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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Adventures in Las Cruces Week—Exploring the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail

Head south from the historic town of Mesilla on Route 28 and you enter the Mesilla Valley, a short section of the historic El Camino Real route. At the end of the 16th-century, Spain created a 1500-mile route from Mexico City to Santa Fe that would bring settlers, horses, and goods to these lands. Old mission churches still remain, sharing the road with large tracts of pecan trees, orchards, and vineyards. Las Cruces has an ideal climate for vines with warm days, cool nights, and mild winters. Thanks to Franciscan monks, New Mexico started creating wine about 150 years before California. Today, New Mexico is home to over 60 wineries and ten of those wineries in the southern part of the state form the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail.
 
My first stop was Rio Grande Vineyards, started in 2009, and now creating 15,000 bottles a year. We tried their signature wine, Queue Tendre, a semi-sweet white wine aged in Hungarian oak barrels, before moving on to my favorites, the dry red zinfandel and the sangiovese. Tastings are done in a classic ranch-style tasting room or outside on the back deck offering glorious views of the Organ Mountains. Back on Route 28, I passed over the Rio Grande River and under an umbrageous tunnel of mature pecan trees, courtesy of Stahmann Farms, the world’s largest family owned pecan orchard. Not surprisingly, the shaded roadway is cherished by road bikers. 
 
Soon I arrived at La Vina Winery, just in time for their annual Harvest Wine Festival. Bands were playing live rock, bluegrass, and country tunes and booths were selling local crafts, and, of course, spiced pecans. But most folks were here to taste the excellent wine. I really enjoyed the sauvignon blanc and the smooth syrah. Glass in hand, I walked over to a tent to listen to the music, looked up at the clear blue sky, and enjoyed the slight breeze. Life is good on the ole El Camino Real. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/18/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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