes offers a fusion of old-world charm and New Mexican vibrancy. They’re celebrated for their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and rich blends, making them a staple on the New Mexico wine scene.

 

  1. La Viña Winery, La Union: Positioned at the southernmost tip of New Mexico, this is the state’s oldest winery. It offers an impressive selection of traditional wines created by US and Chilean winemakers. They host an annual wine festival that’s worth planning around.

 

  1. Rio Grande Winery, Las Cruces: In the heartland of the Mesilla Valley, Rio Grande Winery characterizes the region’s rich viticulture. The winery’s newly remodeled tasting room offers a harmonious blend of traditional and innovative wines. Visitors are charmed by the serene ambiance, passionate storytelling, and the delectable flavors of their handcrafted vintages.

Before you embark on your New Mexican wine adventure, remember that many of these wineries may require prior reservations for tastings or tours.


Drive Responsibly

Always have a designated driver when exploring wine routes, or better yet, consider staying overnight at nearby accommodations to fully enjoy the experience. This allows you to dive deeper into the local scene, savor the wines, and wake up rejuvenated, ready to continue your cross-country adventure.

New Mexico’s highways not only guide you through the state’s scenic beauty but also lead you to liquid treasures, each telling a story of the region’s rich history, cultural influences, and unwavering commitment to the art of winemaking. So, next time you find yourself cruising along the interstates of the Land of Enchantment, let your journey be punctuated with glasses raised high, toasting New Mexico’s flavors.

 

Stacey Wittig writes about food, wine, and travel for Winetraveler.com, UnstoppableStaceyTravel.com, and Forbes, among others.
Read more at https://unstoppablestaceytravel.com

 

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