To find New Mexico’s oldest family-operated winery, you just need to spot the purple hand-painted signs. Following the signs defines winemaking at La Chiripada, named for a Spanish colloquialism meaning “stroke of luck.” “We follow the grapes’ lead with a minimal amount of processing, focusing on creativity and quality,” says Pat Johnson, the 82-year-old autodidactic winemaker. Built by hand by Pat, his brother Mike, and their families in the 1970s, the humble, sanctuary-like adobe tasting room offers a spiritual approach to wine tasting, happily pouring any of their 20 wines at no charge—a rarity among modern tasting rooms. Try this: The 2021 Winemakers’ Select White, a bright, crisp blend of six varietals.
“Don’t pay attention to medals,” says Krystal Salazar, Black Mesa Winery & Cidery tasting room attendant. “It’s what you like.” Her tasting advice serves as a good summation of the Black Mesa Winery vibe: relaxed and nonjudgmental. With 30 wines crafted from grapes grown on the property and five ciders from locally farmed apples, Black Mesa caters to a range of tastes. There’s even a kids table in the tasting room, with crayons and coloring books. In addition, owners Lynda and Jerry Burd display their passion for animals on almost every label of wine or cider. After your tasting, take the 10-minute hike behind the tasting room that includes a labyrinth—and be sure to say hello to Sola, the 16-year-old feline mascot and CEO (Cat Especially Ornery). Try this: The Black Beauty Chocolate Dessert Wine, a blend of ruby cabernet and baco noir grapes infused with dark chocolate.