Notice! I am not a wine connoisseur, just an English major who likes his tipple. I’m not going to decree that I know anything about wine other than that it is tasty. I lack the terminology and the taste buds to properly describe wine flavors.
The Albuquerque Wine Festival is an event that is put on annually by the New Mexico Wine Growers Association. They also sponsor a number of other events. As far as I know all vineyards present at the Festival are a part of the NMWGA. Occurring over Memorial Day weekend, this event is not to be confused with the New Mexico Wine Festival that takes place in Santa Fe.
Having turned twenty-one back in April and being somewhat of an alcoholic I decided to go to the Albuquerque Wine Festival and have myself a time. Here’s what I needed:
1. Designated Driver (Try saying it while drunk! “Des-ig-nai-ted-ed Drrriver”.)
2. Sunscreen (This is New Mexico after all, in the middle of the desert, where the sun always seems to be trying to land on the Earth.)
3. ID. (My gateway to intoxication.)
4. $50.00 + in my wallet (This is likely to be expensive.)
The festival was held at Balloon Fiesta Park this year, in a fenced off section to keep, I imagine, the minors at bay. I had a pre-conceptualized notion that everybody there would be around my parents’ age or older, but after the free-for-all that was parking I could see that I had been wrong. Ages ranged from around ten years old to I’d say sixty. What’s interesting is that there was nobody there from the ages eleven to twenty. This can easily be explained by the law. A kid of ten isn’t going to “accidentally” end up buying an adult beverage, or even try. A kid of seventeen will be paranoid about the law and isn’t likely to show up at such an event. There was a surprising amount of people in my own age group, college kids. I was particularly struck by what I can only assume was a group of sorority chicks, all wearing the same type of absurdly over colored sunhat.
Another thing I noticed right away was how tightly controlled the entrance was. I’m still operating under the idea that I’m not supposed to have alcohol. After seven years of sneaking around and dealing with dubious characters to illegally aquire booze, I feel as if I’m pulling of some sort of grand heist every time I buy alcohol. I stand in lines at liquor stores waiting for the guy behind the counter to turn me away because my ID isn’t valid. As it happened, the guy checking ID’s at the festival took my ID, looked at it, and said, “Boy, you just barely made it, didn’t you?” After the very important Checking of IDs, I paid the entrance fee. This was $15.00.
The entrance fee got me a ticket which I exchanged for a wineglass at the very first tent. The glass look like this:
---------- Full Glass
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There was a band playing, but that didn’t occur to me at first. What did was that there were a large number of tents with a large number of people around each and every one. I was at first skeptical that I could even penetrate the crowd to get to the wine. There is a way to do it, however, and I soon discovered it. The trick is figuring out who is in line and who is not. Since both types of people sort of mill about in confusion (this gets worse as the crowd gets more lubricated, ironic: Lubrication = Friction), this can be difficult. I eventually was able to get around the crowd and into the tents themselves, a feat that got easier as time went one even as the environment got more incoherentt.
After a few tents I decided that wine wasn’t the best thing for me. The idea of sex with one of the sorority chicks had been growing in my mind with every tent I visited and I decided that this was a noble goal to pursue. Never mind that I had been hit on earlier by an older woman at one of the tents who would have been more than willing. I told my designated driver that I was going to try some of the chocolate wine Black Mesa Winery was offering at their tent and left him where the band was playing.
Harassing the sorority girls was not to be however, as I couldn’t find any of them. This depressed me but I told myself that I just would have said something terrible about their sunhats (Really? Sunhats? All colors of the rainbow?).
Sometime after that I decided that I’d had enough. I felt like vomiting and that wasn’t something that I wanted to do, especially not in the middle of a crowd (I wasn’t exactly sure where the porta potties were, if there were any at all). The sun and the band were starting to get to me. The band, a local affair called the Long Gone Trio, had started out fair. I liked how they sounded like a cross between classic ‘50s soda shop rock and roll and modern day bluegrass. As the day went on they began to grate just like the sun and the crowd and the wine.
An appalling discovery is this: After having more than five different wines in my mouth, I am unable to tell the difference between wines arriving and those that just departed. By the time I noticed that one of the tents was offering mead (“Feel the Need for Mead”), I was out of money and out of taste buds. My lips were also stained, though I suppose they could have just been chapped from the sun.
The walk back to the car was faster than the walk in, but then again there wasn’t a line. The line was still filtering in as I walked out. Some were probably people committed to blowing up their livers, but I don’t hold grudges against such people being one myself.
Below is a list of vineyards present at the festival. If I went to their tent I’ll have some notes on what I drank. I took a few notes, but as the day went on I began to forget to write things down so I don’t guarantee that this list is complete or accurate.
Anasazi Fields Winery
BookReader tasted: NEW MEXICO PLUM.
I’m not all that into plum wine, but I didn’t mind this. I’d of preferred a full glass, but by this time I was almost out of money and tastes are free, glasses and bottles are not.
Anderson Valley Vineyards
Arena Blanca Winery
BookReader had a glass of: OUTLAW RED
This is some tasty stuff. As I left the tent I heard some guy, around thirty years of age, complaining how foul the stuff tasted. Fool! Or maybe he just got something else. In my confused state of mind I was sure he was talking about the Outlaw Red and was personally insulting me. Fortunately, I’m not the confrontational type.
Bees Brothers Winery
BookReader had: Sadly nothing. These are the folks with the “Feel the Need” slogan.
Black Mesa Winery
BookReader had a glass of: BLACK BEAUTY
Mmm. This is probably the best wine I had there. I bet it goes well with cheese. Strong and dark. Mmm.
Blue Teal Vineyards
BookReader tasted: MERLOT
It might be my imagination but I do believe this tastes like cherry. Cherries are tasty but not in drinks. Yuck.
Luna Rossa Winery
BookReader had a half glass of: Something. God knows what, but I did try to jog my memory by visiting Luna Rossa’s website, but apparently Firefox hates it so I’m left with a giant ponderous question mark.
BookReader had a glass of: CORALLAS RED
An interestingly light taste for such a dark color. I had a full glass of this after having a taste of it. This was the first tent I visited.
Ponderosa Valley Vineyards
Sandia Shadows Winery
St. Clair Winery
Santa Rita Cellars
BookReader tasted: Something. According to my notes I did stop at their tent, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what.
Wines of San Juan
The pamphlet from the Festival, my notes which come directly from my thoughts at the time, and the Bees Brothers Winery website. The notes were handwritten because I thought that the ambient noise likely to be at the festival was likely to make voice recordings impossible to understand.