In part one; the Mimbres Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) was explored. In part 2; the Mesilla Valley AVA is covered. This AVA encompasses Mesilla, Las Cruces and the area south down to El Paso, extending into Texas as well. The wineries include La Viňa in La Union, our southernmost winery and one of the oldest in state. In the Las Cruces area Rio Grande Winery has vineyards and a lovely tasting room. Amaro Vineyards has a delightful tasting room and is currently bringing a new winery online.
Heart of the Desert has a tasting room in Las Cruces and Mesilla, but the vineyards are located in the Tularosa Basin. Black Range Winery has a tasting room in Mesilla. The two principal vineyards are owned by La Viňa and Rio Grande Vineyards & Winery, although small vineyards dot the landscape that either sell to other wineries or are for personal use.
Touring this area offers many wine tasting choices with visits to many historical sites in Las Cruces and Mesilla to enrich the experience. Distances between tasting rooms are very short with the exception of La Viňa. As mention in part 1, Luna Rossa and St. Clair also have tasting rooms in Mesilla, providing a broad range of wine styles that express the terroir of Mimbres Valley and Mesilla Valley AVAs.
The focus here will be on Amaro and La Viňa wineries since Rio Grande Winery was previously covered here. La Viňa Winery is located a short distance from exit 2 off interstate 10 in La Union. The site has great local charm and is often used for weddings and special events. The 2011 Fall Harvest Festival is held on October 8 and 9 this year, and is a very popular event. La Viňa has a very impressive wine list covering dry and sweet styles, including Ports and Sherries. The recently updated websiteprovides a good overview of the vineyards, wines and directions.
Ken and Denise Stark tend the 24 acres of vineyards and make wines that reflect the 380 year history of wine making in New Mexico. Their wines reflect the terroir, coupled with modern winemaking techniques, creating award-winning and well-regarded wines. Whatever one’s palate there is bound to be wines that one cannot resist. As always, check the website for directions and hours of operation. It is also recommended to call ahead before heading down.
Amaro Winery is an upcoming and friendly winery located in the heart of Las Cruces. The tasting room is festive and fun; open all week with music on the weekends and specials during the week. Kelly Allen is a charming hostess and makes sure the fun never stops. Amaro already has an impressive list of awards for such a young winery, having been founded in 2009. Red, white and dessert wines are available in sweet and drier styles. Check their websitefor directions, wines and special events.
Whenever one is traveling to Las Cruces, the fine wines and warm welcome of this area’s wineries should not be missed.