Best Wineries in New Mexico to Visit: From Albuquerque to Santa Fe and Beyond: Complete Wine Tasting Travel Guide
We began our journey through New Mexico’s wine country discussing the diversity of grapes, environmental conditions and New Mexico’s long viticultural legacy. Now, we turn our focus to the state’s most esteemed wineries, each offering a unique narrative of terroir and tenacity. This guide extends beyond the vine, providing advice on navigating the diverse wine regions—from the arid expanses of the Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA to the historic vine-laden landscapes around Belen and the lofty vineyards of Ruidoso and Alamogordo.
In Albuquerque, a city that’s become synonymous with vibrant wine culture, we spotlight the pioneering families and innovative winemakers who have shaped this desert haven into a wine destination of national acclaim. As we head northward to Santa Fe, the narrative deepens, intertwining with the high-altitude vineyards and historic tasting rooms that mark the region’s wine chronicle.
Alongside these stories of viticultural success, we’ll offer practical travel insights, from selecting the perfect stay that complements your wine tour to choosing dining experiences that pair the region’s rich flavors with its equally compelling wines. Join us as we uncork the best wineries in New Mexico.
- Best Wineries in New Mexico to Visit: From Albuquerque to Santa Fe and Beyond: Complete Wine Tasting Travel Guide
- Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA
- Notable Wineries Near Albuquerque
- Albuquerque Tasting Rooms
- Accommodation Recommendations Near Albuquerque
- Restaurants for Winetravelers Near Albuquerque
- Beyond Wine: Top Things to Do Near Albuquerque
- Notable Wineries in the Region Around Belen
- Hotel Recommendations Near Belen
- Beyond Wine: Other Things to Do Near Belen
- Ruidoso and Alamogordo
- Northern Rio Grande (not an AVA…yet)
- Mesilla Valley AVA – Las Cruces and Scenic Hwy 28
- Mimbres Valley AVA
- Planning Your New Mexico Wine Tasting Experience: Tips and Recommendations
- Experience New Mexico's Wine Festivals
- New Mexico Cuisine
- Tips for New Mexican Food and Wine Pairings
- Plan Your New Mexico Wine Tasting Experience
Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA
The Middle Rio Grande Valley AVA is shown in pink on the map above. High desert from 4-6,500 feet in this warm desertic region lies along the Rio Grande River, mitigating warm and dry temperatures during the day and cool at night. Even so, sub-zero temps force northern vineyards to plant hybrid grapes that can handle the seasonal cold.
Notable Wineries Near Albuquerque
Albuquerque has such a vibrant wine culture that you’ll want to spend a few days here. Don’t miss the following wineries or vineyards during your stay.
Gruet Winery & Tasting Room
8400 Pan American Fwy NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States
The New Mexico legacy winemaker crafts sparkling wines in the méthode Champenoise. Gruet’s consistent quality and affordability have earned prominent rack space nationwide on Total Wine, Whole Foods Market, BevMo! and the ALDI supermarket chain shelves.
Founder Gilbert Gruet, his wife and children left France’s Champagne region with their family’s secrets for making the French bubbly in 1984 and purchased land to start farming the sandy New Mexican soil. Following this, their international notoriety brought attention from the Precept Wine, which eventually purchased the New Mexican winery in 2015. Gruet continues enhancing its awarded success—including golds at San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions—with innovative ideas from the French winemaker Cyril Tanazacq, who earned his stripes in the Champagne region.
Situated just off I-25 in Albuquerque, the tasting room is reminiscent of French chateaus, and you can tour the cellar where bottles are turned once per month as they are in the finest Champagne cellars.
Vara Winery & Distillery
315 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, United States
VARA Winery & Distillery, overlooking the city of Albuquerque, is where Spain, New Mexico, and California come together through wine and spirits. The Vara team crafts unique cuvées and hand-crafted artisan spirits by selecting the finest grapes from these regions.
Plan your visit around 5 p.m. when the hip tasting room morphs into a Spanish-style tapas restaurant.
“Look for the star or the crown on the label,” points out Jennie Thornton, Wine & Spirit Educator holding a stylishly designed bottle of Silverhead Brut Rosado. The star denotes grapes sourced from the US, while the crown identifies grapes from Spain. The bubbly took gold in the New York International Wine Competition in 2020.
“This is what Laurent Gruet is doing now while in retirement,” she smiles. As founder of Gruet Winery, Laurent was head winemaker there for over 30 years. He now makes wine at Vara.
Milagro Vineyards and The Farm Stand
985 W Ella Dr, Corrales, NM 87048, United States
You’ll find Milagro Vineyards in the Village of Corrales, 30 minutes north of Albuquerque, on a historic Spanish Land Grant. This romantic agricultural area sported vineyards, apple orchards and chiles, but no English speakers until the 1920s. The village retains its charm, with farms, shops, and the all-new Farm Stand, a store and coffee bar in the morning and a fun wine bar in the afternoon. Milagro owners Mitzi and Rick Hobson recently opened the place to showcase their wines and offer charcuterie and other local products.
“The winemaking methods we use could be commonly found in France. My interest is in having the grapes show up in the wine… we have an oak component. Still, the oak is not overly done,” says vintner Rick Hobson, who uses sustainable agricultural and production practices at the boutique winery.
