Sheehan Winery is doing its part to contribute to the growth of grapes in New Mexico.
The booming wine industry in the state is creating a strain on Land of Enchantment growers that are trying to keep up with supply.
“Our winery is growing and growing,” explained Sean Sheehan, owner of Sheehan Winery. “Our winery has probably tripled in the last three years as far as production and sales. We’re running up against a cap of having enough grapes to stay 100% New Mexico True and not take out-of-state grapes. And so that means we need to farm more.”
Sheehan Winery has seen a boost in its wine club membership partly due its new tasting room in Plaza Don Luis in Old Town. Prior to the pandemic, it had about 100 wine club members. It currently has about 800 members.
“It’s a blessing, but we have to make sure that we have the wine to sell them,” Sheehan said. “And so the absolute push is to get as many vines in the ground as possible and to make sure that we’re staying true to our New Mexico roots, that we’re staying true to farming right here in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, which I think is the very best place to grow grapes in New Mexico. But I do think that the grapes that are grown right here in the North Valley, in the South Valley, in Belen, in Los Lunas and in Bosque Farms, where we have our home vineyard, that’s really the best place to grow grapes in the state for our style of wine.”
In early May, Sheehan and about 100 volunteers participated in a vine planting party at the winery. Sheehan anticipates having a half harvest in three years and a full harvest in four years. He hopes to be able to sell the wine in 2026.
Sheehan Winery grows six different grape varietals to create its award-winning wines.
“We’ve got cabernet sauvignon, we have tempranillo and the other two reds that we have are less well-known,” Sheehan explained. “One is called blaufränkisch, which is an Austrian variety and it makes a really deep dark purple wine. It is really soft and smooth, pretty similar to a malbec as far as style goes. And then the other red that we have is something called regent and it is one of the primary grapes in our Ollpheist wine.”
Sheehan has seen a high demand for the award-winning Ollpheist. It is the winery’s most popular red wine.
“We’re planting a good bit of that regent grape to make sure that we’re able to keep up with production on what has become one of the flagship wines of the winery,” Sheehan said.
The winery grows two grape varietals for its white wines.
“We’ve got albariño, which is a Spanish white, really crisp, really bright, really fresh,” Sheehan said. “The other one is Vidal blanc, which has become really popular as a white wine for us … We can’t quite keep up with production on the Vidal blanc. We get those grapes from the South Valley.”
Sheehan said the winery tries to buy as many grapes as possible from the grower in the South Valley.
“He’s only got a couple acres down there,” Sheehan said. “So putting in an acre of the regent grape and more than an acre of Vidal blanc should help keep wine in people’s glasses and keep up with production.”