Puente del Arzobispo, Spain, ca. 1850–1900, ceramic, glaze, 11.625 in. × 8 7/16 in.
Museum of International Folk Art, Gift of Florence Dibell Bartlett (A.1955.87.78)
Photo by Blair Clark
New Mexico Wine
New Mexico is the oldest wine-growing region in the country with 43 of wineries in operation throughout the state (for more information visit the New Mexico Wine Growers Association at nmwine.com), a traditional that began with grapevines from the Old World.
In 1598, Juan de Oñate and a small group of Spanish settled the upper Rio Grande’s rich valleys and the first Catholic missions were built. Though Franciscan monks received an allotment of sacramental wine, it quickly proved inadequate to their needs. They needed wine for their daily mass, and in 1629, the first grapevines were brought to New Mexico from Spain by Franciscan monks, who found it more efficient to grow their own grapes and make their own wine than to transport it from Mexico City, 1,000 miles away.
The Rio Grande brought life to the early vineyards, and by 1880 it is estimated more than 3,000 acres of vines were under cultivation in New Mexico. By 1884, New Mexico was the fifth largest wine producer in the nation, producing almost a million gallons annually. And then, at the turn of the century, the rising river waters flooded the fertile lands and the grapevines developed root rot.
By 1978, intrepid growers launched a new effort, and today almost 700,000 gallons of wine a year are produced in New Mexico. Gruet produces an award-winning sparkling wine and is the state’s largest vineyard, started by the Gruet family, originally from the Champagne region of France. New Mexico’s high desert climate and favorable soil are ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel wines.
New Mexicans celebrate their wines at annual summertime festivals around the state: historic Rancho de las Golondrinas, near Santa Fe; the New Mexico Wine Festival, in Bernalillo; and the Harvest Festival, in Las Cruces.
Usage: COURTESY MUSEUM OF INTERNATIONAL FOLK ART
Credit: Photo Blair Clark
Note: Representative image at left is often cropped for display purposes. Downloaded high-resolution images are not cropped.