Growing Grapes in New Mexico

New Mexico’s grape growing industry goes as far back as the seventeenth century, when Franciscan monks started cultivating Vitis vinifera grapes used for Mass wine. However, the Prohibition and the flooding of the Rio Grande in central New Mexico ravaged the region’s developing grape and wine industry. In 1978, New Mexico had another attempt at recreating its once flourishing grape industry when small vineyards growing cold-hardy American varietals were established in the northern parts of New Mexico. European varieties (Vitis vinifera) are also grown in south and south-eastern New Mexico, where the climate is similar to California’s long and dry growing seasons and mild winters, and in central New Mexico near the Rio Grande. Native American grapes, mostly Concord, grow better in the northern parts of the state because of the colder climate there. French-American hybrids, known for their ability to thrive in cooler climates and produce good wines, are also grown in northern New Mexico. Today, New Mexico has a total of 38 wineries and 42 vineyards located in the grape growing areas of the state.

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