On a visit to my daughter in Alamogordo, New Mexico-I discovered wine tasting. It wasn’t even really in our plans for the day, but it just happened. Our real plans were to drive over the mountain through the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation and go shopping in the resort town of Ruidoso. We weren’t even doing serious shopping, just the casual something to do variety. We first found a gift shop called Heart’s Delight, having specialty items including kitchen gadgets. My daughter and I can always do damage in a store with kitchen gadgets. After leaving Heart’s Delight, we wandered and found Willmon Vineyards, a wine tasting room in a store that carries specialty food items besides wine. We had a great time talking with the couple behind the bar, finding out that they used to own a business and live in Las Vegas, NV -my home. Our conversation was so good, they started telling us about the New Mexico Wine Passport program. This is a program where the more wineries on their passport you visit, the better for you. It means free or greatly reduced items for you. So out the door we went with our bottles of wine and our New Mexico Wine Passports with some more adventures to come. Willmon’s main vineyard is located somewhere else in the state, but the store with wine tasting is there in Ruidoso. It may be a little hard to find. When I recently did a search for wine tasting in Ruidoso, I couldn’t see Willmon. After asking my daughter what it was called, I searched again, being successful this time. It is located a couple blocks farther down the main drag on a slightly quieter block.
Heart of the Desert, Alamogordo
So with our wine passports in hand, this presented a challenge. We just had to stop at a winery on our way back to Alamogordo. So we landed at Heart of the Desert. Since they are known for both wine and pistachios, we got double the bang for our buck. We sampled wines, pistachios and had light snacks as well. My daughter joined the wine club and I bought pistachios for my husband. They also have an antique wine truck out in front, so we had to take pictures. And then it was time to head for the house.
But wait, it’s not over yet. My daughter and I already had plans to go to Santa Fe for a couple of days. On the way, we planned to go to the top of Sandia Peak in Albuquerque. Ever the person who coupons and tries to save money, I planned on taking the road to the top of Sandia Peak and saving the cost of the Tramway tickets. It just wasn’t meant to be-after going in search of the road on the back side of the mountain and finding it closed due to fire restrictions, Sandia Peak got put on the back burner until we came back from Santa Fe. Also always one to save time where possible, we decided we would just stay on the back road we were on and take that to Santa Fe and trip upon whatever happened to be on that road. Here we are, driving along, and we come to this really small town with little fenced yards that come right to the edge of Highway 14. I am thinking, I know this place, oh, oh, oh, yeah the little town in the movie “Wild Hogs”. Madrid, New Mexico’s claim to fame is the movie “Wild Hogs”. This is one very quaint and now famous little town-I do mean little. But anyone who has been through the town and seen the movie will recognize it. What a pleasant surprise on an unplanned road for our trip.
We arrive in Santa Fe and find a parking place that we can find later after we have had some wine. With those hot wine passports in hand, we head off to visit old town Santa Fe and find some wine tasting rooms. Now the wineries in Santa Fe are actually sampling wine from wineries that are not located in Santa Fe-there just isn’t room. We were determined to get some more stamps on our wine passports and do some unplanned shopping-the best kind. The Santa Fe Plaza had an Arts and Crafts Festival going on including many Native American vendors who sell out of the Palace of the Governors located on the plaza and is also has the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Authority. The first place we found for tasting wine was Vino del Corazon Winery located not too far from the plaza. This is only a tasting room-no room for vineyards here in town. We had a nice conversation with the young man behind the bar as to why we wouldn’t find much in the way of wine tasting right near the plaza. We sampled and purchased. Next we hopped in the car and ventured out some to find Estrella del Norte Vineyard, where we once again sampled and purchased. Has anyone counted how many bottles of wine we bought? It doesn’t really matter as long as we drink it eventually-right?
Sandia Peak, Albuquerque
Back on the road we went. So taking a different route, we headed to Albuquerque and Sandia Peak, this time to ride the tram to the top, take pictures and learn some more. The homes at the bottom of the tram are absolutely gorgeous-I am slightly envious. The story about them though is intriguing. They sit on reservation land and are built on land leases. So one would hope that the leases go for a long time and no one who counts gets upset with you. So now up the mountain we go on the tram. There had been a bear sighted occasionally, but not on this day. It was a very pleasant ride on the tram though with further details from the tram guide. I was very surprised at how high up the top of the mountain really is and the view from the top is beautiful, as well as somewhat interactive. They have a couple of sets of (binoculars) pre-set to certain positions indicating certain things to see from the top of the mountain. The other thing to know if you are there in winter and like skiing, there is a ski area on the backside of the mountain from the tram.
So all told, we got five stamps for each of our wine passports and I left mine for my daughter’s friend when I returned to Vegas.