Grape vines arrived in New Mexico in the early 1600s. Brought in a caravan wrapped in cloth they arrived under the watchful eye of the Franciscan priests. The first harvest produced a grape with a reddish blue hue and a high sugar content.
Arid Climate Great for Grapes
The Spanish padres soon discovered that New Mexico’s temperate climate and arid conditions were perfect for cultivating grapes. Within a matter of years vineyards flourished and stretched as far as the Mesilla Valley in the southern part of the state. The new found ability to grow grapes in the state became very beneficial to the Catholic Church. In the past only wine brought from Spain could be used for religious sacraments. During the long trek up the Camino Real the wine turned to vinegar. Locally grown wine became the main ingredient for church services within a matter of years.
The Growth of Wine & Chile in the State
Wine and chile have become major industries in New Mexico producing millions of dollars in revenue. The town of Bernalillo hosts the New Mexico Wine Festival which is testament to the success and continual growth of the wine industry. The annual event takes place over the Labor Day weekend. More than 20 wineries from Las Cruces to northern New Mexico feature their harvest of wines including: Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and sparkling Champagne. In September the Wine and Chile festival draws people from around the country. Producing wine continues to provide a blend of culture and economics for the people of New Mexico.