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A time to sip: Festival showcases New Mexico wineries, with food and music

Discover rare finds and award-winning wines at the 18th annual Albuquerque Wine Festival.

The event, which runs throughout Memorial Day weekend from Saturday, May 26, to Monday, May 28, will showcase numerous wines from a number of New Mexico wineries, including Amaro Winery, Black’s Smuggler Winery, Casa RondeƱa Winery, Jaramillo Vineyards, La Esperanza Vineyard & Winery, Luna Rossa Winery, Sheehan Winery, St. Clair Winery, Ponderosa Valley Vineyards and Tularosa Winery.

“Every single winery that takes part has won awards on the national and international stage for their wines,” said event organizer Dean Strober of Blue River Productions. “Noisy Water Winery, their merlot just took home a gold medal, and that was at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York. And then you have Wines of the San Juan. They received a double gold for their cabernet at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in New York. I think what’s really important for the wineries at the festival and the (New Mexico Wine) association is to showcase and really show off how far New Mexico wines have come. … The bar has recently been lifted very high, and they’ve really all stepped up their game to get really wonderful recognition in the wine industry.”

The festival also features wines that are not readily available at area retailers.

“You’re not going to find the variety and the pricing anywhere but the festival,” Strober said. “And there are some wineries that you cannot get anywhere except for at the festival. They don’t have tasting rooms. They’re not signed up with any national distributor. They are really small, artisan wineries that, for better or for worse, they don’t create the volume for a supermarket. We’ve got wineries from all over the state taking part, so even those with tasting rooms, unless someone is going to drive down to Ruidoso or Las Cruces, again they are not going to find these wines or the wineries.”

There will be plenty of food vendors on hand and the musical lineup includes a variety of genres, including jazz, rhythm and blues, Latin and world music all three days. Festival organizers are bringing back Kelly Jo Designs by Wine in Los Ranchos. It will be on-site each day offering free painting classes. The classes are popular and fill up quickly, Strober said.