On my first full Saturday (and weekend) in Albuquerque, I wanted to make sure we really started to make good on our intention to explore Albuqerque, New Mexico, and the Southwest. Since we don’t really have time this weekend to go far, we chose to do something in town. There are several wineries in the area, and we decided to try a few in Corrales – a small town across the river from Albquerque. We didn’t know it when we started – but they call this the Corrales Wine Loop.
There are nominally five wineries on this loop: Matheson, Corrales, Acequia, Milagro, and Pasando Tiempo. However, Milagro and Pasando Tiempo are not open on a regular basis, so we just covered the three that are.
Matheson is officially in Rio Rancho a bit north of Corrales. We started by looking for this winery. Our GPS did not lead us to the correct location, but we found it by checking out the map on their website – it was just a bit further down the road. The location is really just a small tasting room in an office front plaza on the road. It’s a bit tricky to find – the key is to know which two cross-streets it is between.
The small tasting room was being manned by Janelle who was fun and friendly. We tasted just about all of their current wines – something like 7-8. The wines overall (really throughout the day) were all pretty tasty. At Matheson, we particularly liked the Cabernet Sauvignon – it was very smooth, tastes of berries, and had a hint of vanilla. Tastings at Matheson cost $5 pp but the fees are waived if you buy a bottle (which we did). The winemaker here is Mark Matheson and he also has started brewing some beer, too.
Onward ho – our next stop was Corrales Winery. This winery is run by a husband and wife team – the Johnstones. The friendly server who helped us explained that the husband is a former engineer. They have built a beautiful tasting room overlooking their small local vineyard and the mountains. The picture window frames a perfect view of the mountains.
Apparently the winery is solar as well. Here we tasted five wines – three reds and two whites – a Sangiovese, a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Riesling, and a Muscat Canelli. Corrales wines are very fruit-forward, which I really enjoyed. The Merlot and Cabernet were quite delicious – very flavorful and, especially the Merlot, more fruit flavor than most. They were still both quite tannic so they can stand some aging – my mouth was puckering dry after each one. I really liked both of these wines and the overall of this winemaker, but the reds are too puckery still – we could buy and age, but we don’t really have any room right now. We ended up buying the Muscat Canelli (a delightful, peachy/apricot, sweet dessert wine) to bring to a brunch for tomorrow. I don’t think there was a charge for the tasting, but it’s possible it was waived because of our purchase.
Our final stop was Acequia – the name is the Spanish word for irrigation canal. This winery is in a residential neighborhood and Al Knight (the winemaker) has basically built a tasting room in his garage. The sign said open though, so we walked in. Al greeted us and served us his wines. Again – we had a wonderful relaxed time chatting with Al – as we had at each of the wineries. We really enjoyed this aspect of the wine tasting – these are small wineries and we were the only ones there (except for one additional gentlemen at Matheson) – so we got to have a really nice conversation with the personnel at each place, and it’s clear that the winemakers are very accessible.
We tasted about 7 wines – similar grapes to the previous wineries (Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat Canelli). There was also a white blend called Osprey. Al names all of his blends after birds. These wineries all get most of their grapes from southern New Mexico – there’s a pretty large vineyard in Deming, NM which supplies a lot of them. Acequia and Corrales both grow some grapes locally as well.
All of the wineries and wines were really quite good. New Mexico was the first region in the US to grow wine grapes and produce wines – and we were really pleased with the quality. Overall we had such a pleasant, relaxing afternoon and are looking forward to exploring more!