Pride in New Mexico is a common ground Sheehan Winery and New Mexico United share.
Each decided to take that pride and bottle it into three new wines that reflect the state’s love of wine and soccer. The bottles will debut at this year’s Albuquerque Wine Festival that takes place Saturday, May 27, through Monday, May 29, at Balloon Fiesta Park. The wines will be available for tasting and for purchase by the glass, bottle or case. Bottles also will be available at Sheehan’s tasting room in Old Town. Plans to sell at local and corporate retailers are in the works.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us to partner with them,” said Sean Sheehan, Sheehan Winery owner and winemaker. “I think our two businesses have a lot in common in some ways. I mean, obviously we’re very different, a soccer team and a winery, but I think both on our end and on their end, we’re trying to do something world-class here in New Mexico. We’re trying to do something, not just good for New Mexico, but just good. And I think it is also good for the community. We both have those kinds of values aligned.”
The collaboration wine line named Vinos Unidos features a cabernet sauvignon, a dry rosé made from cinsault grape, and a sweet white wine named Vinos Unidos Blanco, which is a blend of riesling, moscato and gewürztraminer. The grapes used to make the Vinos Unidos wines come from the Las Cruces area.
“The cabernet has a nice blackberry and dark fruit character to it,” Sheehan said. “I made it in a way where the goal is for it to be really approachable and really smooth on the palate. The winery makes three different cabernets under our label. And this is most similar to our most approachable cabernet, which is something that you can do with or without food. Really smooth soft tannins, nice body, nice oomph to it. But it’s definitely not something that you need to age. It’s ready to drink today.”
The dry rosé is a must for warm weather sipping.
“(It is) really refreshing (and has a) nice kind of strawberry character to it,” Sheehan said. “(It) really jumps out of the glass. Super pretty. I’m really proud of it actually. I feel like we continue to make better and better rosé every year.”
Wine drinkers with a sweet tooth will appreciate the Vinos Unidos Blanco.
“(Vino Unidos Blanco) is really bright, fruit forward, really juicy, (it has) that kind of mandarin orange character to it, really smooth and nice and sweet,” Sheehan said.
The wines’ branding intertwines New Mexico United’s team colors into the wine labeling. The team’s classic black and yellow colors are incorporated in the cabernet’s label. The Vino Unidos Blanco’s label is modeled after United’s new home jerseys that utilize turquoise on a white background. The dry rosé sports a pink label to match the hue of the wine. The top of the bottles are wax dipped to match the colors of each label.
“That was very much a collaborative effort,” said David Wiese-Carl, director of communications for New Mexico United. “We had our creative team working directly with Sheehan on those labels. They kind of came from our creative side of things. And one thing that I think we’re pretty good at New Mexico United is making really cool stuff that people want to wear or really cool stuff that people want to have. The visual stuff is something we’re really good at and we’re able to kind of take the bold ideas for the wine that Sheehan came up with and translate these visually. We were able to make something that I think really came out beautifully.”
A $1 of every bottle sold benefits the Somos Unidos Foundation.
“One of the biggest parts of this partnership is that for every bottle sold, Sheehan is going to be making a donation to the Somos Unidos Foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of New Mexico United, which does a lot of really good work,” said Wiese-Carl. “But among that work, one of the things that they do, and that’s really impactful, is they completely scholarship United’s Academy program.”
The program was created to help youth of various income levels achieve their dream of playing soccer.
“In the United States there’s a system called ‘pay-to-play’ wherein the best trainers, the best coaches, the best staff, all that kind of stuff, they’re expensive,” Wiese-Carl explained. “And if you are a young player who wants the best training, it could cost you, cost your family a lot of money. We don’t really like that system, we don’t believe in that system, and we actively want to kind of do the opposite of that.”
Full scholarships are offered to youths who make the New Mexico United Academy team.
“If you make the academy team, which is high school-aged kids, if you make the team then you will not pay, your family will not pay a single dime for training, for merchandise, for equipment, for travel, any of that stuff,” Wiese-Carl said. “That requires a lot of effort to complete a scholarship that is hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, so that these kids don’t have to pay it, so these families don’t have to pay it. We’re really proud of that. It’s starting with these kids and giving them the opportunity to achieve and succeed and really do their best and be given every opportunity. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your dreams and that’s something that Sheehan really believes in and that we really believe in.”