Wines have been beguiling residents in New Mexico long before it was officially a state, with wine growing skills originally brought from Spain. After a successful crop, New Mexico growers are now looking forward to showing off their wares Saturday through Monday at the Harvest Wine Festival at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.
Labor Day weekend will be busy, but from noon to 6 p.m., local residents and those who might be passing through, can choose a day to get a full-bodied taste of wines from all across New Mexico. The New Mexico Wine Growers Association organizes the Harvest Wine Festival as a way to promote awareness of New Mexico wine and grapes. Different wineries will be showing off award-winning wines from all categories and tastes — catering to those who prefer sweet and those who like the shiver of a bitter wine.
IF YOU GO
What: Harvest Wine Festival
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday
Where: Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 11 miles west of Las Cruces on I-10
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the gate, $3 discount for all military with ID on Monday
Wineries included in the lineup this year are: Don Quixote Winery, Dos Viejos Winery, Luna Rossa Winery, Heart of the Desert, La Esperanza Vineyard, Rio Grande Vineyard and Winery, Pecos Flavors, Cottonwood Wine and Brewing, Amaro Winery, Ponderosa Valley Winery, Tularosa Vineyards, Wines of the San Juan, Guadalupe Vineyards, St. Clair Winery & Tasting Room, DH Lescombes, St. Clair Specialty Wines, St. Clair Winery, Camino Real Winery and Troubled Minds.
Troubled Minds, new to the festival this year, offers packaged canned wine product for "people on the go" on camping expeditions, outdoor adventures or family gatherings. Troubled Minds is operated out of Albuquerque.
A highlight of the event goes back to the origins of winemaking: grape-stomping. Hourly contests will be held during the festival for young and old to squish grapes under their bare feet.
"It goes back to the traditional ways that wine was made, even though no one does it that way anymore," said Rob Sharp, coordinator for the festival. "The grape stomp competition is a fun, friendly competition. The prizes can only be measured by the fame and glory of beating the other competitors in a good-natured test of grape-stomping mettle."
Live music always brings even more to the event and this year is no exception. On Saturday at noon, Derrick Harris will kick off the musical lineup, followed by Radio La Chusma at 3 p.m. On Sunday, Vince Alten will perform at noon and then fan-favorites Border Avenue will continue at 3 p.m. Monday at noon will see Overcome of Las Cruces and The Ghetto Blasters will go on stage at 3 p.m.
Admission for adults 21 and older is $15 in advance, online at www.wineharvestfestival.com, and various locations throughout Las Cruces. At the gate, admission is $20. Admission includes a souvenir wine glass. Entry is free for those younger than 21, but they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Military Monday offers a discount for those in the armed forces with a $3 discount for those with a military ID. Adults must have a valid photo ID regardless of age and please make employ a designated driver.
Cassie McClure is a freelance writer and may be reached at email@example.com.