“We barrel age all our wines,” says the chemical engineer turned discerning vintner. “We believe in what barrels do.” Preferring to keep alcohol levels lower, he goes on to explain, “I like wine, and the lower the alcohol, the more I can drink.”
Casa Rondeña Winery
733 Chavez Rd, Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, NM 87107, United States
“Wine is good for the heart,” smiles Josh Franco, assistant winemaker at Casa Rondeña Winery. That philosophy is reflected in the winery’s romantic Old World architecture and imaginatively sentimental landscaped grounds. It’s no wonder that locals gather here in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque for weddings and music events. You’ll rub elbows with horse jockeys, wine enthusiasts and other locals in the lovely tasting room.
Make sure to sample the Meritage Red, a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which has received eleven gold and double-gold medals. Or purchase a bottle of the 1629, named for North America’s first vinifera plantings.
303 Romero St NW Suite 110, Albuquerque, NM 87104, United States
Sheehan wines are made exclusively from New Mexico-grown grapes sourced from their vineyards in Corrales, Bosque Farms and the South Valley of Albuquerque and from 15 small growers throughout the state. “I like to buy the whole production,” says the winemaker who creates small batches that showcase each vineyard’s unique terroir. With 43 different wines in bottle, Sheehan Tasting Room in historic Old Town Albuquerque can offer tastes from all the New Mexico AVAs. “For instance, we have five different Merlots from grapes grown in five different vineyards,” says Sean, who has been in the winemaking business for 24 years. “My winemaking experience is old enough to vote,” he laughs.
Over those years, he’s experimented with scientific methods, settling on less processing. “I want the flavor of the harvest to carry through and end up in someone’s glass,” he says.
“I want to get better every year,” reports Sean. But that might be an elusive aspiration after bringing home five gold medals and 24 silver in the 2023 New Mexico State Fair’s premier Award State Fair.
Albuquerque Tasting Rooms
Stop into the Equinox Café & Bar at Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque for wine tastings in a highly-designed space with contemporary Native artwork. Noisy Waters Winery also has a fun tasting room in historic Old Town.
Accommodation Recommendations Near Albuquerque
You’ll find accommodations in every category, including rural AirBnbs, farm stays and high-end hotels. El Vado Motel is mid-priced, while Hotel Chaco, Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm and Hotel Parq Central are in the luxury category.
Hotel Parq Central combines historic charm with modern amenities, offering guests a tranquil oasis in the city’s heart. The rooftop bar provides stunning views and is a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploration. With its attentive staff, breakfast that showcases local ingredients and convenient location, this hotel is a must-visit for Winetravelers.
Restaurants for Winetravelers Near Albuquerque
Peruse a page of New Mexico wines in the 25-page Wine Spectator awarded wine list at Campo at Los Poblanos. Much of the farm-to-fork menu ingredients are grown at the on-site organic farm. Farm & Table is also located on a farm within the city limits of Albuquerque. The changing menu ensures you taste the best of each New Mexico growing season. Pair with international wines that include New Mexico wines.
Nosh on takeaway or dine-in cheeseboards or small plates at The Mouse Hole Cheese Shop in east downtown (Edo). You’ll find imported and local artisan cheeses and a wine list that includes Milagro Winery whites and reds alongside those from Spain and France.
D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro of Albuquerque pairs gourmet cuisine with their award-winning wines. Don’t forego dinner at VARA Winery & Distillery, where the flavors in their Spanish fare like papas bravas, paella and Kurobuta bone-in porkchop are enhanced by imported ingredients.
For breakfast, you can’t go wrong with The Grove Café & Market or Bike In Coffee for relaxed American provisions or Cecilia’s for traditional New Mexican fare.
Beyond Wine: Top Things to Do Near Albuquerque
Known as the “Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World,” Albuquerque offers champagne balloon flights. It’s only one of the many things to do in Albuquerque. We recommend booking a private sunrise hot air balloon flight with Elevated New Mexico, which includes snacks and a beverage to toast.
Notable Wineries in the Region Around Belen
Drive or take the Rio Metro Regional Transit District train 35 miles south from Albuquerque to Belen, close to where vines were first planted in New Mexico. Belen’s historic downtown is used for film sets such as Oppenheimer and The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here are some of the top wineries in and around Belen:
Chavez Brothers Vineyard and Winery
210 S Main St, Belen, NM 87002, United States
“We do everything by hand besides crushing and stemming,” discloses Fred Chavez. “Labeling, corking, capping, and, of course, picking the grapes are all done by hand.” The 35-38-year-old French hybrid vines are nine miles south in Socorro County. The family-owned and operated vineyard’s signature varietals are Chancellor and Vidal Blanc, and they add varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon each year.
Fred felt his calling to become a winemaker while walking the Camino de Santiago in Portugal. Somewhere along the way, Fred chanced to meet a local farmer sitting on the stone wall of his vineyard. After talking for a while, Don Pedro Roberto de Jesus produced a jug of wine and invited Fred to share it. “Sitting there, talking and sharing his wine, I had the epiphany: This is the life I desire. I want to make wine and share it with others over conversation,” reveals Fred. His dream became a reality in 2021 after retiring to Chavez Brothers Vineyard from a successful law practice.
