Part two of this week’s “Cogill Wine & Film, A Perfect Pairing” Podcast on reVolver Podcasts we shared a little bit about the wine and films of New Mexico, having just returned from teaching the topic as a part of the SMU in Taos Cultural Institute. It is surprising how many films have been made through the years in New Mexico, around Santa Fe and Taos in particular, as the incentives to make a film have always been favorable in the state. From “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” to “Easy Rider,” to more recent favorites like “Terminator: Salvation” and “Hell or High Water” last year, the New Mexico Film Commission has done well with getting films made in the state.
From “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” to “Easy Rider,” to more recent favorites like “Terminator Salvation” and “Hell or High Water” last year, the New Mexico Film Commission has done well with getting films made in the state.
The history of wine in New Mexico also dates back quite a bit, all the way to the 1500s. A few more thoughts on the wines of New Mexico below. To listen to the show follow the link here, and click “Episode 57.” Or listen through iTunes, Spotify, IHeartRadio or Google Play.
Overview of wine in New Mexico – The oldest wine growing region in America. Looked like Spain, felt like Spain, terroir of Spain.
In 1629, Franciscan friar García de Zúñiga and a Capuchín monk named Antonio de Arteaga planted the first wine grapes in the Río Grande valley of southern New Mexico, from, as the story goes, vines smuggled into New Mexico from Spain. Viticulture thrived, and by the year 1880, grapes were grown on over 3,000 acres and wineries produced over 1,000,000 US gallons of wine.
However, the wine industry in New Mexico declined in the late 1800’s part due to flooding of the Río Grande. This was followed by Prohibition, which forced many wineries to close, while others remained operational providing sacramental wine to primarily Catholic as well as other Christian churches. The modern New Mexico wine industry received significant support in 1978 when a government-sponsored study encouraged winegrowers to plant French hybrid grape varieties.
Today, New Mexico is growing, with 60+ wineries producing 900,000 US gallons of wine annually with vineyards planted covering 1200 acres, mainly in high elevations. These elevations are what makes New Mexico ideal for growing winegrapes. (Elevations in the state range from 2,817 ft. at Red Bluff Lake in the southern Rio Grande Valley to 13,161 ft. on Wheeler Peak in north central New Mexico.) Couple this with constant sunshine, 2nd only to Arizona in days of sunshine per year, creating warm to hot days, but also very cool nights.The diurnal temperature shift from day to night can vary 35-40 degrees on any given night.
This shift, along with high elevations, ensures that acidity in wine grapes maintains brightness and freshness. Elevations, dry weather conditions, sandy, loamy, iron rich soils and this diurnal shift make New Mexico ideal for growing grapes, particularly sparkling wine grapes and high acid varieties like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir used for bubbly.
A Few Select Wines –
In 1984, Gilbert Gruet, of the Champagne house, Gruet et Fils, in Bethon, France since 1952 planted an experimental vineyard in Engle, NM. The plantings were exclusively Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Two of his four children, Laurent and Nathalie Gruet then relocated to New Mexico to begin their American winemaking adventure producing traditional method sparkling wine.
Gruet Blanc de Blanc Brut NV in a traditional method, 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine layering aromas and flavors of sweet golden apples, pears, and lemon, combined with a classic toastiness with accents of roasted almonds and minerals.
La Chiripada Winery, a small, family-run operation located in the Rio Embudo Valley of Northern New Mexico, named from the original ranch where the winery is located. (“La Chiripada” means, “a stroke of luck” or “a lucky fluke.”) La Chirpada planted its first vines in 1977, the first vines to be planted in Northern New Mexico since prohibition, with their first vintage in 1981. La Chiripada Winery is the oldest continuously-owned winery in New Mexico.
La Chirpada Winemakers Select White Wine, a blend of white varieties that tend to grow well at high elevations, like Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc, layers nectarine, flower-blossom, honey and melon with a touch of gunpowder and flint.
Casa Rondeña was founded by John Calvin in 1994, bonded in 1995, and opened to the public in 1998. To Calvin, Casa Rondeña was never conceived as just a winery, but rather a center of gravity for the arts in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.
Casa Rondena 1629 Founders Reserve Cabernet/Tempranillo, crafted from two of the original varieties grown in New Mexico, blending earthy, mocha and vanilla filled Tempranillo, spicy Syrah and dense, robust Cabernet Sauvignon honoring the first vinifera plantings.