ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico has its fair share of wine bars, but it has long lacked a single space designed to showcase exclusively local wines. A a new tasting room in Hotel Chaco is aiming to change that.
Crafted opened its doors in the ground floor of the hotel at 2000 Bellamah Ave. NW in August. The 841-square-foot space has indoor and outdoor seating for 30 to 40 customers. Unlike a traditional wine bar, Crafted will focus on tasting flights and bottles of local wines.
Molly Ryckman, vice president of sales and marketing for Heritage Hotels, which owns Hotel Chaco, said the vision was to establish a space where visitors and locals alike can learn more about New Mexico’s small-but-growing wine and spirits industry.
” I think that story has been told to some degree, but is very new, Ryckman said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity to really go deeper in how much wine is actually produced here.”
By some accounts, New Mexico touts the oldest wine-making industry in the United States, with roots dating back nearly 400 years, according to the industry association New Mexico Wine.
Still, Ryckman noted that the state has a shortage of tasting rooms, meaning that visitors interested in sampling New Mexico wine have to travel to a variety of tasting rooms attached to individual wineries. At Crafted, she said visitors can sample wines from six New Mexico wineries, from both the state’s northern and southern wine-growing regions.
“The only regional delimiter in our offerings is the state line,” added Shawn Buckley, director of communications for Heritage Hotels.
Additionally, Crafted will feature tastings of vodka, gin and other liquors from Santa Fe Spirits, New Mexico’s oldest distillery. Daniel Gutierrez, head of Crafted’s wine and spirits program, said spirits like Santa Fe’s signature Wheeler’s Gin incorporate a variety of flavors from the desert Southwest, from white sage to cactus blossom.
“That’s the most distinct New Mexican spirit that we have,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez noted that New Mexico wines, many of which are influenced by Spanish wine-making traditions, tend to be on the drier end of the spectrum. However, he said he recommends that visitors keep an open mind before judging the state’s wine offerings.
Crafted offers sheets of paper with pairing diagrams, allowing customers to take notes on various wines, and Gutierrez said he and other employees are available to answer questions and guide visitors.
Ryckman acknowledged that New Mexico’s wine industry still has room to grow, and said a big key will be generating greater awareness about the wines already present in the state. She hopes Crafted will offer visitors and locals greater access to and understanding of the state’s wine culture.
“We can start by having our hotel guests experience the quality of New Mexico wines, and being able to tell the story of where wine began,” Ryckman said.