Taste Chavez Brothers wine at their winery on Main Street in historic downtown Belen and enjoy conversation with Fred and his wife, Sue. Don’t overlook the 2021 Chancellor, that received a bronze from the Great American International Wine Competition.
Jaramillo Vineyards Wine Tasting Room
114 Becker Ave, Belen, NM 87002, United States
Sit back and order a flight at Jaramillo Vineyards Tasting Room in the airy, beautifully restored 1910 railroad hotel in historic Belen. Kick back because, with over 10,000 plants and 20 varieties in their vineyard, they’ve got over two dozen quality wines to try.
“We’re always doing something different,” laughs Barb Jaramillo, the wife of the winemaker who happens to be a commercial pilot, Robert Jaramillo.
Today, that something different is Bacchanalia, which they call “a party in a bottle.” Their cousin’s daughter named the Italian blend while studying viticulture at UC Davis.
Sample Fly Boy, a blend of five French grapes grown in the Middle Rio Grande AVA honoring WWII pilots who flew over France. It captured gold at the 2023 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition. Likewise, their Crimson Cabernet took a silver at the 2023 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, as did their Sauvignon Blanc/Fume.
Black’s Smuggler Winery
25 Winery Rd, Bosque, NM 87006, United States
“There are a lot of sweet wine drinkers in the state—part of that is the heat of the spicy New Mexican cuisine,” explains Tony Black, winemaker and owner of Black’s Smuggler Winery just off I-25, 10 miles south of Belen. He caters to both dry and sweet wine lovers.
“We’re in the 100-case range,” Tony reveals. “We’re small, rusty and dusty. That’s why we’re called smugglers.” The name also harkens back to 1629 when it is said a Franciscan priest smuggled grapevines into New Mexico to establish the first vineyard in what would become the United States.
Sip Black’s Smuggler Mission wine, a dry red low in tannins but rich in history! The grape is descended from the same grape varieties brought by early Spanish clergy. Don’t miss trying their Tempranillo, a Spanish grape that loves New Mexico soil. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is sold at Total Wine in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Hotel Recommendations Near Belen
Beyond Wine: Other Things to Do Near Belen
The Harvey Museum, Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area and Through the Flower Art Space, founded by feminist artist Judy Chicago, are all worth visiting.
If driving from Belen to Ruidoso, take Highway 47 to Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument for a backroads adventure. A self-guided walk through the Quarai Mission and Convento, established by Spanish Franciscans in 1626 at Quarai Pueblo, helps you imagine what life was like. In one of the excavated rooms, archeologists found a stone platform that they postulated could have functioned as the base of a horno/oven or wine press.
Ruidoso and Alamogordo
Ruidoso in the cool pines of the Sierra Blanca Mountains and Alamogordo below in the Tularosa Basin are in southcentral New Mexico. At 6,919 feet, Ruidoso, which means ‘noisy,’ gets its name from the Ruidoso River. The basin at 4330 feet, part of the Chihuahuan Desert, is irrigated for growing grapes, pecans and pistachios.
Notable Wineries Near Ruidoso and Alamogordo
The area around Ruidoso and Alamogordo boasts eight tasting rooms and wineries.
Here are the most notable wineries in the region:
Noisy Water Winery
2331 Sudderth Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345, United States
At 7,550’, Noisy Water Winery in Alto might be one of the highest places making wine in the US. However, they don’t grow their grapes at this elevation. Instead, they farm a bit further west near the Rio Grande. One of their vineyards, managed by the Gruet family almost thirty years ago, was acquired by Noisy Water in 2019. The 250-acre vineyard is south of Truth or Consequences, adjacent to one of Ted Turner’s conservation ranches and Richard Branson’s Spaceport America.
Noisy Water uses 100% New Mexico grapes to create over 60 wines and hard ciders at their Enchanted Vine facility north of Ruidoso.
Noisy Water produces 40,000 cases per year. This production volume means they use their own grapes and must also source New Mexico grapes from additional suppliers. “We’re the largest user of New Mexico fruit,” says fifth-generation farmer Jasper Riddle. “We are dedicated to supporting New Mexico agriculture by buying local fruit to ensure all [grape] farmers and all the fruit are taken care of.”
“We’re a hybrid,” explains Jasper, President of Noisy Water. “We farm organically, but we also use mechanization.” Noisy Water purchased a mechanical harvester during COVID-19 because of labor shortages. It was one of the last imported from France before the pandemic lockdown. A Monarch autonomous electric tractor will join the Noisy Water equipment roster soon.
“Cabernets coming out of New Mexico parallel the best cabs in the world,” the winemaker says. His 2020 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon earned 92 points from James Suckling and silver at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Enjoy sipping outdoors under shady Pines or indoors in the relaxed Enchanted Vine tasting room. Book tours and private tastings online, or explore the high-altitude ranch to view rescued farm animals. Besides the Enchanted Vine, Noisy Waters has tasting rooms in Albuquerque, Cloudcroft, Red River and Ruidoso. You’ll find menus that showcase the different varietals cultivated in New Mexico.
Sentinel Ranch Winery & Tasting Room
105 la Rinconada, San Patricio, NM 88348, United States
Located 20 miles south of Ruidoso, Sentinel Ranch Winery & Tasting Room is tucked away in lush pasturelands where you can enjoy the sound of birds on the outdoor patio or art in the loft-style indoor space or sunroom.
The winery is adjacent to Hurd Gallery, owned by artist Michael Hurd. Michael’s parents, renowned painters Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth Hurd, sister of Andrew Wyeth, one of the best-known artists of the 20th century, lived here on the ranch starting in the 1930s. Today, enjoy wine and gourmet charcuterie boards. You can even book a stay in one of the ranchero’s historic guest homes. See accommodations below.
The Cork & Kettle
2801 Sudderth Dr B, Ruidoso, NM 88345, United States
For a cabin-in-the-woods experience, visit The Cork & Kettle in Ruidoso, one of the Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wines locations. Taste wines by the glass or bottle in a cozy setting, shop for specialty foods and fill your picnic basket. The wine, coffee and tea shop features New Mexico products, including Los Poblanos lavender, Red Rock Coffee and Heart of the Desert Pistachios and wines. There’s even a humidor for cigar aficionados. See more about Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wines below.
Heart of the Desert and Eagle Farm
7288 US-54, Alamogordo, NM 88310, United States
Eagle Farm vineyard of 24,000 vines at the base of the Sierra Blanca Mountains produces award-winning wines that you can taste in the Heart of the Desert wine room in Alamogordo. Sample their signature Pistachio Rosé or the popular Viva La Roja, the winner of a silver medal in the 2009 New Mexico State Fair Wine Competition.
The farm is home to New Mexico’s first and largest producing pistachio groves that you can tour from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Check the website for times.
Arena Blanca Winery at Pistachioland
7320 US-54, Alamogordo, NM 88310, United States
Experience the vineyards and pistachio orchards of McGinn’s PistachioLand on an open-air motorized shuttle tour that rolls several times daily. In addition to farm excursions, PistachioLand in Alamogordo showcases a diverse selection of New Mexico gourmet products, free wine sampling, and a wide array of souvenirs and gifts.
“We want to be the be-all, end-all of pistachios,” declares Tim McGinn. True to this vision, the Arena Blanca Winery produces pistachio wine, and the PistachioLand ice cream shop delights customers with pistachio-flavored ice cream and unique tastes like Hatch green chile apple pie.
Try a free tasting of Pistachio Delight Wine, their best seller made from white zinfandel infused with natural pistachio extract. Zinfandel is one of the five varieties of the 6,000 vines in the 12-acre vineyard.
Tim McGinn commissioned the construction of a 30-foot pistachio monument in honor of his father, Tom, who began cultivating pistachios in this region in the late 1970s. Tim warmly recalls when his father, a New Jersey businessperson who worked for big-name packaged food companies, would take the family on western road trips to visit similar roadside wonders before settling on the Alamogordo farm.
Don’t miss this landmark selfie site that honors Tom McGinn, the founder of PistachioLand and the green-stone nut.
Hotel Recommendations Near Ruidoso and Alamogordo
For a serene escape, reserve a stay at one of the timeless residences at Historic Sentinel Ranch next to Sentinel Ranch Winery and Hurd Gallery (see wineries above). The scenic estate, adorned with fountains, gates and interiors showcasing global architectural details, promises an unparalleled experience. Located 20 miles south of Ruidoso in Billy the Kid Country.
Restaurant Recommendations for Wine Lovers Near Ruidoso or Alamogordo
D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro in Alamogordo features gourmet food paired with award-winning New Mexico wines. Flying J Ranch in Alto presents chuckwagon dinners with sides of gunfight shows, pony rides and more.
Beyond Wine: Other Things to Do Near Alamogordo and Ruidoso
Why not try sledding on the world’s largest gypsum dune field at White Sands National Park between Alamogordo and Las Cruces? Or trace the escapades of Billy the Kid through Lincoln County, known as Billy the Kid Country.
You’d be nuts to miss the fascinating farm tour and the world’s largest pistachio at Pistachioland in Alamogordo.
Northern Rio Grande (not an AVA…yet)
As you drive north from Santa Fe, you’ll see a dramatic shift in terrain. The ribbon of highway follows the Rio Grande up in elevation, connecting small pockets of traditional Hispanic agricultural communities wedged against the river by dry cliffs and mesas.
Notable Wineries Near Santa Fe
Almost half a dozen vineyards are strung along the highway between Santa Fe and Taos. Here are two not to be missed:
El Alamo Winery
127 Co Rd 41, Alcalde, NM 87511, United States
Located in Alcalde, an isolated tract of time-honored farmland and Hispanic culture, the boutique winery is named for the centuries-old cottonwood tree on their land.
Winemaker Joseph Martinez, a retired engineer from nearby Los Alamos National Lab, is the third generation to live on this farm 40 miles north of Santa Fe irrigated by a historic acequia.
Spanish settlers brought the communal irrigation practice of acequia—first developed in the Middle East—to the New World. Next to the ancient aqueduct, the winery is guided by Joseph’s science-based approach to winemaking. El Alamo has produced acclaimed wines you won’t want to miss.
