If you're 21 and older grab your ID on May 27-29 and head to the Balloon Fiesta Park for the annual Memorial Day VivaVino! weekend tradition of the New Mexico Wine Festival between 12pm-6pm each day.
At VivaVino! you’ll enjoy an endless sampling of red, white and sparkling wines with special pricing on wines by the glass, bottle or case. A free bottle-check service is provided to protect your purchases while you shop, sample, dance and explore the festival.
Wine pairing involves finding the perfect partner. In the case of New Mexico United and Sheehan Winery they both believe they are the perfect match for each other. They’ve come together in a partnership called Vinos Unidos (United Wines), and the partnered wines will be officially released Memorial Day weekend in the Sheehan Winery’s booths at the Wine Festival.
“We're honored to partner with Sheehan, an incredible company that, just like us, is focused on creating incredible art,” David Wiese-Carl, the director of communications and fan experience for New Mexico United told The Paper. “It's exciting for us.”
He said New Mexico United prides themselves on being a club that is built around marrying together art and sport - two seemingly disparate things that truly are one and the same.
“We're proud to be New Mexico's team. It's about New Mexican people coming together to bring pride to the state; to be proud of who we are, what we create, what we can become and look ahead to the future, be proud of that and grow New Mexico from the roots up,” Wiese-Carl said.
Sheehan Winery is thrilled with their new partnership. “We're absolutely over-the-moon excited to be pouring the Vinos Unidos wines for the very first time at the Memorial Day Wine Festival,” owner Sean Sheehan told The Paper. He said it’s a tremendous opportunity for their winery. “It’s a wonderful synergy between two different companies; a soccer team that's striving to be the best in the world and us, as a winery, that is also striving for that same goal.”
Sheehan will offer three wines in their Vinos Unidos tent. They include a Cabernet Sauvignon - a dry red wine that is fruit forward, approachable, soft and smooth on the palate with really soft tannins. A Cinsault Rosé offers a bright fruit forward, crisp, refreshing wine. Their Unidos Blanco is a sweet white wine that’s a festival favorite. Sheehan said it’s “bright, juicy, really floral and aromatic with some really nice tangerine character.”
Sixteen wineries will be presenting their wines at the festival, including Sheehan. The Paper. spoke with Sandra Pacheco, CWS | National Sales Director for the Lescombes Family Vineyards. “The Lescombes Family Vineyards is owned and operated by the Lescombes family, a family of wine growers, wine producers and restaurateurs that have brought the experience from six generations, across three continents into one passion – winemaking,” Pacheco told The Paper.
The company includes a vineyard, a winery, three D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro restaurants in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Alamogordo; Hervé Wine Bar in Santa Fe; and the Lescombes Family Vineyards Tasting Room in Deming.
Wine tasting can be done at Lescombes booths and includes a local favorite: their St. Clair brand, with many varieties to choose from, including the #1 selling St. Clair Mimbres Red. “In addition to St. Clair, the D.H. Lescombes, Soleil Mimosa and Hatch Chile wines are produced by the winery and are shared across the state with some brands distributed nationally,” Pacheco said.
Headliner musicians playing throughout the festival are:
In addition to the great music and unlimited wine tastings, festival goers will be able to enjoy a free Silent Disco where you can dance to music on wireless headphones, free mini-golf, video games, lawn games and painting classes.
On the morning of May 27, the Wine Festival is hosting the inaugural VivaVino! 5K run in partnership with Run Fit. VivaVino! Run participants will receive an event T-shirt, access to the festival, a commemorative VivaVino! wine glass and unlimited sampling.
The Paper. spoke with Christopher Goblet, executive director for the New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association, about the VivaVino! Festival and the Association.
Goblet said the association was founded in 1991 with the express purpose of creating a marketplace for the wine industry. “At that time, restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores would not carry New Mexico wine products. The Board of Directors formed the organization to create an avenue for showcasing their wines and selling directly to consumers to build recognition for their brands and their products.”
In the 90s, Goblet explained the local craft beverage concept was not widely adopted. “They were seeking a way to get direct to consumer sales, which is a huge topic of conversation today. But back then, it certainly was not on anyone's radar,” Goblet said.
Needing to get a solid customer base and following, the wine festival created an opportunity for sampling and direct sales for local wineries. The Memorial weekend wine festival events take place simultaneously in Las Cruces and Albuquerque. “They have grown from attracting a few 100 people, to now attracting over 12,000 people in Albuquerque and 12,000 people in Las Cruces for a total of around 25,000 people,” Goblet said.
The festival helps the wineries replenish their bank accounts. “They’ll take the money earned from this festival to buy their September harvested grapes, bottles and corks,” he explained. “These festivals are really an economic stimulus that keeps the wine industry moving forward.”
The Albuquerque Wine Festival is presented as a garden theme of Wander Through the Wine Garden. “I really love the aesthetic of tying into the seasonality of spring; the blooming and blossoming - the bouquet of flowers,” Goblet said. There will be a simulated garden decor throughout the entire festival grounds, with flower boxes, a water feature in the middle of the festival and they are even bringing in trees to complete the garden theme. “It’s a beautiful, elegant layout that’s visually appealing,” Goblet said.
For the wine explorer who wants to taste what's new and what's vintage, you’ll find all of the new releases of 2020, 2021 and 2022 vintages at VivaVino! “The festival is the perfect opportunity to get wines directly from the producers,” Goblet said.
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