For a change of pace, consider visiting one of Albuquerque’s fine wineries. Many people are surprised to learn that New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley is America’s oldest wine grape growing region, dating back to 1629. The sandy soil, clear warm days, and cool night create near perfect growing conditions. An entire afternoon can be spent wine tasting without ever leaving town.
Anderson Valley Vineyards is a few miles north of Old Town, on Rio Grande Boulevard. The vineyard’s founder Maxie Anderson helped pilot the first balloon to cross the Atlantic, the Double Eagle II, in 1978. A bit further north is Casa Rondena, a charming, gracious winery in the heart of Albuquerque’s North Valley.
Another unexpected surprise is that, according to wine critics, Albuquerque is home to the best sparkling-wine producer in the nation. The Gruet family, originally from the Champagne region of France, have been creating award-winning wines here at their Gruet Winery since they moved to New Mexico in 1984. Close to Gruet is the Jory Winery. Jory has been producing gold-medal winning wines in New Mexico since 1994, and was voted “Best New Mexico Winery” in 1999.
For a complete list of New Mexico wineries visit www.nmwine.net.
There are a few around the Albuquerque area and up towards Santa Fe, but I found this fact-filled one to be quite interesting and entertaining.
It was actually in Bernalillo which is just north of Albuquerque off of I-25 on your way to Santa Fe.
You pay a $10 entrance fee and receive an engraved glass to be used for the rest of the day, you'll find yourself protecting it like it was lil' john's gold covered chalice.
There were about 50 wineries represneted there coming in from all the way from Cali. They each have about 4 wines to sample and are very ready to sell bottles or crates dependant on your preference.
The day is filled with traditional Mexican music and dance to be accompanied with great food (even the giant turkey legs are available here).