Taste the Baco Noir Port, which took Best of Class in the 2023 New Mexico State Fair or Petit Verdot or Primavera Dry, both awarded Silver in the same competition. Don’t miss the Estate Riesling, grown at an altitude of 5700 feet.
2075 NM-68, Dixon, NM 87527, United States
The Vivác [meaning high-altitude refuge] vineyards are somewhat protected from cold by the towering bluffs, which suck up the heat all day long. When temps dip below freezing for multiple days, vine tenders light fires to protect the vineyards. The unique microclimate at 6,000 feet above sea level is also enhanced by the Rio Grande Gorge, which pulls cool air down from the mountains around Taos during hot periods.
Although you can enjoy flights of Vivác wines indoors or out, the flagstone patio is highly recommended as it is one of the prettiest wine locations in the state. Sit among flowers and peach trees with enchanting New Mexico puffy clouds dancing in the azure skies overhead. Or better yet, schedule a winery tour, including a barrel tasting and a pre-selected five-wine tasting at the tasting room in Dixon just south of Taos.
Don’t miss the Rosé of Sangiovese, awarded double gold at the American Fine Wine THE Rose Competition in Fort Lauderdale and Silver from VinAgora International Wine Competition in Hungary. Be sure to taste the Abbott Syrah, rated 91 points by Wine Spectator.
Co-owner Michele Padberg, a native Taoseña, is an international wine judge. She recently brought Joseph Martinez’s El Alamo 2019 Riesling to Strasbourg, France, to the acclaim of dignitaries, wine professors and French media. The story proves that not only are New Mexican wines world-class but also that winemaking neighbors really help neighbors. It’s a story you’ll hear throughout your New Mexico wine journey.
Best Santa Fe Wine Tasting Rooms
Treat yourself to a wine-paired caviar flight at Gruet Winery Santa Fe Tasting Room in the Hotel St Francis. Or relax at the distinctively-styled Hervé Wine Bar for tastings, small plates or sandwiches.
Hotel Recommendations Near Santa Fe
Santa Fe’s centuries-long legacy as a hospitality capital means plenty of world-class accommodations. Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi and The Inn of Five Graces are standouts in the luxury category. From a historical perspective, there’s no upstaging La Fonda on the Plaza or Inn of the Turquoise Bear.
Las Palomas blends rustic comfort and authentic Southwestern charm, making it an inviting retreat amidst the city’s historic streets. Its hot, authentic Santa Fe breakfasts and cozy accommodations, adorned with local artistry and traditional décor, afford you a serene and comfortable stay.
Top Restaurants for Wine Lovers in Santa Fe
Go to Sazón for elevated Latin American cuisine, but stay for the ambiance and art. You might see James Beard award-winning Chef Fernando Olea Chef poke his head (donned in a black cowboy hat) around the corner. David Sellars at Horno Restaurant says he does fine food but not fine dining. “I have honed the art of making great food that is not killer expensive.” Expect a line at Café Pasqual’s—named for the folk saint of New Mexican kitchens and cooks, San Pasqual. However, you may get in faster by requesting a spot at the communal table. The New York Times called the café “a national landmark for breakfast lovers.”
Beyond Wine: Top Tours and Things to Do Near Santa Fe
Santa Fe and the area north along the Rio Grande offers a generous diversity of attractions and activities.
Explore Preserved Ranchero, a National Register of Historic Places Site
Experience a magnificent territorial-style hacienda and farmyard where Hispanic, Indigenous and Anglo-American cultures have come together over the centuries at Los Luceros Historic Site in Alcade.
Rafting Plus Wine Tasting
Pair adventure with culture when you book a Rio Grande Gorge whitewater and wine-tasting trip with New Mexico River Adventures.
Discover the Oldest Standing Church in the US
Santa Fe’s San Miguel Chapel is the oldest standing church in the US. Learn more about Santa Fe and the church founded in 1610 by booking a walking tour.
Tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera is an unparalleled experience. People show up in full-length cocktail gowns or blue jeans and a bolo to picnic in the parking lot. Inside, the spectacular sliding back wall creates an open-air theater that brings oohs and ahhs to the show.
Museum Hill and Canyon Road
Santa Fe has more museums and art galleries than you can shake a stick at. Over 100 galleries, studios, boutiques and restaurants are on a half-mile stretch of Canyon Road alone. Museum Hill is checkered with four world-class museums—five if you count the botanical gardens. Then there’s the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Meow Wolf, besides almost 20 others. See the complete list at Santa Fe Tourism.
Mesilla Valley AVA – Las Cruces and Scenic Hwy 28
Here, fields of chiles and pecan orchards flourish—local Stahmanns Farm was once the largest pecan grower in the world—and now, vineyards take the place of cotton that once dominated the land. Farmers seeking more sustainable crops plant grapes that use less water and needn’t be replanted annually.
Cooling winds funneling through the valley help maintain acidity levels in the grapes grown in this hot and dry climate.
Notable Wineries in the Mesilla Valley AVA
You could quickly fill an entire weekend with wine-tasting adventures in and around Las Cruces, which boasts nine local wineries and tasting rooms. Don’t miss out on the following four must-visit spots!
