Portales family starts local winery

PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Wineries keep popping up all over New Mexico. Now a new vineyard is opening in a part of the state known more for its dairies and peanut farms.

Enchanted Vineyards is owned and operated by Max Merrick and his daughter Megan Hamilton, Portales natives.

Wine-making has been a part of New Mexico since the 1600’s.

“The state of New Mexico is actually the oldest wine producing state in the nation, which is kind of neat,” said Hamilton.

The family operation has been years in the making. They believe this area is perfect for the wine industry.

“It takes a very low amount of water usage, it takes about a half an acre foot per year per acre of grapes,” said Hamilton.

They began planting their 5,000 grape vine operation about a week ago and they are very excited about it.

“We’re taking a big leap of faith, but we’re hoping to inspire some others to go into the industry, we think it’s perfect for the soil, the climate and especially the environment, so the more we can get into the wine industry the better,” said Hamilton.

Over the years the industry has taken off there are now more than 50 wineries in the state with wine production increasing by 10 to 15% each year in New Mexico.

People who follow the industry say it’s at a bit of a stand still now. Jubilations in Albuquerque is known for its selection of New Mexico wines.

They believe that new wineries here could have a tougher time standing out in a crowded field.

“They just have to kind of work a little bit harder and get more identity towards New Mexico because people still want to support New Mexico products,” said John Zonski, Co-Owner of Jubilations.

The New Mexico Wine Growers Association says the wine industry has an economic impact of more than $60 million on the state.

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