News Column

New Mexico Harvest Wine Festival lures samplers, stompers

August 30, 2014

By S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.

Aug. 30--LAS CRUCES -- Thousands are expected over the holiday weekend to sample wines from more than 20 wineries and enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, grape stomps, kids' activities and gourmet goodies at the New Mexico Harvest Wine Festival continuing from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds off Interstate 10, 11 miles west of Las Cruces.

For many in the region, including Carol Roberts-Spence of El Paso, the festival is part of a fiesta trifecta routine that also includes visits to the Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch and the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts at Holy Cross Retreat.

"Because we usually come to Holy Cross, where we've just come from, we decided we might as well come and see what's here. So this is our second festival today and if we get bored, we're heading to Hatch. After that we might go to Alamogordo for the Cottonwood Festival. It's a tradition. It's just about how much we can do in a day trip," Roberts-Spence said.

The wine fest is also becoming a family tradition for Vennessa Rodriguez of Carlsbad and her brother, Justin Rodriguez, and his friend, Dominique Dominguez, both students at New Mexico State University.

"It's just for end-of-the-summer fun in Las Cruces," Vennessa Rodriguez said.

Her brother said he liked the music and Dominguez praised some of their recent finds, including mango mimosas.

St. Clair's red and green chile wines were among unique offerings drawing early crowds.

"I come for the wine, the food and the atmosphere. I love the green grounds. It's like being in a big backyard," said Carol Walters of El Paso.

"We've never been here before, but it's OK so far. It's not too hot and I'm looking forward to trying all the local wines," said Don Kamins of Omaha, Nebraska.

"We've been coming to the festival for about six years. We like the wines and the music and the food," said Barbara Gray of Las Cruces, searching for new favorite wines with her husband, Buddy.

This year's entertainment roster includes The Players, The Liars, Eli James Band, Nosotros, Overcome and Phat Soul.

There is also an activity area for kids, including bouncy tents, a small train and other attractions. A horse-drawn carriage is also available for trots around the fairgrounds.

Fun-lovers of all ages (and fans of that classic "I Love Lucy" episode) are invited to compete in hourly wine-stomping contests.

At the food court, you can take a break from wine sampling to dine on everything from nachos and barbecue to pork chops, goat cheese and chocolate-covered strawberries. Vendors offer packaged New Mexico food treats like salsa and pasta, arts and crafts and wine accessories.

Insiders advise that if you have questions for wine merchants, you may find they'll have more time to chat early on Monday, often the least-busy time during the three-day festival.

Admission is $20 at the gate and includes a free souvenir wine glass and sampling privileges. Those under 21 are admitted free when accompanied by parent or legal guardian. There is a Military Monday $3 discount for military on active duty with ID on Labor Day. For information, or to buy tickets online, visit

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

If you go

What: New Mexico Harvest Wine Festival

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday

Where:Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds off I-10, 11 miles west of Las Cruces

Festival Perks: Sample wines from New Mexico vineyards, music, arts and crafts, grape-stomp contests

Hot tunes: The Players, The Liars, Eli James Band, Nosotros, Overcome and Phat Soul

How much:$20 at the gate, $15 in advance for adults (includes free wine glass), under 21 free when accompanied by parent or legal guardian.

Military Monday: $3 discount for military on active duty with I.D.



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Source: Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)

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