402 S Melendres St, Las Cruces, NM 88005, United States
“Notice both vineyards are on a slope?” asks vintner Bernd Maier. “That’s not by accident.” The former New Mexico State University Extension Viticulturist explains that he planted his vines above the valley floor where the wind cools the berry surface in summer and helps protect against early frosts. “New Mexico’s environmental conditions are some of the most difficult,” explains the viticulturalist who moved from Germany in 1986 to manage New Mexico vineyards. “I remember one late freeze on April 27 that killed the young pecan trees, then we picked cherries in 97°F heat the next day.”
Maier and his son manage 70 acres of vineyards, including 20 of their own. “We work with Vara Winery, growing a lot of white for their sparkling wines,” he says. Bernd created Angelica, which was very popular in the 1880s but rare in New Mexico now. The fortified wine was traditionally barrel-aged in the sun.
Sample the Mesilla Valley terroir in the signature Cruces Sunrise, a rose or Cruces Sunshine, a red blend, at the Amaro Winery tasting room in downtown Las Cruces.
La Viña Winery
4201 NM-28, Anthony, NM 88021, United States
La Viña Winery, New Mexico’s oldest winery, hosts six festivals or significant events each year. Park in the pecan orchard for the state’s longest-running wine festival. The landscaped grounds and impressive winery building is built to accommodate 5K people per day. Owners Ken and Denise Stark, Luz Bustamante
From 44 acres, they grow 130 tons of grapes and cork 100K bottles. “It’s a big job in the vineyard and a big job in the winery,” says owner Ken Stark. So in 2007, he and co-owner and wife Denise hired Chilean winemaker Guillermo Contador. “Guillermo worked in South Africa, Chile, California and Argentina—he had lots of experience for a young guy,” says Ken.
“I can do more here than in other places,” responds Guillermo when asked what kept him in New Mexico for over 15 years. “In Napa, I’d be working with one variety. In Chile, it’s the same way. But here, I work with 25 varieties, and I’m learning a lot about wine because of that.”
Taste the Rosé from Rhone grape varieties or La Dolce Viña, a Sparkling Muscat with citrus and floral notes, their best seller! Adventurous tasters will want to sample Caliente, a fruity red wine infused with New Mexico red chile.
“So many of the people we see in the New Mexico wine industry are driven to make wine in this area better,” says Ken
Rio Grande Vineyards & Winery
5321 NM-28, Las Cruces, NM 88005, United States
Drive through tree tunnels on scenic Highway 28 (the Juan de Oñate Trail) to Rio Grande Vineyards & Winery. You’ll love the renovated and expanded tasting room with modern, New Mexico chic décor. Catch views of the Organ Mountains on their back patio—complete with cooling misters, laid-back food trucks and local music.
“In the white wines, you’ll get a touch of saltiness from the alkali soil. Reds have a dusty character, which is like the desert of the Southwest coming through in these wines,” says Richard McDonald, partner and winemaker at Rio Grande Winery. Richard brings Old-World techniques with contemporary style and was awarded New Mexico Wine Maker of the Year in 2023.
“This region is known as a wine destination and a spot to retire,” notes owner/farmer Jay Hill. “As people migrate from California, they bring their tastes with them—we aim to match that with the wines we produce here.”
Sip Mission that pays homage to the winery’s location on the Juan de Oñate Trail and the award-winning Spaniard, an estate blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo from Riedel wine glasses.
Sombra Antigua Vineyard and Winery
430 La Vina Rd, Anthony, NM 88021, United States
Located just off historic New Mexico State Road 28, a scenic drive under a shady canopy of pecan orchards, the Sombra winery attracts day trippers from El Paso and Las Cruces alike. After driving through the tree tunnel, park alongside motorcycles, bicycles and classic cars whose drivers come for live music in a lush outdoor space and a taste of the Day of the Dead Red, Sombra’s number one seller.
“We’re a winery, but we’re also a full bar,” says owner David Fisher. “We take a low-brow approach to wine.” Their wine slushies are a big hit in summer months. Charcuterie plates, cheese balls and other finger food made with local pecans and chiles are popular throughout the year.
“We’re one of the first wineries in the area to make a commitment to music,” adds Dave, who recommends you check their weekly entertainment calendar.
Lescombes offers a VIP vineyard and winery tour from their restaurant in Las Cruces to their Deming winery and back. A Mimosa meet and greet, transportation in a Mercedes Sprinter van and lunch at New Mexico’s largest winery are part of the exclusive package!
Accommodation Recommendations Near Mesilla Valley AVA
Hacienda de Mesilla is a perfect hub for exploring Old Mesilla Plaza and walking to Luna Rosa Winery & Pizzeria and Lescombes Winery & Bistro (see restaurants below), making it an ideal choice for wine travelers seeking comfort and culture. Find other great accommodations nearby on Tripadvisor.com.
Top Restaurants for Wine Lovers in the Mesilla Valley
Dedicated to authentic Italian cuisine, Luna Rosa Winery & Pizzeria uses the finest Italian ingredients, including San Marzano tomatoes, Trifoglio extra virgin olive oil, prosciutto crudo di San Daniele and prosciutto cotto di Parma. Their homemade mozzarella is prepared daily.
