When it comes to wine in the U.S., California usually gets all the credit. But what most people don’t know is that Napa and Sonoma wine countries wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for New Mexico.
As we gear up for the 25th Annual Las Cruces Wine Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, check out these four reasons we think the New Mexico wine industry deserves a celebration.
When Spaniards first settled in New Mexico, wine was initially shipping in from Spain for Franciscan monks to hold daily mass and communion. At the time (1595), Spanish law prohibited the exportation of grapevines from Spain as a measure to protect the country’s agriculture industry. But because shipments took several months, the monks decided they needed a local source for their sacramental wine.
The monks ultimately decided to ignore the agriculture law and smuggled grapevines out of Spain and into New Mexico. Around 1629, a full 140 years before wine culture navigated to California, the first grapevines were planted in New Mexico.
From 1633 to the mid-1800s, our state’s wine industry was threatened a number of times: droughts, harsh winters, Native American raids and later the Civil War. By 1884, however, New Mexico was fifth in the country in wine production.
But tumultuous times still laid head. From the late 1800s through early 1900s, repeated flooding from the Rio Grande washed out a number of fields, and other vines became victims of root rot. Though the fields yet again prospered during Prohibition, the largest Rio Grande flood of the century wiped out nearly all vines in the area in 1943.
In 1977, New Mexico’s wine country was reborn. Though our state’s production is small in numbers (producing less than one tenth of one percent of the U.S. wine industry), our wine industry is again growing. Now, our state boasts more than 60 wineries – nine of which call the Las Cruces area their home. Sample wines from nearly a third of New Mexico wineries at our upcoming wine festival!
Memorial Day Weekend means wine in Las Cruces! Our annual wine festival, located at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, gives you three full days of sampling from wineries around the state, live music, 60+ arts and crafts vendors, food options and more.
Coming in from out of town? Check out our Wine Festival Hotel Package, which includes a king or double suite, breakfast, two general admission tickets to the festival, two wine glasses and shuttle service to and from the festival – all for just $139/night.
Toast our state’s rich history in wine at the 25th Annual Las Cruces Wine Festival this Memorial Day Weekend. This is one celebration you don’t want to miss!
Saturday, May 27 – Monday, May 29 | 12:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. each day
VIP Tasting Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. each day
Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds
12125 Robert Larson Blvd., Las Cruces
General Admission (ages 21+): $20
Non-Drinkers/Designated Drivers (ages 16+): $10
Attendees under 16 are free; anyone underage must be accompanied by parent or guardian
VIP tickets are $35 and include one hour of early access, exclusive tasting glass, discount on festival merchandise and three complimentary tastings of Reserved Wines.