It’s New Mexico, predating California’s efforts by 140 years!
The high desert climate and dry
nutrient-rich soil in the state is absolutely ideal for producing wine.
The University of New Mexico has recently implemented a viticulture program to educate prospective winemakers in the art of cultivating
and fermenting wine grapes, so we expect that the local industry will continue to thrive.
Wine grapes are not native to NM, when the Spanish settled this area in the 1500s.
Monks had to serve a sherry-like substance at Catholic Mass instead of actual wine.
This was because the Spanish had actually passed a law preventing any grapes to be exported from the homeland to protect their thriving agricultural industry.
Finally, Fray Garcîa de Zuñiga and Antonio de Arteaga smuggled the Mission grape
(a sweet and tough varietal) into the state in 1629, starting the wine revolution.
In just a few years, New Mexican viticulture had firmly taken root, but it wasn’t an easy journey from there. A series of difficult winters and Pueblo revolts destroyed many of the vineyards in the 1600s, The industry managed to recover a bit by the late 1800s.
Prohibition & severe flooding of the Rio Grande River wiped most of the vineyards out
in the early 1900s. A come back came in 1977 with the opening of La Viña Winery in La Union, which still stands as the state’s longest continuously operating vineyard.
Vineyards could thrive in New Mexico’s climate, European immigrants flocked here to open their own wineries, attracted by the inexpensive land and picturesque scenery.
Since then, the wine industry has exploded, and New Mexico is now home to more than 52 vineyards and wineries.