Billy Crews Fine Dining, named by Texas Monthly as one of the Top 10 Best Places to Have a Steak and recipient of the coveted Wine Spectator Grand Award, is only 10 miles south of La Viña Winery on Highway 28.
Order the signature nosh to share or international entrees like Asian shrimp pasta, schnitzel or Southwest meatloaf at D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro in Las Cruces.
Owned and operated by the same family for over 100 years, Chope’s Town Bar & Café is a classic Highway 28 hot spot for lunch or dinner.
Beyond Wine: Other Top Things to Do in the Mesilla Valley
Wander Old Mesilla Plaza for its shops and adobe buildings, one of which housed the courthouse where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang.
Hatch, known as the “Green Chile Capital of the World,” is 40 miles north of Las Cruces on I-25.
Mimbres Valley AVA
The largest AVA in New Mexico follows the 91-mile-long Mimbres River, where soils are deep, silty, clay-loam and quite porous for good drainage.
Notable Wineries & Vineyards in the Mimbres Valley AVA (Deming)
Two of the most prominent New Mexico wineries are located in Deming.
D.H. Lescombes Winery & Tasting Room
7075 NM-549, Deming, NM 88030, United States
“All the wineries in the state are great,” compliments Brandon Young, CEO of D.H. Lescombes Winery, the largest winery in the state. “The north is very cold, like Colorado, which is way different than what we experience down here,” he says as it hits triple digits outside the climate-controlled facility.
The winemaking complex is surrounded by 200 planted acres boasting some of the longest-tenured vines in the state—planted in 1981. Yet the company’s evolution doesn’t stop there—20 acres were planted in 2023.
“We’re in expansion mode,” Brandon reports. “We’ve increased the footprint [of the operations facility] by 40% in the last year.” Within that period, they’ve integrated space for an increased capacity bottling machine, 20-ton presses, four insulated 30K-gallon tanks and an innovative crossflow filtration system that enhances the wine’s taste and mouthfeel.
Lescombes expands to meet the consumer demand for their wine, including their ready-mixed, harmoniously blended Soleil Mimosa found at Alde’s, H-E-B, Costco, Whole Foods, Albertsons and Kroger.
“Our mimosas are better than you can make at home,” asserts Brandon. “That’s because of how the fresh fruit is incorporated into the sparkling wine and then flash pasteurized.” Their mimosa range includes flavors like orange, cranberry lime, strawberry, mango, pineapple, and pomegranate, all sourced from pure, non-concentrated fruit.
Visit the Deming tasting room to savor mimosas and explore over 40 wines from various labels, encompassing D.H. Lescombes, Soleil Mimosas and St. Clair.
Don’t miss out on the 631 series from the D.H. Lescombes label, a tribute to the rich heritage of Lescombes. It signifies six generations of winemakers, three continents—Europe, Africa, and North America—and one unyielding passion: crafting diverse, high-quality wines to share with loved ones.
Luna Rosa Winery
3710 W Pine St, Deming, NM 88030, United States
In 1986, a young Italian viticulturist packed his vine-grafting know-how with a few personal belongings and kissed his mother goodbye, invariably saying something like, Don’t worry, mamma, I’ll be back in 45 days. That was almost 40 years ago.
Paolo D’Andrea, the youngest son and fourth generation of a wine-growing family in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy, studied viticulture with an emphasis on vine grafting. That expertise got him a 45-day contract and a ticket to New Mexico, where he would teach laborers the finer points of pruning vines. He saw the opportunities in New Mexico and so stayed. Since then, he founded Luna Rosa Winery while managing 300 acres for Swiss-owned New Mexico Vineyards, Inc.
“I have accomplished here what it would have been very hard to do in Italy,” said Paolo in a New Mexico PBS interview. “I think this is still the country where if you are a hardworking person, you can turn your dreams into reality.”
In 2001, Paolo and his wife Sylvia did just that by opening their own 30-acre vineyard and winery, where they grow 56 varietals. Sample their impressive wines at the Luna Rosa Winery in Deming or their tasting room and pizzeria in Las Cruces, where they use Italian food products to create their pizzas and gelatos. Grab a pour of NINI, a dry red and Negro Amaro. On the white side, check out the Areis and Viognier, all made with 100% New Mexico grapes.
Accommodation Recommendations in the Mimbres Valley AVA
Find accommodations in Deming at Tripadvisor.com. But if you’re continuing north to Silver City (see more about that in the section below), stay at Bear Creek Motel & Cabins in Pinos Altos outside of town.
Beyond Wine: Other Things to Do Near Mimbres Valley
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Western New Mexico University Museum in Silver City. An hour north of Deming, the museum’s collections include the largest and most complete collection of materials from a single pre-contact Mimbres site. The Mimbres AVA takes its name from the Mimbres River and the ancient Mimbres culture, known for its expressive black-on-white pottery. If you take the drive, New Mexico winery outlier La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery are nearby.
During nighttime, don’t forget to look up. New Mexico is the only state with night light legislation. They enacted the Night Sky Protection Act in 1999.
