Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Different State of Wine

         Who knew?  New Mexico is the land of enchantment in many ways, one of them being that it has a thriving wine industry.  With over 42 wineries and with a history of the first vines having been planted nearly 400 years ago, New Mexico is a fun place to taste some fine wines.
Although our main purpose for being in New Mexico was a Peace Corps reunion, with a winery just down the road from our little casita, we knew we had to pay a neighborly visit. The small family run winery called Estrella Del Norte Vineyard is in Nambe, about 20 minutes north of Santa Fe, on the High Road to Taos.  The estate was lovely, with quaint buildings and sculptures, a charming tasting room with its “Group Therapy Practiced Here” welcome sign and an arbor-covered picnic area in the vineyard.  The day we visited, a group was happily tasting wine and eating lunch served by the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
One of my favorite wines was an estate Pinot Noir which was a Gold Medal winner at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and I could see why.  It was good—light, smooth and earthy. 
Another favorite was their Founding Fathers wine which was a nice blend of New Mexico grown Cabernet Franc and the estate Cabernet grapes that the current owners discovered on the property when they arrived 15 years ago. 
Two whites also were very interesting.  They were from the Sante Fe Vineyards, which the owner of Estrella manages.  One was a Malvasia Blanca with a nice spicy aroma; the other was a wine made especially for the Santa Fe Indian Market held each year in August.  Our server warned us that the whites might be a little sweeter than we were used to since many New Mexican wine drinkers prefer that sweetness which provides a nice complement to spicy foods. 
If you find yourselves in New Mexico for a summer opera, or a tour through Georgia O’Keeffe country, or a visit to the Indian Market, I think you’d enjoy the Estrella Del Norte Vineyard.  And if you happen to be there for their Harvest Festival where they actually invite folks to come and stomp grapes alla I Love Lucy, I’ll be envious.  But if you just want to enjoy some New Mexico wine on your own home front, check out the website for a complete listing of their available enchanting wines.

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