New Mexico has a rich wine history that took a lot of twists and turns throughout the years. Although the state didn’t have an easy start when it came to producing wine, today it continues to grow across the region. If you’re visiting the Land of Enchantment it’s worth trying some of the enchanting wines it produces. Here are the top 10 facts about New Mexico wine history that are definitely worth knowing. Cheers!
1. New Mexico is one of the oldest states to produce wine in the United States. In 1629, A Franciscan friar and Capuchin monk planted the state’s first wine grapes in the Rio Grande Valley.
2. The New Mexico wine industry was in grave danger between 1633 to 1800 due to several Pueblo revolts and harsh winters. However, during the 1800s New Mexico emerged as a wine country.
3. By 1880, more than 100 million gallons of wine was being produced and there were 3,000 acres worth of grapes across the New Mexico region.
4. Wine production took a turn for the worst in the early 20th century. The banks near the Rio Grande were flooded and fertile land turned into useless swamps. By 1920, there were no wineries left.
5. In the late 1970s the New Mexico wine industry picked up thanks to a government sponsored study that attracted European winemakers to the region and encouraged them to plant French hybrid grapes.
6. The Gruet family, who were established French winemakers, moved to New Mexico in 1984 and started an experimental vineyard at 4,300 feet. The altitude worked in their favor for their production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay based sparkling wines. These sparkling wines are produced in the traditional method and have achieved unprecedented acclaim…and somewhat of a cult following among wine lover.
7. Today, there are three American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in New Mexico.
8. New Mexico now has more than 60 wineries and produces 900,000 gallons of wine annually.
9. Vineyards in the state are located across the north, central and southern regions of New Mexico.
10. New Mexico produces more than 70 different varieties of grapes, a few popular ones include Cabernet, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
11. The North American Vexillological Association determined the New Mexican state flag is the best-designed of any US state, US territory, or Canadian province. While that’s not a wine fact, it’s for sure bragging rights for New Mexico.
Interested in learning more about New Mexico wine? Make sure to check out our New Mexico Wine Travel Guide.