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Fruit of the vine: Sample wines and learn to paint at festivals

New Mexico Wine, formerly known as the New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association, has launched its Viva Vino branding. (Courtesy of Dean Strober)

New Mexico Wine is getting a new face just in time for two of the state’s largest wine festivals.

The New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association recently changed its name to New Mexico Wine. It also changed the name of the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival, after 25 years, to Las Cruces Wine Festival. Additionally, the association released its Viva Vino branding, which is now featured on its ads, merchandise and more.

“We’ve been very reserved in our marketing,” said New Mexico Wine Executive Director Chris Goblet. “Because millennials are now the largest population of wine drinkers alive, I think it’s important that we just let the universe know. Those people who know us and already like our wines are going to stick with us. We kind of wanted to give this Viva Vino approach to expand the universe of people that we are talking to. I think the wineries are all on board with the idea of giving our industry that curb appeal. It’s not an industry of you have to be a wine connoisseur and have lots of money; everybody can kind of approach wine and enjoy it.”

Both wine festivals also will offer a wine lover early access hour, which is new this year.

“It includes a lot of bells and whistles, and of course it’s the same in the north as it is in the south,” Goblet said of the wine lover ticket. “It comes with a larger sampling glass, it comes with the early hour entry, $5 off merchandise, some reserve tastings, so you’ll have wines that you won’t typically be able to taste during the wine festival.”

There will be 25 wineries at the Albuquerque event and about 20 wineries in Las Cruces to sample and purchase wines from. Both events also include a number of award-winning wineries, local bands and arts and crafts vendors. New to the Las Cruces event and returning to the Albuquerque festival are on-site painting classes. The classes are free. Attendees are encouraged to immediately sign up at the tent. Both festivals will offer a secure area to leave your wine purchases while you paint and taste.

Albuquerque Wine Festival eventgoers sip and stroll at last year’s event. (Courtesy of Dean Strober)

Some attendees take part in a paint-and-sip event at last year’s Albuquerque Wine Festival. (Courtesy of Dean Strober )

Stock up on wines from several wineries that do not have their products readily available outside the festivals.

“A lot of these wineries, I think is worth mentioning, is you can’t find them in the stores, and some of them don’t even have tasting rooms, so this is really the one opportunity that you have to get to know the wines, buy the wines,” said organizer Dean Strober of Blue River Productions. “For me, the most exciting aspect is to meet the winemakers themselves. I think that’s what sets our wine festivals apart in New Mexico from others. … When you go to one of these booths, you’re actually meeting the people making the wine, and there’s really no shortage of education that I feel the attendees can gain from just learning how their wines are made.”