ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Come heck or high water, New Mexicans will enjoy a relaxing glass of wine.
Some wore ponchos or held umbrellas and others were soaked around noon Saturday as hundreds of people carried their wine tasting glasses through a steady rain to the different venders during the first day of the Albuquerque Wine Festival, which continues today and Monday at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Lindy Smith was there for “the ability to taste wine from around the state in a lovely setting.”
“We’re grateful for rain,” the Duke City resident said, adding, “we’ll dry.”
Across the grassy expanse of the festival field, there are 24 New Mexico wineries and other venders set up as well as a stage under a tent for bands to play on throughout the weekend.
Attendance was slower than usual early Saturday, said Amanda Collier, the festival director. But organizers were still hoping to hit the festival’s usual draw, about 11,000 to 12,000 people, for the three days.
The weather is expected to improve today and Monday, with the chance of rain and thunderstorms dropping to about 20 percent by Memorial Day.
“The rain (Saturday) was a little bit of a bummer … but if people want to come out and taste wine, we will be here,” Collier said. “We’re hoping the rest of the weekend will be sunny.”
Admission to the festival, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. daily, is $20 for adults and it comes with an event glass. The wineries offer nips, and wine is sold by the bottle and the glass. There are also food venders.
Collier said the event is unique because it allows people to sample wine made throughout the state in one location.
New Mexico is the oldest wine growing region in the country, and there are nearly 50 wineries in the state, according to the New Mexico Wine Growers Association’s website.
One festival strategy is to travel to the wineries’ tents for a round of tastes, and to then make a final round to purchase bottles of the best, said Kris Domino, who took in the event on Saturday.
She said a positive effect of the wet weather taking place early on was that it provided easier access to the wine. Last year, it was crowded, she said.
Domino said the festival made shopping for wine similar to going to a growers market for produce. The winemakers are there to explain the process of how it was made.
The Albuquerquean said she prefers to buy local products, including in-state wines.
“It supports the economy, and produce grown locally is usually fresher,” she said.