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Tranquil times: Wine fest kicks of Labor Day weekend

New Mexico Wine is giving its Labor Day weekend wine festivals a new name and the Albuquerque event a new look.

Harvest Wine Festivals will be held in Albuquerque and Las Cruces Saturday, Sept. 2 through Monday, Sept. 4. The Las Cruces event will continue its traditional feel and the Albuquerque festival will get a lot shadier.

“We listened to comments from past events, what people liked and what they didn’t like,” said Chris Goblet, executive director of New Mexico Wine. “There will be over 36,000 square feet of tented shade space this year and three enormous big top tents. One of the things we really wanted to focus on was a comfortable experience where people … can relax and enjoy themselves. We just wanted to tent the entire area so that anywhere you went was cool, shady and enjoyable. I think that one of the most major atmospheric changes is it’s going to feel like a very different event than anything we’ve done in New Mexico before.”

The Albuquerque event also will have a different ambiance thanks to this year’s entertainment schedule.

“We wanted to have a more intimate experience, something that was a little more cultural and interesting, we moved away from the big main stage with the big party dance band and have gone towards more atmospheric music, so it’s jazz trios, it’s bluegrass Americana duet. So it’s less about the big party and the dance, and more about having that atmosphere of music, so it’s two stages in Albuquerque and 15 bands.”

Las Cruces will not have the big top, big tent type of event, but will continue its traditional format of wine and live entertainment with a few changes to its layout.

“There is a lot more outdoor shade, treescape and landscaping at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds,” Goblet said. “What we’ve done is rearranged the layout there so the stage is right in the middle of the festival. It’s kind of like a giant circle.”

Both events will feature 20 wineries from across the state. Attendees receive a commemorative glass and can sample, purchase a glass of wine or bottles from vendors.

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