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Sipping under the sun: The Albuquerque Wine Festival features Luna Rossa, as well as a number of other wineries

Crowds showed up for last year’s Albuquerque Wine Festival at Balloon Fiesta Park. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Crowds showed up for last year’s Albuquerque Wine Festival at Balloon Fiesta Park. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Light, crisp and refreshing wines are what Luna Rossa Winery consistently creates.

Luna Rossa wines are sweet accompaniments to a warm New Mexico day. And, if you cannot make it out to its tasting room in Deming or its winery and pizzeria in Las Cruces, then this weekend is the perfect time to stock up on what the southern New Mexico winery has to offer.

Luna Rossa Winery will bring 22 of its wines to the Albuquerque Wine Festival this Memorial Day weekend. The winery will not be bringing its malbec nor pinot noir, but tasters and wine enthusiasts will have an impressive selection of Luna Rossa wines to taste and purchase.

Luna Rossa, which means red moon in Italian, prides itself on using only grapes grown in its vineyard in southern New Mexico. The vineyard grows grapes for the wine industry, which supplies grapes throughout New Mexico and Texas.

The dream began in northern Italy, where Luna Rossa founder Paolo D’Andrea was born and reared. D’Andrea comes from four generations of wine growers. After being educated in viticulture with a specialty in grafting vine plants, he came to the United States in 1986 and passed his expertise in pruning vineyards on to laborers in New Mexico.

Later, D’Andrea successfully grew a sustainable vineyard and Luna Rossa wines have been in production for more than seven years, according to its website. He runs Luna Rossa with his wife Sylvia.

Recently, Luna Rossa won numerous medals during the Tasters Guild 27th Annual International Wine Judging. Luna Rossa won gold for its cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese; silver medals for its chardonnay, chenin blanc, Conquistador, Montepulciano, sangria and tempranillo and bronze for its malbec, according to Sylvia D’Andrea, who shared the results. The wines will be available for tasting and purchase at the Albuquerque Wine Festival.

Tasters Guild International is a wine and food appreciation society based in Michigan. Thirty judges from around the country completed more than 2,000 evaluations of wine from eight countries and 37 states or provinces from April 30-May 3, according to the Tasters Guild website. The judging panels are made up of retailers, winemakers, wine writers, wine educators and others.

A patron receives a wine sample at the 2013 Albuquerque Wine Festival. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

A patron receives a wine sample at the 2013 Albuquerque Wine Festival. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

D’Andrea said the wine close to Luna Rossa’s heart is its Nini. She suggested those who visit the Albuquerque Wine Festival to give it a taste.

“It means baby in Italian,” she explained. “It was the first wine we ever made. We’ve won a lot of gold medals with it and it’s a blend of dolcetto, nebbiolo, barbera, sangiovese and refosco. It’s dry and smooth.”

In addition to Luna Rossa, there will be 23 other wineries represented at the Albuquerque Wine Festival, including Anasazi Fields, Black Mesa, Casa Rondeña, Corrales Winery, DH Lescombes, Dos Viejos, Las Nueve Ninas Winery, Ponderosa Valley Winery, St. Clair and more.

A variety of food vendors also will be on hand selling an array of international flavors including French, Caribbean, Cajun, German and more. Local and regional arts-and-crafts vendors also will be selling their wares. Entertainment will be provided by James Carothers & The Renegade Mountain Band, A Thousand Horses, City Lights, Vinyl Tap, Los Primos and Nosotros. For a full event schedule and information, visit abqwinefestival.com.

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