Having discovered the wine regions and their distinctive characteristics, you can now turn your attention to planning a trip to these unique destinations.
Planning Your New Mexico Wine Tasting Experience: Tips and Recommendations
The best time of the year to visit New Mexico wineries is in the springtime or fall. Enjoy mild temperatures during the excitement of spring in pictorial agricultural areas. Or come during harvest time for the tastes and smells of the countryside’s yield.
If you are a skier or snowboarder, come during the wintertime for snow play at resorts in Santa Fe, Taos or Ruidoso.
How to Get There: Transportation Options
New Mexico is located in the US Southwest. As one of the “Four Corners States,” it borders Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.
Fly to New Mexico Wineries
You can access New Mexico wine country by flying into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) airport, El Paso International Airport (ELP) or Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF.)
Advanced Air, Alaska, American, Boutique Air, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit or United Train serve ABQ. While Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United fly in and out of ELP for easy drives to Las Cruces and Deming.
SAF offers direct flights to and from Dallas, Denver and Phoenix. You can compare flight prices into ABQ, ELP or SAF with Kayak.
Drive to New Mexico
For road trippers, wineries in New Mexico can be found off I-40, I-25, I-10 and historic Route 66.
Ride the Rails to New Mexico Wine Country
You can ride Amtrak to Albuquerque or Deming. The Southwest Chief that runs between Chicago and Los Angeles stops in Albuquerque. From Albuquerque, you can ride the Rio Metro Regional Transit District to Sante Fe or Belen.
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, operating from Los Angeles to New Orleans, stops in Deming and El Paso, TX.
Now that you know when and how to visit, let’s discuss the best ways to explore and enjoy New Mexico’s wine regions.
Experience New Mexico’s Wine Festivals
New Mexicans love to celebrate their food and wine. And they invite you to make yourself part of the family at one of the following festivals.
- Las Cruces Wine Festival, Las Cruces—Memorial Day Weekend
- New Mexico Wine Festival, Albuquerque—Memorial Day Weekend
- La Viña 4th of July Festival
- Santa Fe Wine Festival—July
- Albuquerque Harvest Wine Festival–Labor Day
- Las Cruces Harvest Wine Festival–Labor Day
- La Viña Harvest Festival—end of September
- Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta–end of September
Here’s your up-to-the-moment calendar of New Mexico food and wine events.
Wine is more than just a beverage; it’s a culinary component, too. Next, we’ll explore the interplay of local cuisine and New Mexico wines.
New Mexico Cuisine
If you’ve eaten in New Mexican restaurants, you know that your server will ask, “Red or green?” That refers to the option of red or green chile sauce when ordering New Mexican food. In New Mexico, the word ‘chile’ refers to the raw pepper or the sauce made of chile peppers.
Then you’ve probably heard the local’s response to the question: “Christmas – the more, the merrier!” If you want to order like a local, then ask for your burritos smothered in red and green chile—Christmas style.
“Chile is featured in every meal, from breakfast through dinner,” say the foodies at the New Mexico Tourism Department. It’s used as a vegetable (although it is actually a fruit) and a spice. New Mexico grows more chiles than any other state, making chile its No. 1 cash crop.
Tips for New Mexican Food and Wine Pairings
We asked the experts for tips for pairing wine with New Mexican food. Here’s what New Mexican winemakers have to say:
Sean Sheehan, owner and winemaker at Sheehan Winery, recommends pairing off-dry reds like his Slainte, a Cabernet/Zinfandel blend, with New Mexico red chile dishes like carne asada. “A little bit of sweet compliments the spicy,” he says.
Joseph Martinez, founder of El Alamo Winery in Alcade, doesn’t miss a beat when asked about his favorite wine and New Mexican food pairing. “Riesling with pico de gallo and quesadilla,” he answers. “And Rosé with anything with green chile. The acidity of the wine cuts down the spiciness.”
“Cruces Sunshine Red Table Wine of the Mesilla Valley AVA pairs well with spicy New Mexican cuisine,” says its maker, Bernd Maier of Amaro Winery in Las Cruces.
“I pair oysters on the half shell with our Corrales White because of the wine’s minerality, but it also pairs very well with chile dishes,” suggests Rick Hobson of Milagro Vineyards in Corrales.
“Try our Cab Franc with glazed duck during the cooler months,” recommends Josh Franco of Casa Rondeña Winery outside Albuquerque.
“The Mission grape pairs perfectly with flautas, smothered beef burritos and menudo,” says Rachael Bissell, tasting room expert at Rio Grande Vineyards & Winery.
“Our dry Capulin (chokecherry) wine is fantastic with roast lamb,” Sam Aragon of Las Nueve Ninas Winery offers.
Plan Your New Mexico Wine Tasting Experience
Strategically grouped into six key regions across the state, New Mexico’s wineries offer a compelling draw for wine aficionados. Each area boasts its own distinct soil and climate conditions, giving vintners the chance to produce a wide array of wines. These New Mexico wines not only reflect the state’s rich history and culture but also cater to the diverse tastes of today’s wine lovers.
It’s time to wrap up the exploration, but remember: the experience of visiting New Mexico wine regions is even more captivating in person. Why not plan a trip and taste the allure for yourself?
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