From the lawn at Rio Grande Winery, the peaks of the Organ Mountains appear to be painted a lavender hue in the last rays of sunset. Located just south of Mesilla, the 18-year-old winery specializes in dry vintages imparted with a unique “desert sunset aroma,” thanks to the location on a former riverbed. “If you’ve ever been at White Sands or in the desert in the evening as things start cooling down, you get that smell,” says co-owner and winemaker Richard McDonald. Try this: Mission, a pale red made from vines brought by Spanish monks for sacramental wines in the 1600s. “It loves the heat and loves New Mexico,” says McDonald.
A stuccoed building with a display of wine barrels at the entrance, D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro stands near the boundary between Las Cruces and Mesilla, serving a full lunch and dinner menu alongside its selection of vintages. Opt for the outdoor patio, where hanging baskets and large pots of green shrubs enliven the setting. Founder Hervé Lescombes has retired, but sons Emmanuel and Florent have taken over the operations, which include wine bistros in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, a tasting room in Deming, and the Hervé Wine Bar, in Santa Fe. Try this: Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry red with hints of nutmeg and blackberry jam. “It’s always a very good wine,” says Daniel Gonzales, D.H. Lescombes creative content manager.
Luna Rossa Winery & Pizzeria is crowded and humming with conversation on a Friday evening. Launched in 2011, the Las Cruces outpost is an extension of the family winery Paolo and Sylvia D’Andrea started in Deming in the late 1990s. In addition to the double-gold-winning pinot grigio, don’t miss Luna Rossa’s plate-size calzones or tasty gelato. Try this: NINI, a creative dry red that blends seven Italian grape varieties, including nebbiolo and sangiovese. “It’s definitely not something you see every day,” says their son Marco, who studied enology in Italy.