Owners have transformed an Old Town shop that was once home to hundreds of mass-produced trinkets into a wine-tasting room and art gallery.
Earlier this month, the award-winning Noisy Water Winery of Ruidoso quietly opened its tasting room, offering visitors a chance to sample New Mexico wines while visiting Old Town.
“People are just thirsty for something like this here,” owner Jasper Riddle said. “To me, Old Town is a hidden gem with the coolest plaza in New Mexico.”
Noisy Water runs the gamut when it comes to its offerings: dry wines, sweet ones, red, white, rosés, chile wines and even a few sparkling choices.
The tasting room is in a white building next to the Romero House, west of Old Town Plaza. The spot once housed the popular Basket Shop, which had two rooms filled with T-shirts, blankets, magnets, shot glasses, postcards and other items meant to attract tourists.
It no longer looks like a generic gift shop.
Riddle said he wanted to pay homage to the cultural and historical significance of the building, which was erected in 1893. One of the first things he did was strip part of the walls down to expose the original brick.
The space now has a bright, airy appearance. Customers are greeted by a large, rectangular corridor with wood floors when they enter. At the front are mostly New Mexico products for sale, including coffee, oils, syrup, pickles and cheese. Beyond that are a bar to the left sitting in front of a wall of wine and another bar to the right. Beyond that are high-top tables where patrons can sit and enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese. Tucked away behind the tables are two separate snugs with blue velvet couches and coffee tables. A doorway opens into the Lapis Room art gallery, which can also be accessed from the plaza.
Riddle said the taproom is part of a larger plan to transform Plaza Don Luis into a place that showcases New Mexico products and services.
Sheehan Winery is scheduled to open by the end of October, along with Outpost Brewing and Taproom. Spaces upstairs that were once used for storage were converted into Airbnbs.
Riddle said the city recently lifted a ban on selling packaged liquor in Old Town, creating a new opportunity for revitalization. He said he envisions the taproom and Plaza Don Luis as a place that visitors and tourists alike will want to visit.
The winery is located at 301 Romero NW. They are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturdays.