Long known as the Land of Enchantment, connoisseurs of fine wines and malty beer brews are seeking out New Mexico as a destination for top products in those fields.
In the winery industry, the rich soils of New Mexico not only provide for its beautiful landscapes, but some of the most prime grape growing areas in the country. That’s put the state right at the top when it comes to making wine. Through droughts, prohibition and other hurdles in its history, wine making saw a resurgence in the 1980’s. With 55 wineries currently in operation in New Mexico, old traditions live on.
“Chemically, we have a lot of good things that happen,” said Sam Aragon, President of the New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association. “We have a lot of good drainage and we can work with the soils to basically bring out the best in our grapes.”
That’s something that the early Spanish settlers noticed when they arrived in New Mexico in the 1600’s and began planting crops for growing grapes. By this timeline, it makes New Mexico the oldest wine producing region in the country, nearly 150 years before it even began in California.
“When the Spanish first came up, they needed wine,” added Aragon. “It wasn’t something we made because it was something fun to have, we needed wine because without wine there are no sacraments, without sacraments, there’s no life.”
As for the brewery industry, it seems that there are new ones popping up all the time.
“I think that what makes New Mexico great at producing beer and cider is our climate,” said Miguel Melendez, Cider Slinger at The Craftroom.
According to 2015 stats from the Brewers Association, New Mexico ranked 12th in the nation for small brewers per capita and had nearly 50 small breweries. That’s not too bad for an industry that’s only seen a rebirth within the last thirty years.